Bouquet of Light | Tiffany Huang
Bouquet of Light is a series of three original classical piano songs that was released on Youtube on January 8, 2020. The three songs are respectively titled “Out of the Ordinary,” “Flowers and Candles” and “Bouquet of Light.” Each is represented by a different image that I edited myself using Adobe Photoshop. In the case of every image, my dear friend Vasilisa Shvedenkova took pictures of me in the performance theatre inside the Nest. Although the setting in the “Flowers and Candles” picture features the theatre itself, the backgrounds in “Out of the Ordinary” and “Bouquet of Light” consist of original photographs that I took during my exchange term in Scotland in 2019. The background of “Out of the Ordinary” cover shows a part of the Palace of Holyroodhouse, and the background of “Bouquet of Light” features a window inside Linlithgow Palace. Ultimately, the three songs were created individually before I decided to combine them into a series. When considering them in juxtaposition, it became clear to me that they mapped a progression of how I have dealt with my own emotions over the past couple of years. Whereas “Out of the Ordinary” is evocative of escapism, “Flowers and Candles” revolves around releasing such emotions. Finally, “Bouquet of Light” constitutes an attempt to finally confront one’s emotions and engage in self-reflection.
Dating back to summer 2014, “Out of the Ordinary” was the first song I ever composed, and it was done rather on a whim. During that summer, I was immersed in the world of my novel manuscript, and the title derives from the name of a fictional film around which my story is based. Roughly, the song can be divided into five sections, each of which reflects a different milestone in the imagined film. Of the magical realism genre, the film has much to do with challenging assumptions of what is ordinary or real. Equally central as key themes are conceptions of home and one’s roots; these conceptions are suggested by traces of Adele’s “Hometown Glory” which appear in the beginning and at the end of my song. In fact, as one my favourite tracks of all time, “Hometown Glory” forms the inspirational foundation on which my piece is built. Beyond connections to my story, the title of “Out of the Ordinary” also characterizes the peculiar circumstances in which music-composing began for me. Never in my life had I thought that I would create a song from start to finish. The incentive emerged while I was volunteering as a pianist at a senior’s home. Having exhausted my repertoire of classical music, I one day decided to take a break and play aimlessly on my piano at home. I didn’t have a specific key in mind, nor any idea for an entire tune. All that was on my mind were scenes from my novel and Adele’s “Hometown Glory.” Yet, somehow, these were enough to drive me to continuously develop the sounds I made on the piano. Looking back on this period of my life, I suppose I was looking for another outlet to explore the whimsical ideas that I’d first penned down on paper.
“Flowers and Candles” was composed in 2017, three years after “Out of the Ordinary.” At that point in time, reports of terrorist attacks and new casualties reappeared continuously in the news, and my mind drifted back to the words of a young boy who had been interviewed in France following a 2015 terrorist attack in Paris. In trying to make sense of the tragedy, the boy had uttered to his father and the reporter that “the flowers and candles are here to protect us.” Hearing these words had stricken me deeply, as I, too, was struggling with feelings of helplessness and with finding a way to cope with the turbulent state of our world. Whilst “Out of the Ordinary” served as another medium through which I could let my imagination run free, “Flowers and Candles” became an emotional outlet for me. Beginning as a melody that I found myself repeatedly humming for over a week, “Flowers and Candles” took on, among other characteristics, a tempestuous bassline and plangent crescendos. At the same time of connoting loss and mourning, however, the song also brims with a hope for peace and a brighter future.
Produced in 2019, “Bouquet of Light” is the third song I composed. It is by far my favourite, as well as the most challenging, piece that I’ve created. Interestingly, I had the initial melody since 2012, although at that point, I hadn’t thought about doing anything with it; I hadn’t even known that I would be able to make my own music years later. I’d simply hummed the tune from time to time when I was bored. It wasn’t until the beginning of 2018 that I started to actually develop the song on the piano. Like “Flowers and Candles,” “Bouquet of Light” emerged as another emotional outlet for myself. And like “Out of the Ordinary,” it has a narrative quality as well. Indeed, for myself, “Bouquet of Light” represents a journey of one’s mental health, which could be viewed as a story itself. Such a journey became especially important for me to consider at a time when both myself and my friends had been struggling with internal conflict. Indeed, the song passes through multiple stages, from cacophonous chords that mark a seemingly endless return to treacherous circumstances, to quiet soprano melodies which suggest one’s confrontation with oneself, to blended harmonies that evoke the uncertainties one needs to navigate through in order to overcome personal hardships. As “Bouquet of Light” poses a culmination of the themes that I was exploring in my two previous pieces, the song’s title has thus been extended to become the signature title of the entire series.