“Curiosity” – Companion Booklet

This post is to serve as a companion booklet to my bizarre release “Curiosity – Select Piano Compositions”.
It is available on 15 Apr 2022 on streaming platforms and digital marketplaces around the world.

Table of Contents

Album Overview

The title Curiosity and artist logo on my initial release cover were reused assets all the way back from when I started playing with music, first on our family iPad and then my Hackintosh called Toliman (common name for Alpha Centauri) … Those were the days.

My dad bought me a proper MIDI keyboard as well, which is still kept in our basement in China. The keys clunked quite loudly but at least they were weighted.

And no you will never hear what was in the first Curiosity.


The cover’s background graphics feature the Very Large Telescope situated in the Atacama Desert, Chile. I took a panorama of the nearby mountains during our 2019 visit with my iPad, ahead of a stargazing session that inspired more than one of the pieces below.

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Instrument / Technical Performance

For perceptual uniformity, all tracks were simplified (or rolled back) to just the melody, and synthesised on Apple’s Yamaha Grand Piano sampler in Logic Pro, which is then fed into a series of post-production effects as though the audio stream is an acoustic recording.

My lack of effort and dexterity in instrument training has been an ongoing issue awaiting resolution, and I welcome criticisms such as “one who cannot play the piano simultaneously on both hands but composes symphonies is misguided and likely preposterous”. I do have working knowledge of elementary music theory thanks to my physics and mathematical training, as well as self-driven explorations into the field during various study breaks.

Throughout this collected album, I hope that you’ll see progress and continued efforts of mine to improve my craft. Iridium Point will be better. I haven’t even written a song with vocals. Just you wait.

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Tracks






01. 5624

Year2017
KeyF minor
Tempo85 4/4

Notes:

A lullaby written to reminisce my own childhood. 5624 being the family phone number.






02. Welcome Home

Year2015
KeyD minor
Tempo84 4/4

Notes:

My first composition expressly for a project. In this case the intro music to Shandong Experimental High School Class of 2016’s farewell edit.

Stripping it back to the piano melody doesn’t remove much, and I wish this was more sophisticated when I submitted the song to the video editors.






03. Afar

Year2015
KeyC major
Tempo74 4/4

Notes:

An Iridium Point staple. It is funny how I’ve only now gotten around to officially publish it for the first time. So many editions were made or abandoned over the years, from a piano / woodwind duet version (2017) to a full sonata (2020). But the founding mix — the piano solo — gets to greet the world first.

I think the highly repetitive chorus says a lot about where I was in 2015, submitting this (misguidedly) as part of my portfolio for my US College applications — sorry Yale and Cornell. There’s nostalgia, and longing for wonders of the universe.

An alternative working title was “Universe, Movement 2”. Movement 1 was much less polished and lost to time.

A slightly older version was used in the following video.






04. 4Future / Four Futures

Year2014
KeyC minor blues
Tempo100 4/4

Notes:

This was written in Paihia YHA, Bay of Islands. I remember because that was my first journey to the northern tip of New Zealand. I missed my friends and wondered what lay ahead of our individual futures.

It was originally composed with an organ track and drums.





05. Berkeley

Year2017
KeyE♭ major
Tempo90 4/4

Notes:

From one of the rare insomniac nights I ingested #Coffee, and it was misty outside my apartment. I noted down the mood.






06. Fish out of the water

Year2018
KeyD major
Tempo82 4/4

Notes:

I’ve wasted too much time in Berkeley’s Morrison Piano Rooms, and produced numerous little jingles like this one. It’s rather funny that the only one of that collection I am publishing today, I do have intentions to reuse it for the next forward-looking project — with proper arrangement and live strings.






07. Room 77, Physics North (Originally 77 LC)

Year2018
KeyD major / Freeform
Tempo78 4/4

Notes:

I debated if I want to name this after the physics library or the physics study room. They closed the library in 2022 to help me choose.

This track was originally an electronica with drums and synths (and also 50% faster). Only the melody and some arpeggio made it into this edit.

Probably the least finished among this bunch of drafts I am publishing today.

Yes, this room.






08. Apollo 11 / Lullaby of the dark side of the moon

Year2019
KeyF major
Tempo77 4/4

Notes:

Iridium Point’s first commercial release back in 2019, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo mission.

I wrote this to create a mood reminiscent of Collins’ solitude and anticipation as he prepares to dock with the lander on the far side of the moon, all while being unable to radio any other human being.

There’s also a full mix on YouTube with Eagle’s radio chatter.






09. Against time

Year2019
KeyG minor
Tempo84 4/4

Notes:

One of the first toy tracks I wrote using Klimper, an utility on the iPad that makes circle of fifths quite visual to manipulate. I biked to and from university then, so this sounded a bit like speed-intense video game music like Alto’s Adventure, etc.






10. Enceladus / West Auckland

Year2016
KeyE minor
Tempo64 4/4

Notes:

This melody was revealed to me in a dream.






11. A Day on Triton

Year2018
KeyD major
Tempo79 4/4 (Variable)

Notes:

Another express compose-for-video project. As you may know, Triton orbits Neptune backwards, so don’t buy real estate there.

Watching the stars and your parent planet glide across your sky, on the other hand, is quite exotic indeed.

The triton video was taken down due to lack of editing / polish. You can watch my beans instead…






12. Not Even Light / Ode to Gravity / hawking

Year2019
KeyE major
Tempo79 4/4

Notes:

Written to celebrate Stephen Hawking’s work on the first anniversary of his passing. A full orchestral version is also available online, with a potential music video down the road.

This was the first draft, and I did play the piano by hand for this one.

The orchestral version has an experimental visualisation on YouTube (using the open source app MidiTrail)






13. TIMEFALL

Year2019
KeyD major
Tempo76 4/4

Notes:

Kojima’s Death Stranding and its score by Ludvig Forssell, though I never played the game in person, inspired me greatly.

This work was written after watching a few hours of YouTube game footage.

This score is a palindrome. Reverse the audio and check 🙂






14. Life in a droplet

Year2021
KeyA♭ major
Tempo72 4/4

Notes:

Venturing into more freeform compositions. This track will get more polish and an extension for my next project.






15. Tidal

Year2021
KeyE♭ major
Tempo99 4/4

Notes:

Ditto.

Both of them are used quite frequently in my STEM shorts.






16. Orange / Kubrick

Year2019
KeyF# major
Tempo84 4/4 (Variable)

Notes:

I have nearly forgotten why I wrote this and then titled it Kubrick. Perhaps I wanted to salute Stanley Kubrick’s artistic integrity and mastery.

It has been my own wake-up alarm for a couple of years now.






17. A Walk in the Garden

Year2020
KeyG major
Tempo59 4/4

Notes:

Written to capture a dream in the brief moments after I woke up. A distant friend in my life — now distant still — was chatting with me while waking in an ethereal garden.





18. Surface of Reality (Outro)

Year2022
KeyA minor
Tempo112 3/4

Notes:

A recent improvisation. We live and die without scratching the surface of reality. Some try.

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