Swash of inspiration

Professor of Music Ching-chu Hu and the creative process

It’s something we’ve all experienced: there’s a problem; we have to solve it; and the clock is ticking.

Everyone has a strategy when faced with such a conundrum – some like to go for a run, others work on something else, and there’s the group that think best out loud. Music Professor Ching-chu Hu, however, takes a different approach.

As the composer recently told Classical 101’s Jennifer Hambrick in an interview, he finds the best way to overcome these hurdles is horizontally.

“Sometimes to compose, I have to almost take a nap, but I’m not sleeping. I lie down and start working at a figurative knot, so just when I’m drifting to sleep, a solution happens. Then I can work it out on the piano,” said the Richard Lucier Endowed Professor, who was speaking to Hambrick about his string quartet The Swash of Water and Red, selections from which aired on the Columbus Arts Festival edition of The American Sound in June, 2015.

Sometimes to compose, I have to almost take a nap, but I’m not sleeping. I lie down and start working at a figurative knot, so just when I’m drifting to sleep, a solution happens. Then I can work it out on the piano

The duo covered other topics relating to his creative process during the interview as well. For instance, his inspiration for this 2011 composition: water and red.

Water has always been a really powerful image for me, whether it is the gentle mist of rain or the sound of an ocean or how still and how cold ice is. And then the image of red I thought was very nice because it can mean passion, love, anguish, or anger. Both water and red have a variety of definitions, and I like to play with that,” he says.

The Swash of Water and Red, originally composed for the Ohio-based Sonus Artis String Quartet, contains five different movements, each one conveying a new relationship between water and red.

July 29, 2015