music is life, music is breath, music is us


Derek Kortepeter- “61: 中孚 (zhōng fú), ‘Center Returning'”

This piece was the final assigned project for my private composition lessons with my mentor James Newton for a grade at UCLA (turned in literally days before graduation). The parameters given were to initially focus on the work as a percussion piece, but Newton and I realized the potential for the piece (as it developed) and it became so much more than that. The end result was an artwork that James called “my best work so far” due to its “organic” nature. The piece eventually became a representation of numerous cultures; either through tonality, rhythm/groove, instrumentation, or otherwise. I take each influence out of a purely traditional context and thrust it into a syncretic one, whilst still maintaining their unique approaches and sensibilities. The last I wanted to do was to take musical concepts and instruments from the cultures of China, Tibet, Japan, India, and Europe (western classical) and use them improperly. The beauty of this piece is that it gives light to every culture I have presented in their own unique way, demonstrating their beauty and transcendence (my compositional influences like Philip Glass and others have done this as well, so I am merely following in their path). The threads that run through zhōng fú are my ethnomusicological training, ambitious musical message, and my own life philosophy rooted many ways in Daoism. The title of this piece actually refers to the I-Ching and a specific hexagram of it, a book that is very important to Daoists (in spite of the book being far older than Daoism itself, and having significance to many other philosophies of thought as well). I have written with the I-Ching in mind before, I anticipate this will not be the last time. I thank you for taking the time to read this, and I hope you enjoy listening.


O-daiko (2 players, one per side)
Timpani (6 drums: two 32 in., two 29 in., one 26 in., one 23 in.)
Snare Drum (concert snare)
Tibetan Cymbals/Gongs (4 pairs of Tingsha, 4 pairs of Timsha, 6 Tibetan Prayer Gongs (10 in.-15 in.))
Bianzhong (tuning: C2-B2)
Buddhist Temple Bells (tuning: C2-C3)
Tibetan Bells (12 gchang, tuning C2-C3, C4, D4, C5, D5)
Chinese Gongs (chau gong, bao gong, 4 pasi gongs sizes 12 in.-15in., 15 in. tiger gong, shueng kwong gong, 8 feng gongs sizes 15 in.-22 in.)
Pipa (concert grade Rosewood model)
Guzheng (concert grade Rosewood model)
Tabla (copper)


2 responses

  1. mikeslayen

    Great piece! I like the sound of the timpani with the Eastern instruments. Great job! Sorry if this posted twice

    July 3, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    • lol thanks dude, glad my brain produces some pleasing stuff.

      July 4, 2014 at 9:45 am

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