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Collection of Distant Memories (2021)

Technical Information:

clarinet and guitar


Duration: 9'30"

Written for Bokyung Byun and Keeheon Nam

Premiered February 1, 2022

Keeheon Nam, clarinet; Bokyung Byun, guitar 


Program Note:

I. Grilled chestnut 

II. Ramen and nine-holed coal

II. Mom and mackerel


These three pieces for clarinet and guitar are based on well-known Korean melodies. During winters, it was common to run into chestnut roasters on the street! (Not so much anymore.) The smell of roasted chestnuts would spread over several blocks, and my parents would sometimes get the chest- nuts for me to snack on. The memory of me holding a brown bag, filled with roasted chestnuts, and waiting for my dad to open them for me is very dear to me, and even after 20 or so years, when I think of these memories, I can smell the roasted chestnuts on a cold, snowy day. The original melody is cheerful and energetic, but I wanted to make the melody to reflect my nostalgia.


Ramen and nine-holed-cole is a silly song from an animated tv-show Dooly the Little Dinosaur. Dooly and his friends enter a singing competition and sing this famous song where they talk about how the ramen cooked on a nine-holed-cole is the best. It is such a well-known tune, and my attempt in this movement was to hide the melody as much as I could! I wanted to make this movement as distant as it can be to the original source. The melody is stretched out immensely, and almost neglected. I used the original melody as a skeleton of the work, and wrote a moving, fluid line.


Mom and mackerel is a famous pop song from the 80s. It is a storytelling song where the singer finds a salted mackerel in the refrigerator at night while getting some water during sleep. That is his favorite food, and by seeing this prepared, he can feel his mom’s love. Love can be expressed in many ways. Parents from my generation or older tend not to be the most vocal or expressive. One of my mom’s love languages to her children definitely has been food. She may not tell me all things she feels about me or my siblings, but if we come back home, she asks us what we want to eat for weeks in ad- vance! Even though the original song is upbeat, and energetic, this song shares a very intimate sentiment. The movement is groovy and cheerful- I mean, wouldn't you be excited for your breakfast after seeing the salted mackerel?!

– Nicky Sohn

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