Eight Houses is based on the I-Ching’s Ba Gua and 6 double Trigrams (hexagrams). The Ba Gua has been popularized by such TV shows as Lost, found on the Dharma Initiative’s Seal. Some of the Eight Trigrams from the Bagua are found also on the Korean, Sri Lankan and Vietnamese flags.
At the heart of the I-Ching is the Ba Gua which actually is an elaboration of the concept of Yin and Yang, opposing yet complimentary forces. The trigrams are symbols that represent different permutations of Yin-Yang. An unbroken line represents Yang and a broken line represents Yin. So a trigram with 3 unbroken lines would be the ultimate pure Yang energy.
The Eight trigrams that form the Ba Gua are the following (paired as opposing/contrary forces, like Yin and Yang): Earth – Heaven, Fire – Water, Wind – Thunder and Lake – Mountain. There are two arrangements of the Ba Gua, one is a more abstract, universal arrangement that orders them by opposites. This arrangement is used in Feng Shui for ancient burial sites among other things. King Wen’s arrangement is the more practical ordering which is used in Feng Shui for design and also, it is this arrangement that is used primarily for describing relationships in the I-Ching. This arrangement also describes the cycle of life, the seasons and compass points:
Thunder/Arousing – causes the primal energies that create, Wind is an inexorable force that forms the building blocks of life, like DNA or the shape of a mountain, Fire is the moment that a seed sprouts and starts growing towards the sun, it is also the moment that perception is born between people, the moment Adam and Eve noticed they were both naked, Earth is the the purest Yin energy that nurtures and yields to support and sustain life, the Lake/Joyousness/Stagnation is when plants blossom and mankind can enjoy the fruits of their labor, Heaven, the purest Yang energy is when forces of light and dark begin to battle and ultimate creation takes place, Water/Abyss is the winter months when animals hibernate and for humans, it is when there are trying times. And out of this energy there is the Mountain/Stillness when things come to an end and also when things begin. It is a moment of meditation and stillness.
The movements in Eight Houses have been ordered to represent for me the description above. The only pure formula (serialization) I used in composing this piece was from my own theory of harmony, micro-functional tonality, which I’ve been using for awhile now in all of my pieces. I did not come up with a one-to-one analogous relationship between the hexagrams and trigram and
music in terms of tonal centers or rhythms. I also did not use chance to decide or determine any parts of the composition. In one section I did use a clave based on hexagram 15, entitle Enthusiasm. This clave provides a driving force for the 3rd movement: Fire. In it’s entirety this piece seeks to artistically represent the basic building blocks/energies that make up the I – Ching.
I would like to give a big thank you to all of the musicians and the staff at Roulette for inspiring me and making this concert possible.