20 Years Ago Today... remember?
Thursday, June 4, 2009 at 07:29PM
Cheevo in Audio, General, IVL Pitchrider, Rember Tiananmen Square, Technology, Tiananmen Square Protest 20th Anniversary

Great Sadness.

20 years ago I was a graduate student studying music composition at BGSU in NW Ohio. During the months of April and May, I got very caught up in the events that were then transpiring in Beijing, in particular, Tiananmen Square. How exciting and engaging it was to watch the brightest and bravest of a nation, the majority of whom were young college and graduate students like myself, staging such an incredible, peaceful demonstration for change in their country's government.

Remember, George HW was still president, and that was after 8 years of Reagan. Here in the US, it appeared to me at the time anyhow, that people of my age were only passionate about MBAs – Self- fulfillment, attaining things. And in full disclosure self- fulfillment and attaining things (but not MBAs) were things I sought and still sort of seek, but not something I was/am passionate about.

Every day I tuned-in to watch the demonstrations. It was gripping. A million people! The best and brightest of a generation - and they were going to do it! They were going to bring down the repressive Chinese government. I was excited. I was proud of them. How it impacted my mood – "look at these folks" I thought,  "Look at this movement – growing and evolving on the spot - no central leadership – an organic energy growing and spreading."

T-shirt produced by U-Chicago Chinese Student Union

June 4 through June 8 – what a crushing few days. Literally of course, as the Chinese government chose to wipe out the best and brightest of a generation. “Tank man” – such an inspiring figure – most likely executed with the other what - 3000 killed?

Needless to say I was devastated. That seems like a selfish statement when I look at it typed out on the page - it is.

But I was.

I can go on - I can ask, as many do; what was the ultimate impact those million demonstrators had in their country? Was it worth it? In China it has been written out of their history. The current generation of similar age really knows nothing about it, unless they sneak out on the internets outside of their own country. – sigh.


Back of the same shirt. Thanks to my bro Dave for the shirtAnyhow.

I was at the time writing a piece in support of the demonstrators in China. It was being written for my then girl friend (and now wife) to perform as a solo bassoon piece. Of course as an electronic music geek, I was looking to make it an ‘electronic’ bassoon piece. I was working with IVL pitch rider at the time, and the piece ultimately was developed for the bassoon with IVL pitch rider and digital sampler (quite the piece of gear at the time) with custom sound design and samples. It eventually became a lament. Here is a live recording of the piece perfromed at a festival in 1990. It seems horribly dated when I listen to it now - doesn’t really hold up.

But at the time it was a true expression of my feelings- my grief.

Grief I find I still have today.


Update on Tuesday, June 3, 2014 at 09:56AM by Registered CommenterCheevo

Has it really been 25 years? I still feel the grief and to some extent a sense of frustration. This of course pre-dates the Orange Revolution, Arab Spring etc. A decentralized organic movment for change. Such conviction and a willingness to stand-up for change. But what are the lasting effects - if any? It seems the old system is a gelatenous blob that oozes back in and assimilates and erases the effort.

But there is hope in all of this. A sense that these actions do move the needle.

Article originally appeared on Bosha-lou - Audio-Music-Multimedia-Technology-Life-Etc. (http://boshalou.com/).
See website for complete article licensing information.