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The Bridge in The Mountain's Hands (A Travelog)
Album Cover
track list photo

The Bridge in The Mountain’s Hands (A Travelog) is an album I released on July 25, 2022. I composed, produced, mixed, and mastered all eight tracks on this album in my bedroom studio in New York City. As a Hani ethnic minority from Yunnan, China, I navigate my cultural identity and travel experience between New York and Yunnan. Musically, I combined Chinese folk music with ambient and spoken-word poetry. My album was selected as the “New and Notable Album” on Bandcamp.

Album Track Preview (Side A)

Track#1 “Sunrise Sunset (Intro)”

The opening track symbolizes the beginning of the album’s journey. I included a synth texture similar to woodwinds and brass to create an ethereal, flowing feeling. I also sampled from an improvisation session with my mentor Roy Nathanson who plays the exuberant saxophone  (0:50-1:20). The ending naturally leads into Track#2 and opens the portal into nature. 


Track#2 “We Might”

Although this is an album about my life stories and experiences, the album-making process involves much collaboration, as demonstrated in “We Might.” In the class Creating A Full-length Text/Recording I took with my mentor, I had the chance to expand the original demo of “We Might” from collective improvisations and integrate it into my final mix. Since my classmates are from different countries and backgrounds, I hope to create multiple perspectives by letting them do creative writing on “We might…” and record individual monologues from my microphone. I am satisfied with how this song can create a sense of community and celebrate cultural exchange lyrically and creatively.


Track#3 “Clouds”

“Clouds” is the first song I wrote for this album in 2021 and a key track about my cultural identity and hometown nostalgia. I named the title to echo my hometown’s Chinese name: “South of the Clouds.” I divided the track into two parts. The song was initially written in a standard folk-pop structure, as heard in the second half of the song. I recorded myself playing the acoustic guitar and vocals. Afterward, I composed a 2-minute instrumental intro to construct the beautiful scenery mentioned in the poetic lyrics: clouds, mountain streams, rain, and highland. 


Track#4 “Border Town Fair”

“Border Town Fair” is my first attempt to create an experimental folktronica piece. I tried to create a musical kaleidoscope, an exotic journey that takes my listeners to a border town in Yunnan. I created layers out of acoustic strings, percussions, and swirling electronic production, in addition to elements of traditional folk music I’ve encountered. With diverse sonic and musical elements, this track creates a unique trip to the border town market.

Album Track Preview (Side B)

Track#5 “Terrace Fields”

“Terrace Fields” is a new-age ambient instrumental piece I created in September 2021. As the highlight interlude in this album, it creates a beautiful harmony of nature and paints a beautiful picture through soundscapes. I intended to use immersive audio storytelling to navigate a meditative walk on the terrace fields. I fused synthesizers with acoustic folk instruments like Hulusi Flute, Dizi, Gong, and steel drums in the vibrant passage in the outro. Besides diverse instrumentation, I incorporated field recordings into each track. I manipulated echoes of hi-hats and wood blocks to imitate the percussive sound of rain while panning sounds alternating from left to right to reach a surround effect. I also included the recorded sounds of footsteps and flowing water to imagine a walk passing the rice fields as the sun crosses the mountain. 


Track#6 “Cabin”

“Cabin” started with a poem I wrote. I composed the music in April 2022 and decided to let the instrumental arrangement inspire how I articulate my vocals. In terms of instrumentation, I created a diverse combination of ambient drones, woodwinds, keys, and drums. Like “Terrace Fields,” I incorporated voice memos I recorded back home years ago as additional layers of field recordings (0:16). In terms of vocals, I decided to use the form of spoken-word poetry to narrate a personal story about home and nostalgia. In addition, I integrated the folk-inspired singing style from my hometown into the backing vocals (3:25). 


Track#7 “Suitcase”

“Suitcase” is an indie pop track combining keys, drum machines, and calm vocals. As stated in the lyrics in the chorus, “it’s time to pack, but just a matter of time, a fact,” the song symbolizes the end of a journey going back home. I added flute sounds in the interlude to amplify the nostalgic feelings. I ended with a sound design that imitates the camera flash to mark the journey.


Track#8 “Sunset Sunrise (Outro)”

The last track is titled reversely to the opening track. I created a dreamy ambient composition with the decoration of city soundscapes and heartbeats. The song signifies the end of a journey, but a new journey always awaits.

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