Seaside Garden

A first attempt at songwriting.

The score for this piece has been made available online.

Seaside Garden is composed for HKUST's Call for Scores for the School Anthem.1 I present my rationale below, at the expense of being cheesy.


My journey with HKUST started three and a half years ago. This was a period of becoming, exploration, and development. To me, the university is like a garden: cultivating and nurturing flora and fauna, a peaceful sanctuary, a place of life and beauty. Situated near the sea, HKUST stands firm as waves ceaselessly crash against its foundation.

But what's a garden without birds? A garden is a place where birds can flourish and grow before departing and exploring the outside world. There are countless kinds of birds: wisened owls, agile peregrines, shrewd crows, and hardworking weavers among others. The garden and birds live in symbiosis. The garden provides nutrition and shelter; in exchange, birds spread seeds and pollinate flowers. It is well-known that birds digest fruit from one end and discharge (plus fertilise!) seeds from the other end, planting these gifts to who-knows-where. Without birds, the world becomes a very dark and dismal place.

HKUST's iconic sundial goes by many names. In Cantonese, it's colloquially known as the turkey (literally, fire chicken). Some university groups such as the Red Bird and Firebird teams name themselves after the sculpture. Indeed, it is difficult not to feel a fiery sensation when looking at the sundial.2 The name it was officially given was "Circle of Time", a timeless tribute to humanity and a reflection of Earth's endless cycle. Although the two HKUST campuses are separated by a border, the two are united by such a monument.

Further references include the purple orchid, storms, and other subtle things. The purple orchid—aka the Bauhinia, Hong Kong's national flower—was included in view of HKUST's commitment towards the development of Hong Kong. Storms, on the other hand, are an inevitable part of life in Hong Kong and neighbouring ports.

Composed in the final week of the year 2022 and released on New Year's Day 2023, it is my wish that this song instils vision and harmony in learning and teaching throughout the HKUST community.


I'm no lyricist, but for completeness and posterity here are my jank lyrics.

Verse 1
Seedlings sprout forth
As purple orchids bloom.
And birds start the morning
As they sing a joyful tune.

Pre-Chorus 1
Oh the sun rises and falls,
In an endless Circle of Time.
And clouds can't hide the rays that shine from above.

Chorus 1
But though storms and strife may rage all night,
Our journey carries on.
Oh, the seaside garden,
Our community.

Through storms and strife we'll find our way
As one in unity.
In the seaside garden,
Our community.

Verse 2
Blow far, far away.
And birds leave the treetops
As they fly off on their way.

Pre-Chorus 2
The stars rise and fall
In an endless Circle of Time.
And clouds can't hide our voice and fiery call

Chorus 2
And through the books, the toil,
The sleepless nights,
Our journey carries on.
Though storms and strife may rage all night,
Our path is not forgone
Let vision guide all our hearts
Through vivid dreams and youthful hope.
In the seaside garden,
Our community.3

Chorus 34
And through the times, the trials,
The countless miles,
Our venture knows no end.
Wind and water carry far
The gifts that we present.
Let virtues latch on our wings
With steadfast bonds and harmony.
Oh seaside garden,
Our family.3

From the seaside garden,
We fly!
We fly!

  1. It didn't get accepted, sadly. But that's okay. ↩︎

  2. Up to interpretation, of course. Perhaps it's a fiery love. A fiery joy. A fiery excitement. It could just as well be a fiery hatred, anger, or diarrhoea. ↩︎

  3. May interchange between "community" or "family". ↩︎ ↩︎

  4. May repeat Chorus 2 instead, or sing Chorus 3 twice. Ad lib. ↩︎

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