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La Trace du papillon

for violin and orchestra (2020)

Formation,, 3 perc., 1 hrp., 1 pf., vn. solo,


c. a. 12'

Work Year


First Performance

October 1, 2020. Studio Ernest-Ansermet, Geneva, Switzerland.


Violin: Meiko Nakahira

Direction: Pierre Bleuse

Orchestre de la HEM

Programme Note

In April 2019, I was taking a walk in Ravenscourt Park in London, where I lived back then. I took a pause, completely exhausted of writing <L’oiseau dans le temps>, a 25 minute piece for oboe and ensemble in which I wished to become a bird and transcend the time’s polarity as I saw it – strict and free. Through the piece, I eventually wanted to break free from the chains of time and escape to a more liberated space. Ironically, to write the piece, I had to put myself in the time of ‘strictness’, limiting my life to cramped space. It is no wonder I was absolutely mesmerized as I saw a butterfly flying during my walk. The butterfly’s trajectory was free, and it made beautiful shapes in the vast air. I could observe some sort of afterimages being created where the butterfly flew, and there was the beginning of <the trace of butterfly>.

The Korean title of this piece would be 나비의 궤적(nabieui gwaejeok). The word for ‘trace’ in Korean, 궤적(gwaejeok), implies two meanings: the path, line or shape itself of the butterfly’s flight, and the mark left where the butterfly has passed. Thus, the word both consists of verticality and horizontality. In this piece, I wanted to explore both vertical and horizontal aspect of butterfly’s trace through the relationship between the soloist and the orchestra, and the harmonic system. As the butterfly(violin) flies, it leaves the trace or afterimages behind the orchestra. The violin solo’s passages, or harmonies remain in the orchestra in different tempos, lengths, or gestures. The trajectory of the butterfly was described by the rotation of 7 notes : E, F, F#, G, G#, A, A#, which I reordered as E-F-G-F#-G#-A#-A. The directions of butterfly’s trajectory constantly makes its shifts throughout the piece by rotating and folding within 7 notes, sometimes to 3 notes (E-F#-F), and 4 notes (E-F-G-F#, or E-F-G-G#) and etc., until the butterfly flies away after reaching the harmony of a different nature, composed of the rest 5 notes (B, C, C#, D, Eb).

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