Han Liu

Composer

Canada

Author

About

I am an amateur musician who wants to share my music with more people

Videos

Sheets

Interview

What does music mean to you personally?

I see music as a tool with which I can express myself, also a source where I have derived so much joy and comfort. I am incredibly grateful to have learnt music before I reached my adulthood.

Do you agree that music is all about fantasy?

Yes, to an extent I suppose that is true. However, I can also see how for many composers the art of music making can be extremely analytical, even mathematical. By that I mean the exploration of the various facets of a seemingly simple thematic material.

If you were not a professional musician, what would you have been?

Although it is something that I have aspired to be for a long time, I still would not identify as a professional musician. After all, I do have my post-secondary education in engineering. But if I were to have another hobby other than music… I do wish I am more athletic sometimes.

The classical music audience is getting old, are you worried about the future?

Not at all. I think it is pretty much a fact that classical music has left its mark in almost all major modern genres. Plus, we have people like Jacob Collier, Cory Henry, Qigang Chen and Max Richter who are giving the genre a new spin, making it more palatable to the younger generation.

What do you envision the role of music to be in the 21st century? Do you see that there is a transformation of this role?

My opinion is that music has ceased to be something that one has to attend conservatoires to study, given the much easier access to information we enjoy nowadays thanks to technology. As a result, more people can afford to have music education and to develop enough expertise to use it as a tool of expression. Especially with the advances in artificial intelligence, I suppose in the future the only jobs that are worth something will be those that involves human creativity. I hope music will one day become a common tongue that most people can speak, much like a lingua franca. I am very optimistic.

Do you think that the musician today needs to be more creative? What is the role of creativity in the musical process for you?

I would not pretend to know what it means to be a musician, but I supposed music is one of those jobs where creativity is a mandatory requirement. This translates to how we interpret music or even improvise on the spot. Without the human touch, what is the difference between a musician and a synthesizer?

Do you think we as musicians can do something to attract the younger generation to music concerts? How would you do this?

This is a difficult question, but I think more exposure will certainly help. A good place to start would be more funding in music education.

Tell us about your creative process. What is your favorite piece (written by you) and how did you start working on it?

This prelude was inspired by a small creek that I always walked by on my way to the lecture hall in 2016. My life was very hectic back then; so the burbling stream and the summer heat really offered me a moment of peace there. I just heard the three-note theme “G# - B – F#” in my head, which eventually became the B section in this piece. The rest was mostly improvised. I would not say that I have a creative process. Sometimes I find a cool sound when I noodle around on a keyboard; I just have this urge to write it down and share it with the world.

Can you give some advice for young people who want to discover classical music for themselves?

My music teacher used to tell me, “To play jazz well, you have to listen to it more.” I think perhaps this applies to most things in life. My advice is simply to explore and find the kind of music that speaks to you. It was Chopin for me when I was a teenager. Later I began to appreciate Debussy and Stravinsky. Now I play almost exclusively Bach and Mozart for practice and have ventured out to learn more about jazz. I do not think there is a rigid rule that people should follow. Just go where your heart leads you and enjoy the journey!

Do you think about the audience when composing?

Not really. I mean I do hope people enjoy my music. After all, who does not love praises? But like I mentioned above, I am not a professional musician, so I compose mostly to record the cool things I’ve found in music for myself.

What projects are coming up? Do you experiment in your projects?

I am currently working on a short piece for my girlfriend. The style is similar to what you hear in 1980s Italian film scores. I do experiment quite a bit in my projects as I am still struggling to find my own voice. So whenever I hear something I like in a piece, I try to analyze it to understand why it speaks to me. The goal is to incorporate that in my future work. Hopefully, little by little, I will be artistically independent soon.