• Du Yun
  • Hundred Heads (2014)

  • Channel Du Yun Publishing (World)

Hundred Heads was commissioned by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and Ludovic Morlot for its Sonic Evolution Project that celebrates the past and future of Seattle’s music scene

  • 2+pic.2+ca.2+bcl.2+cbn/4.3.2+btbn.1/3perc/hp.pf(cel)/str
  • 16 min

Programme Note

Hundred Heads is part of Du Yun’s Mythology series:
   Mythology I: Kraken
   Mythology II: Mantichora
   Mythology III: Hundred Heads

Listen to a recorded performance

Composer note
When I was asked by the Seattle Symphony to choose an artist who was a part of the local cultural map as my inspiration for a new piece, very quickly, I chose Ray Charles. I'm captivated by this creature. In a way, I think Ray Charles has its own incarnations, his breaks, his many before-life's. He wouldn't not take the enlightment once the monster dies with him.

The Hundred-Heads is a fish created out of a few words' karma by posthumous repercussions down through time. In a previous incarnation, Kapila had been a Brahmin who had become a monk, and surpassed all men in his knowledge of the sacred texts. Sometimes his companions would make mistakes, at which Kapila would call them "monkey-head," " dog-head," etc. When he died, the karma of that accumulated invective made him come back to life as a sea monster, floundering under the weight of all the heads he had wished upon his companions.

To me, Ray Charles is the echo of that spirit.

In my piece, traces of Ray's most-known tune "Georgia" is faintly suggested, so was his "Hard Times (No One Knows Better Than I)." Traces of his trademark brass rhythm is only hinted, often in breaks.

I often wonder our own musical language. What constitutes others, when does such becomes our own. When an assimilation evolves to an assault. When the boundary of the divide stops.

To Ray's spirit.

— Du Yun



  • Independent Repertoire: A Land of Immigrants — Perspectives from Abroad
    • Independent Repertoire: A Land of Immigrants — Perspectives from Abroad
    • The United States is a nation of immigrants, and so much of its artistic, linguistic, culinary, and cultural identity would be unimaginable without the contributions of those born outside America. The following works showcase the unique perspectives and striking cultural blends offered by composers coming to the U.S. from abroad.

More Info