Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





David Schober

Committee Members

Anne Stone

Jeff Nichols

Andre Myers

Subject Categories

Composition | Music Theory


Unsuk Chin’s Hyper-Sheng


The Korean composer Unsuk Chin (b. 1961) is constantly exploring new sonic experiences in her works; her concerto Šu for Sheng and Orchestra (2009) is drawing considerable attention, as it is Chin’s first piece written for an Asian instrument. This study begins with a simple inquiry How does Chin combine an Asian instrument (sheng) with the Western orchestra? To answer this question, this research examines Chin’s treatment of the sheng and the development of the orchestra in partnership with the solo instrument, focusing on the creation of what she terms a “hyper-sheng:” the solo sheng and the orchestra collaboratively producing a large-scale version of the sheng’s sonic structure. The hyper-sheng is achieved through the manipulation of orchestration, chord expansion, intricately layered rhythms, and numerical proportions. Instruments are combined and recombined in a series of shadows and echoes of the sheng sonority; chords are assembled or disassembled in the same manner as the polyphonic tones of the solo instrument; and the number seven is woven through rhythmic patterns and unit coupling underlying the larger structure, creating an extensive sonic and structural development. By illuminating Chin’s compositional working methods and instrumentation techniques, this research will contribute significantly to the growing body of scholarly work on Unsuk Chin.