Danza Hungara : Sounds of mystery and elegance

Jolynn (clad in white dress) posing a photo with those involved throughout the process of the music video.

As a form of entertainment, the native population of Hungary and its neighbours, as well as the Hungarian diaspora performed the Hungarian dance. It is a cultural dance that was practised during the middles ages, 18th and 19th century.

The dance will be accompanied with sets of folklore tunes in the background as crowds watched the dances in session.

During the 19th century, Johannes Brahms, a German composer, pianist and conductor arranged 21 piano pieces based on the Hungarian themes. Called the Hungarian Dances, the set varies from a minute to five minutes in length, with each arranged for a wide variety of instruments and ensembles.

Among the pieces was the Hungarian Dance No 6 — its tunes were that of a merge between mystery and elegance.

International piano virtuoso Jolynn J Chin recently picked up the piece as part of her ongoing extended play (EP) which already consist two songs — Toccata and Billie Jean. With a Spanish translated title, ‘Danza Hungara’, Jolynn shared that she decided the name for her latest EP in that language as her producer, Roger Montejano hails from Madrid, Spain.

Released on April 19, New Sarawak Tribune approached her for a quick insight pertaining the piano piece.

Part of the music video: Drummer Gagah in action.

Part of the music video: Dancer dances gracefully in the video.

Why did you choose to play Danza Hungara?

I wanted to bring in another classical crossover track in my EP, and since Toccata got tremendous support and many of my fans were asking for more of those classical and modern sounds combination, I decided to do one with this famous tune from Brahms.

The characteristics of your latest single.

We actually kind of made this simple melody of The Hungarian Dance no.6 by Brahms totally different, in a way that takes you away from the original piece itself, and to a whole new piano arrangement of it. But in contrary to that, listeners will still be able to identify this famous tune, but at the same time, know that this is like a whole new different song. It’s like: I know it’s this tune, but it’s not! And that’s what we wanted the listeners to feel in Danza Húngara. On top of that, we decided to bring a tribal vibe to this single, we had everything tribal including the background vocals, the super big drums and even the electronic sounds you hear were tribal-themed. It brings a sense of “Hey, this is me, bringing you classical, but wait, I’m showing you what else can be done”.

Behind the scenes during the shooting session.

The process of it and the time it takes to produce?

We actually started off brainstorming ideas with just as simple and stripped down as it can be, just my right hand playing the melody of Hungarian Dance no.6 to see what we could come up with. And the funny thing was, the first mix we had sounded totally different from the real thing now. In fact, believe me, or not, we actually went more EDM with the first try. It sounded super crazy but we’re like, “Nope, this cannot work”. So we went back to the drawing board again and totally deleted all our previous work with the EDM version and started from scratch again. Somehow we experimented with a super slow tempo. Having each melody stretch really far due to the tempo being slowed down, I decided to get creative with the notes that I can use to fill in within this long period of time between each note. From then I came up with super crazy and different harmonies and chord progressions, even causing me to totally forget about what the real chords were in the original piece and just followed my ears and we thought that this was it and that this will be meant to be that ‘slow but epic ballad’ track in the EP.

Sarawakian Jolynn J Chin.

Explain the setting scene for the Danza Hungara music video.

It was extraordinary and I am really stoked that we actually did something this epic for the music video. We shot the music video in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, at a super huge cliff site called Tebing Breksi. We had to rent the whole area just to have everyone evacuate it during the shoot. And this place was filled with limestones, ancient carvings on the walls and it had an arena-looking concert space at the bottom that fits so well with this ancient, tribal theme in the single, and it was perfect for three of us (the dancer, drummer and I) to perform in the centre of the arena.

How was the experience like as you perform for the music video?

Honestly, it felt very surreal. Because me myself never thought that I would be able to do that and be able to one day shoot an epic music video in another country in some mountains and cliffs. It felt amazing and it felt like it was all just a dream. And it so happened that I was feeling unwell, I was down with a cold and been coughing a lot during the time of this shoot. I had to withstand the discomfort despite all of us having a minimal amount of sleep. The shoot started at 6am and we had to be there earlier in order for me to get dressed and do touch-ups. It was really cold at that time and I couldn’t put anything on and my costume for this shoot was just a flowy sling strapped dress so I had to push myself to be able to play against the cold wind blowing like everything was perfectly fine. As the shoot continued on almost towards 12 at noon, the sun was directly above us, and it was scorching hot. I remembered seeing the drummer, Gagah, hiding under the gran cassa every time we could manage to get a break in between the takes because the sunray gave him sunburn. The surface of the grand piano was so hot that you could literally cook something on it. I recalled also watching my dancer bear the heat as she had to dance on the hot ground at the limestone area barefooted. We kept pushing despite all this and I think that seeing each other push themselves motivates all of us to continue no matter what happens, and the result was fantastic!

Who was involved in the project?

Wow, there were so many people involved in this project. And honestly, I thought the project that involved the most people was Toccata. So let me talk about those involved in the music aspect of it. My music producer, of course, Roger Montejano, member of the Grammy Recording Academy. This song was also recorded in Lion Studios Singapore, and this track was mastered by the Grammy award-winning Mike Couzzi too!

For the music video team, we got to work with an amazing director from Indonesia, Bimo Adji. He is so talented and he is only 19 years old! His team consists of other great talented people, we had Daffa who was our photographer and the one who was in charge of Behind The Scenes footages, and Rizky and Damay who had the drone flying for the shoot.

We also worked with an amazing dancer from Indonesia, Octa and a fantastic drummer Gagah who is also from Indonesia and these 2 are graduates from the Indonesian Institute of the Arts in Yogyakarta. And not to forget our super helpful guide who helped in connecting us to everyone involved from 2 different countries, Maria from BottleTrip.

Any other instruments involve?

We actually had many layers of different instruments and sounds to create a unique sounding timbre. We have had gran cassas, tribal drums, different vocals and many more all layered together to create the effect that we wanted. It was pretty cool and this was the first time we have had something in which we had to experiment with just so many layers of instruments.

With Jolynn’s next EP in planning to be released in middle of this year, her latest Danza Hungara can be heard on all major stores online including Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, Google Play Music and others, and even on Instagram Music in certain countries.

Jolynn J Chin began hitting the ground running in the music realm when she was in her childhood years playing piano. Known for her eclectic blends of classical cross-over styles with Pop & Jazz elements, she eventually manifested into a career as a solo artist in 2013, and since then has developed into a versatile and multifaceted artist with her own signature sound and stylisation.

Jolynn’s music is anything but ordinary. Her classy style and aura of performance resonate with a style that touches on equal parts of originality and familiarity, giving her audience a taste of something fresh yet still identifiable. Her music is also reminiscent of personal artist influences including Maksim, Havasi, Peter Bence, among others.

Since gracing the stage, Jolynn has had the opportunity to perform at a vast array of prominent venues and events, including the Kuching Waterfront Jazz Festival in 2018. She was also awarded the Gold Prize at the Asia International Piano Academy Festival Competition in 2016 in Seoul, Korea.

Stay updated by following Jolynn J Chin on her social media account at Facebook: Jolynn J Chin and Instagram: @jolynnjchin. Visit her official website at https://jolynnjchin.com.