Darren Sng

Common Holly – Ilex aquifolium  

Composed entirely of sleigh bells, this piece paints a musical soundscape around the Common Holly tree. These sleigh bells are sampled, manipulated and organised to form a piece based on a one-minute loop. Some of these manipulative processes include time stretching, reversal and pitch correction.

The musical result is a cold and wintry colouristic atmosphere amidst a warm and luscious harmonic backdrop, reflective of the chilly external climate yet homely spiritual temperature of Christmas – an inextricable association to the Holly.

It is also worth noting that some species of birds take refuge in the tree, using its spiny leaves for protection against predators.

Manna Ash – Fraxinus ornus  

Fun fact about the Manna Ash tree: it is a species known for the toughness and stability of its wood. These qualities may be attributed to the elasticity of the wood, which supposedly allows it to resist abrasion and makes it able to absorb impact without splintering.

The sturdiness of ash wood is translated musically through my piece constructed entirely out of wooden percussive instruments (in particular, a variety of woodblocks). These sounds are subjected to various types of electronic distortions while still retaining their fundamental sonic qualities.

Darren Sng is a Singaporean-born composer living in London. He is studying for a BMus (Composition) with Kenneth Hesketh and Dai Fujikura at the RCM. Having been occasionally discouraged from writing overly-ambitious music in his earlier years as a composer, Darren’s current artistic direction remains ironically driven by a stubborn urge to challenge instrumental conventions in extreme yet meaningful ways. His compositional output includes music such as ‘Baby Bird in the Forest’ for wind mouthpieces, ‘Oil on Canvas’ for solo suspended cymbal with brushes and ‘Unison for (string) Quartet’.