Issuu on Google+

Musical Routes China, The New Revolution Centro Casa Asia-Madrid - Mediateca Palacio de Miraflores Carrera de San Jer贸nimo, 15 28014 Madrid Tel.: 91 429 08 70 mediateca.mad@casaasia.es www.casaasia.es Casa Asia Consortium


index

Classical Music Popular Music Ceremonial Music Contemporary Music Compilations

China, The New Revolution

Musical Routes


Classical Music

China, The New Revolution

Chinese classical music is made up of refined and slow songs, mainly instrumental, which would normally accompany ceremonies with very strict protocols or to go with moments to study, create or discuss. When we talk about Chinese classical music we refer to the different musical traditions linked to governing elites and the social sectors close to them (intellectuals, merchants, bankers), traditions that deepen their roots in the beginning of the history of the country. The general corpus of Chinese classical music, result of a first artistic manifestation known as yuewu and that combined poetry, songs, dance and music, made up of refined and slow songs, mainly instrumental, which would normally accompany ceremonies with very strict protocols or to go with moments to study, create or discuss. Percussion, therefore, does not normally have great presence in this repertoire, being string instruments those who play the most important role. Among them all, “qin” stands out, being considered the most important instrument of the Chinese musical culture and of which there are references since the Zhou dinasty (13th Century – 3rd Century BC). Zheng, which as qin belongs to the family of zithers and pipa, a lute with four strings, complete this main trio of pinched string instruments that from the past have had a superior position as soloists regarding the rest of instruments, position which is due to the artistic quality of repertoires composed for them. Erhu must also be taken into account, a two–string violin and sheng, wind instrument with several bamboo canes joined to a body of a pumpkin and normally called mouth organ.

Musical Routes


Classical Music

China, The New Revolution

Wu Man is one of the most outstanding current pipa players and greatest exponent among the young generations of the interpretative style linked to the prestigious school of Pudong. Considered one of the most outstanding current pipa players and greatest exponent among the young generations of the interpretative style linked to the prestigious school of Pudong, Wu Man was born in the bosom of a family with a long artistic tradition. She was in contact with music since her tender childhood, her period as a student of the great masters (Lin Schicheng, Luang Yuzhong or Liu Dehai could be quoted, among others) at the Central Conservatory of Music of Beijing ended modelling her talent. This double album collects two recordings, separately edited previously, which perfectly summarize the two artistic sides of Wu Man, the interpretation of classical scores and the approach to more contemporary concepts. The first album, “Music for the pipa” (Nimbus Records, 1993) presents a repertoire of pipa where the artist, without any other company than an instrument, exhibits all the abilities that have given shine to her art: Simplicity, vitality, delicacy, passion, intensity, elegance, etc. In more popular songs (lively “Dengyue jiaohui”) and in more classic pieces (relaxing “Chen Sui”), Wu Man transmits all the poetic imaginary linked to the most refined Chinese culture. In the second album, “Chinese contemporary & traditional music” (Nimbus Records, 1996), Wu Man is accompanied by a group that includes Tien-Juo Wang (erhu, gaohu),Yang Yi (zheng) and Liu Qi-Chao (dizi, xiao, suona) to look through works by current Chinese composers (Tan Dun, Bun-Ching Lam, Zhou Qinru) and to revise, from a modern and respectuous perspective, some traditional pieces. The fact that Wu Man actively participated in the first projects that served to visualize and to project, in the mid-80’s of the 20th Century, the creativity of the new Chinese music could also be highlighted.

Wu Man

Chinese tradicional & contemporary music for pipa & ensemble Nimbus Records, 2000


Classical Music

China, The New Revolution

This recording allows us to enjoy the exquisite work of Louis Chen about the millennial musical corpus linked to zheng. From a western musical education, the first echoe that arrives to the mind while the song that opens this album is listened to, called “In thoughts of an old friend”, is of a melancholic blues from Mississippi River, which sounds through the tensed strings of an old acoustic guitar. However, the master that interprets that composition, from the period of the Han dinasty (202 BC – 220 AC) is professor Louis Chen. And the instrument that he plays is a zheng, as old as Chinese music according to chronicles. Louis Chen has been active for decades and his work has earned the respect of all his colleagues in the profession to recover, preserve and transmit the musical corpus linked to zheng (and to its predecessor, qin). In his task as a musicologist and as an interpreter, Chen has deepened into the classical and traditional repertoires to develop his own style. Moreover, in this album we can enjoy his exquisit way of stroking the strings of his instrument (normally a zheng has sixteen strings, even though some have more than twenty five), always adapted to the different needs that are established by music with such different purposes as a courtesan melody and folkloric tone. “The sound of silk and bamboo” is completed with several pieces interpreted individually by Li Kai (erhu), Lamzi Kun (tsi-tse, sheng) and Ya Dong (pipa), all of who were good friends of Louis Chen (in fact, Chen only took part in five of the thirteen songs) and excellent musicians, without a doubt.

Louis Chen & Friends The sound of silk and bamboo Network Medien, 1997


Classical Music

China, The New Revolution

To deepen into a classical Chinese instrument as sophisticated as a sheng, there are only a few musicians better than Weng Zhenfa, soloist of the Orchestra of Traditional Music of Shanghai, teacher at the conservatory of this city and creator of a sheng with 37 tubes, as well as the author of many albums. Among the Chinese classical instruments, the sheng is probably the most sophisticated. It is a wind instrument, made with vegetable elements (for the main body a pumpkin is used, for tubes bamboo canes) and with metallic elements (reeds that are made of silver to avoid oxidation) and used for millenniums in different moments of the life of the Chinese society (it has been quoted in poems by Confucius). The sound of sheng goes back to the organs of Christian churches and some academics place it as the predecessor of the accordion (instrument patented by Austrian Cyril Demian in 1829). In order to deepen into the aesthetics of the sheng, there are only a few musicians better than Weng Zhenfa, soloist of the Orchestra of Traditional Music of Shanghai, teacher at the conservatory of this city and creator of the sheng with 37 tubes, as well as the author of many albums such as this “Stream flowing”. In the hands of Weng Zhenfa, the sheng is the main character of this work, creating a great variety of environments, thanks to the capacity of the instrument to combine simultaneously different harmonic and melodic voices. The repertoire of “Stream flowing” is inspired in the popular melodies of different regions of the country (“Yi Meng” recreates a tone originary from the mountains of Shandong, “Lin Ka Yue Ye” takes elements from a dance of the zhang people, “Jin Diao” is based on a song from the province of Yunnan) and it includes a couple of adaptations of the classics of the Chinese opera (“ChaoYuan Ge” and “Gu Su Xing”).Weng Zhenfa is accompanied by Fu Renchang, subtle interpreter of the yangqin, instrument of the family of zithers whose strings tap with hammers (not like those pinched with fingers), such as the Persian santur or the cymbal of East Europe.

Weng Zhenfa Stream flowing, traditional music from China Celestial Harmonies, 2006


Classical Music

China, The New Revolution

The erhu, the two-string Chinese violin, offers us its great expressive capacity and it transmits a surprising vital happiness in this repertoire of traditional and new pieces. Two albums to enjoy the erhu, the two-string Chinese violin, and an enjoyable repertoire of traditional and new pieces thought for this instrument. To begin with, it seems that the expressive capacity of a couple of strings should be quite limited. But, for some reason, the sound of the “erhu” transmits a surprising vital happiness. Obviously, the talent of composers and instrumentalists also counts. And a lot. It is the case of these works that Lei Qiang has made around compositions by Liu Tian-Hua and Lu Xiu Tang, collecting the legacy of two characters with a lot of historical importance within the Chinese music of the 20th Century. Lei Qiang, who initiated in the art of “erhu” when he was only 15 years old under the teachings of masters Zhanh Huai De and Yu Feng Yan, did not achieve to reach the status of a soloist until the 20’s of the past century, when Liu Tian-Hua wrote a series of pieces thought to be interpreted with a “erhu” and became a reference of the aforementioned instrument. Before he completely settled in Canada in 1993, Lei Qiang was, for years, the soloist of the singing and dancing group of his home province, The Shaanxi Provincial Song and Dance Troupe, band with which he recorded these two albums in 1994 and 1997 respectively. This joint work highlights and stregthens the effusive touch of Lei Qiang, giving both albums this epic sound that is present in several occasions in Chinese music. In the first and the second volume we find pieces linked to traditions of different Chinese provinces and cultures, from Zhejian to Hunan, going through Jiangzi or Shandong.

Lei Qiang Chinese traditional erhu music, vol. 1 & 2 Oliver Sudden, 2003


Classical Music

China, The New Revolution

The interpretations made by these three companies are exceptionally nitid, a perfect occasion to discover percussions and the deep sound of the gong, which together with the variety of vocal registers of interpreters are the elements we normally identify Chinese opera with. If a show of Chinese opera seems difficult to understand for those who are not used to gestual, musical and dress codes developed for years, to approach an album that with no concession only collects the voices of the singers and of the instruments requires attention, concentration and patience of the listener. In the case of this album, the effort is worth it, because the interpretations made by the three participating companies (Shanghai Kun Opera Group, Sichuan Opera Company and Sichuan Yibin Opera Company) are exceptionally nitid. Especially in the case of the first one, of which an extract is collected (the first half hour) of their version of the piece “Dream of the Peony Pavilion”, a classic of Kun opera. As a style addressed to the most illustrated citizens, Kun opera has a refined character and its repertoire is usually based on accounts of Chinese literature more than popular stories. The other three songs (extracts of the operas “Gift of a Silk Robe”, “The Jade Hair-pin” and “Du Shiniang”) belong to the tradition of the opera of Sichuan, closer to these folkloric songs that for centuries have been the delight of the public from all over the country. In this case, from the first note the strong pecussions and penetrating sound of the gong are discovered, as well as the variety of vocal registers of the interpreters, are the elements we normally identify Chinese opera with. It is a shame that we cannot enjoy the infinity of visual details that complete the performances of the Chinese opera, one of the most ancient forms of dramatic art of the world (comparable to Greek tragedies) and declared Oral and Untouchable Heritage of Humanity by Unesco. But as a first approach this album fulfils its purpose.

Various An introduction to Chinese Opera, vol. 1 Marco Polo, 1994


Classical Music

China, The New Revolution

The calmed interpretation of Wu Wenguang goes beyond the borders of time and reaches us with all the emotional content that it has dragged for centuries. Anyone who approaches this album and has the patience to discover some of its secrets will be impressed. Lets begin with the instrument. Wu Wenguang is a qin musician, a zither with seven strings whose first references go back three thousands years in time. Despite its antiquity, the definition of the forma structure of a qin, as it has arrived today, did not happen until the Han period (22-220 BC). Let’s continue with the seven strings. Tuned in scales of five notes, they can be played in three different ways: To air, pressing them or playing with the harmonic ones. Combining these three possibilities together with the tonal characteristics of the qin, the sound is very appropriate for moments of meditation, calm and introspection, reasons for which it has always been enjoyed by those related to literature, philosophers and academics. Let’s now pay attention to the repertoire. Each one of the six pieces interpreted in this recording goes beyond the borders of time and reaches us with all the emotional content that it has dragged since it was created. It is the case of “Liu Shiu”, attributed to Bo Ya, legendary qin player who lived more than twenty centuries ago. Finally, we will focus on the interpreter. Aware of the value of each note, of the time that they all need to be devoted, Wu Wenguang works with calmness and patience, as if only since the deepest serenity he would be able to make the precise movements that allow him to recreate the poetic beauty of these ancient compositions. Up to this point, with all these elements together, it is very easy to say that “China, music of the qin” is, more than album to discover an instrument with, a stimulating work to get to know one of the sides of Chinese music.

Wu Wenguang China, music of the qin JVC World Sounds, 1991


Popular Music

China, The New Revolution

A civilization that goes back five thousand years, a country that hosts more than fifty different cultural groups, a cultural diversity worth knowing about. In a civilization that goes back five thousand years in time, in a country that hosts more than fifty different cultural groups, in a territory that covers from the Pacific coast to the Mongol steppe, the variety and richness of music linked to popular traditions must be, without a doubt, enormous. And even if the Han people is 90% of the population, different minorities have managed to maintain their own manifestations and celebrations alive. The Uigurs live in the tough plains of Central Asia, east of the country, three kilometres from the closest coast and whose instruments, songs and rhythms do not have a lot in common with those used in other parts of the country. Or the Miao and Dong from the mountains in the south who do have no problem in worshiping virtues of their rice liquour in the songs that accompany their parties. All this variety is also reflected in the appearance and development of instruments that come from a common structural basis, but that present local specific features. The use of a shared repertoire, instrumental or sung, can be important in percussion, especially in moments of street celebration like the arrival of the New Year. We cannot forget that Chinese opera, a very popular show for centuries (especially the Beijing opera) and that, despite having a more elitist vision, it has preserved its characteristic strident registers that surpise westerners so much. All in all, it is a cultural diversity worth knowing.

Musical Routes


Popular Music

China, The New Revolution

Related to the Breton bombard or the Turkish zurna, the suona has been considered a main element of the music of north China for centuries. Within a series devoted to the traditional wind instruments from northeast China we find this volume by Li Shiren, one of the last masters that knows the ancestral secrets of the suona. Related to the Breton bombard or the Turkish zurna, the suona has been considered a main element of the music of north China for centuries, whether they are religious, military or popular. Even if it doesn't appear quoted in Chinese texts until the Ming period (1368-1644) there are illustrations dated between the 3rd and 5th centuries of our era, where a similar instrument can be seen. In this album by Li Shiren (where relatives, students and friends take part) the high-pitched and penetrating sound of the “suona� can be heard, which in some songs is stregthened with a second or third suona of different dimensions and textures. The group is completed with other wind instruments (guanzi, shuangguan, sheng), percussion (tanggu, gongs) and string instruments (zhuiqin)to interpret a repertoire strongly linked to tradition, because Li Shiren and his family were usually hired to support all kinds of celebrations and popular ceremonies (the annual harvest celebration, a wedding, the opening of a business, a funeral, etc.). Due to this kind of events, the group could be paid up to 1000 Yuans (apart from tips), an important figure in its context. As a curious piece of information, we highlight that Li Shiren appears in photographs playing the zhuiqin, leaving the audience to his young nephew, Song Xiping, considered the master's follower.

La Bande de la Famille Li Chine: hautbois du nord-est, vol. 2 Buda Records, 2000


Popular Music

China, The New Revolution

The interpretation made by the prestigious The Orchestra of Chinese Central Music College, placed in Beijing and that brings together the best young musicians of the country is full of energy, happiness, details and ease turning the recording in a celebration of Chinese music. Vitality, epic poetry, versatility, strength, speed, etc. The instruments of percussion have been present in the musical traditions of all the cultures of the planet for thousands of years. China is not an exception. In fact, the different people who coexist in the country have developed for centuries their forms of expression, with the consequent evolution of the structure of the instruments, the techniques of interpretation, combinations with other instrumental families and repertoires (original or adapted). This album gathers twelve pieces from the traditions of different Chinese provinces, but with new arrangements made by different composers under the artistic directions of Wang San-Ti and Wung FuJian. This way, we travel from Fuenyang to Canton, going through Taiwan or Bejing, and we listen to new versions of pieces that can be found in many regions of the country, such as “General Command” or “Music for Chinese Lion Dance”. The interpretation made by the prestigious The Orchestra of Chinese Central Music College, placed in Beijing and that brings together the best young musicians of the country is full of energy, happiness, details and ease turning the recording in a celebration of Chinese music.

The Orchestra of Chinese Central Music College Gongs and drums for celebration, vol. 2 Wind Records, 1990


Popular Music

China, The New Revolution

This album allows us, through ten delicate and sensitive songs, to go on a fast and comfortable journey to know the wind instruments of the Chinese cultural diversity with some of its most outsanding interpreters, Liu Hongjun. The Chinese vast territory hosts many cultures, with all the diversity and richness that involves. And this album by Liu Hongjun allows us, through ten delicate and sensitive songs, to go on a fast and comfortable journey to know the wind instruments of some of them. The recording is opened with Xianren aisi, a piece interpreter with the millennial flute shun (some experts consider that it was created more than six thousand years ago). The Miao village is represented by “Feng zhi xuwu”, song where the lusheng is heard, derivation of the sheng or mouth organ. The melancholic “Nujiang wuyu” approaches the musicality of the yi culture, placed in the south of China, on the shore of Nujiang river. “Muying” takes us to the mountains of Yunan, melody of the tradition Jingpo executed with a tuliang flute. In the repertoire we also find a piece written by the soloist, “Hevian xi xinu”, devoted to the Dai people and interpreted with a huluxi flute. With an elegant and shy blow, supported by percussions and strings on counted occasions, without the need for any superfluous excess, Liu Hongjun shows us the reasons that have turned him into an outstanding interpreter and expert in Chinese traditional music, after his job in institutions such as The Chinese National Academy of Peking Opera, The Central Academy of Music or The Chinese National Academy of Opera and Dance Drama (where he was the first flute player). In these moments he lives in Japan, from where he is still involved in several projects linked to teaching, development and interpretation of his musical heritage.

Liu Hongjun Pipes of the minority peoples JVC World Sounds, 1990


Popular Music

China, The New Revolution

This album approaches us to the Autonomic Uigur Region of Xinjiang, in the western end of the People's Republic of China, en enormous land of culture clearly Central Asian that presents instruments such as the satar , the tanbur , the rawap or the dap and it deepens into the poetic tradition of ghazal. In the western end of the People's Republic of China we find the Autonomic Uigur Region of Xinjiang. This vast land (three times the size of Spain) does not have a lot in common with the reality of the coast provinces. Its culture is due to its evident geographic setting is clearly Central Asian: If we go through the name of the instruments (satar, tanbur, rawap, dap...) and we stop at the features of its singing to deepen into the poetic tradition of ghazal. The first album of this volume is devoted to the classic repertoire uigur, compositions defined by melodic modes (like Arab i or Indian ragas) identified with people's names and where long instrumental developments and exquisit poetic gloss are combined. The second album is centred in popular uigur songs and in dances of the dolan people, which Chinese ethnographers do not distinguish from the uigur people. It is a more direct repertoire and that presents an amazing diversity: It is normally said that at least every uigur plays an instrument and knows hundreds of songs, many of which exclusively belong to their family. This double CD is also recommended by the excellent book that accompanies the edition and includes a lot of information (surprisingly also in Spanish) and some photographs with which we can visualise the instruments that are used. And a last detail: In the small illustration that helps us to place Xinjian in the map, China shares its border with the Soviet Union. Times do change...

Various Turkestan chinois / Xinjiang / Musiques ou誰goures Ocora Radio France, 1990


Popular Music

China, The New Revolution

The repertoire of this recording, focused on the musical expressions of Miao and Dong cultures, is made up of songs that serve to express the first teenage seduction games or to highlight the imporance of alcohol in the everyday life of these people. It is a custom in certain Miao villages to greet new visitors with a glass of rice liquour. Generally teenage girls and who offer the drink, accompanying this invitation with traditional welcome songs that aim at consolidating this new friendship. This way, the first song of this album, “Les hôte sont les bienvenues”, sung by four Miao teenagers, is the logical introduction to the work carried out in situ by Francis Corpataux, Canadian teacher and musician who moved to south China to meet the different villages of that great region. In this territory, made up of the provinces of Hunan, Guangxi, Yunan and Guizhou, characterised by a mountainous orography, thirty different cultures can be found, some of which (like the Bai) have been present for two or three millenniums. The repertoire of this recording, focused on the musical expressions of Miao and Dong cultures, is made up of songs that serve to express the first teenage seduction games (“Je suis en amour avec toi”, “Où êtes-vous, mon amour?”, “Je te connais”) or to highlight the imporance of alcohol in the everyday life of these people (“Trop de vin”, “L’alcool de riz”, “Allons buvons”). As a perfect reflection “Je suis ivre” could be highlighted, a cradle song that gathers the same three elements (alcohol, dreams and tenderness) that normally appear in young and adult songs. Instrumental pieces are also included, where a lusheng (from a sheng or mouth organ) can be heard, a pipa (a four string lute), a di (two string violin, similar to a erhu) or a mantao (a long bamboo flute) and that present more elaborate melodic and rhythmical developments.

Various Les Miao et les Dong du Guizhou, chansons à boire et chants d’amour Arion, 1996


Ceremonial Music

China, The New Revolution

For Confucius, music was an essential element of his teachings and together with poetry and rites he conceived it as a means to calm passions and to assure social harmony. Religious or ceremonial music might be one of the most unknown manifestations of Chinese culture. For Confucius, music was an essential element of his teachings and together with poetry and rites. In fact, the philosopher considered music as a public institution because “it makes people good, it changes uses and it transforms customs�, conceiving it a means to calm passions and assure social harmony. With the consolidation of Buddhism as a majoritary religion, impregnated with elements of Confucianism and Taoism, the music that normally accompanied the Chinese liturgic ritual was defined from three elements: Singing, percussion and instrumental melody. This last element normally accompanied the most solemn, whereas percussion is used to strengthen moments of spiritual exaltation. In another completely different field we would place religious music of the cultural minorities of the country that offer a diversity of rites and that in some cases mantain the cult to ancestors and to the forces of nature, one of the basis of everyday life of many inhabitants of the country, alive.

Musical Routes


Ceremonial Music

China, The New Revolution

There is no doubt about Lo Ka Ping’s expressive capacity with the qin that has a powerful spiritual strength, as it can be felt enjoying the sensitivity these ten pieces show. The deep mistery that is drawn when the strings of the qin (or guqin) sound comes from the millennial Taoist tradition. In fact, it was Confucius’ favourite instrument and it has always been considered the ideal companion to accompany moments of reflection and introspection. This is probably the reason for which Lo Ka Ping, star of this recording, acknowledged that the best moment to sit next to his qin, to play or to compose, was at night, illuminated by the clear and relaxed light of loneliness. Taoist priest in a monastery placed on the hills of Hong Kong, Lo Ka Ping was not a musician in the usual sense of the word. Investigators consider that he only played his music in front of the public (in a concert held in Hong Kong in 1971) and that he hardly recorded. There is no doubt about Lo Ka Ping’s expressive capacity with the qin that has a powerful spiritual strength, as it can be felt enjoying the sensitivity these ten pieces (four composed by Lo Ka Ping, the rest belong to the traditional repertoire) collected in this edition. It is a material recorded in situ by Dale A. Craig, expert in Chinese music who moved in 1970 to the small Taoist monastery to learn the secrets of the qin from a person who held the values of the ancient Chinese culture. The book that accompanies the album includes three very interesting texts: An introduction by Allan Evans, responsible for this recovery work, an article by the aforementioned Dale A. Craig, published in autumn of 1971 in the magazine “Arts of Asia” and an open letter by Lo Ka Ping, written in 1920 and called “Must Chinese music be taught in Christian schools?”.

Lo Ka Ping Lost sounds of Tao, Chinese masters of the guqin in historic recordings Arbiter, 2001


Ceremonial Music

China, The New Revolution

Courtesan melodies, music of imperial ceremonies and songs related to Confucius according to the serious, relaxed and transparent interpretation, without artists or superfluous excesses, of Fleur de Prunus. The majority of music linked to imperial courts have very definite structures and dynamics, and serve to accompany ceremonies, events whose function is established by a strict protocol. If on the one hand these established rules would not have freshness and character, and on the other they have allowed this kind of music to reach us practically untouched after centuries of history. This is our case, because this album is devoted to the different qualified musical forms, according to some experts, such as Confucius. This is, courtesan melodies, music of imperial ceremonies and songs related to Confucius because they he is considered their author of because he use to interpret them. Despite the fact that all this musical corpus was forgotten after the Chinese Republic in 1911, the numerous and specific writings that collected the description of the instruments and partitures allowed their recovery after years. Under the direction of François Picard, the “ensemble” Fleur de Prunus begins with the work carried out in the mid-50’s of the 20th century by the great musicologistYangYinliu to show us a small part of this millennial repertoire (the album includes compositions of the 13th to the 20th centuries). As it corresponds to a space that had to maintain correction in manners, Fleur de Prunus’ interpretation is serious, relaxed and transparent, without artists or superfluous excesses, highlighting the vocal work of Shi Kelong and You Liyu. As instruments they dominate the serious strings of the qin, even though some elements of percussion, different flutes and the sheng appear in specific moments.

Fleur de Prunus Chine: Hymne à Confucius Buda Records, 2003


Ceremonial Music

China, The New Revolution

This album captures the essence of a tradition that comes from the music used in temples during the imperial era and has been mixed with the reality of villages to become in force in many popular ceremonies. Tianjin is an important city on the Chinese northeastern coast, considered the first port of the region since the 10th century. Thanks to the economic prosperity it has always had, its inhabitants have developed a rich and varied cultural legacy that in the field of music includes opera, percussion groups, epic songs and wind bands. We also come accross music for Buddhist rituals and ceremonies, called shen-guan in this part of the country from the two instruments (sheng and guanzi which are both wind instruments) that lead the interpretation of a repertoire that normally accompanies funerals and ceremonies to honour gods. This album captures the essence of a tradition that comes from the music used in temples during the imperial era and has been mixed with the reality of villages to become in force in many popular ceremonies. The recording is played by a prestigious group where, despite of the name and the repertoire, only Li Jinwen was educated by a Buddhist monk before the Revolution of Mao Zedong in 1949. The rest of instrumentists are seglar, even though they have a strong relationship with the religious life of their community. As the main soloist of the group, Li Jinwen’s guanzi leads the interpretation of pieces that accompany the different occasions where religion is present in the everyday life of people: The opening of an altar (Kaitan bo), the beginning of a plegary (Yan guo nalou) or a burying (Lanhua mei). But the most outstanding moment of this work are the twenty minutes of “Xingdao Zang�, suite that is normally played as a part of the fang yakou, night ritual of spirtual healing.

Tianjin Buddhist Music Ensemble Buddhist music of Tianjin Nimbus Records, 1994


Ceremonial Music

China, The New Revolution

The monks of the Quanzhou temple declaim like every afternoon, the litany of the evening ritual: Their voices come and go, moving around the space, with a magnificent homogeneity and dynamic, building a surprising musicality. Opposed to this repertoire of the group Tianjin Buddhist Music Ensemble (“Buddhist Music of Tianjin, Nimbus Records, 1994), closer to popular ceremonies, in this recording we find repetitive syllabic songs that from the West we often identify and wrongly as the only music representation of Buddhism. At the sound of certain percussion instruments, the monks of the Quanzhou temple declaim like every afternoon, the litany of the evening ritual. They are initiated young people, between 18 and 24 years old, who live away from the world in a certain way. While they recite their mantras, the sound of fireworks comes through the microphone with which the people celebrate the arrival of the New Year (the recording was made on the 29th of January 1987, beginning of the Year of the Rabbit). Forgetting the festival, they continue with their songs as if they were possessed by original energy. To listen to this recording with headphones involves entering another dimension. When one is the listener, free from the noise around us, we will centre our attention and we will discover how voices come and go, moving around the space, with a magnificent homogeneity and dynamic, building a surprising musicality that confirms the idea that there is no instrument comparable to the voice of human beings. Finally, we point out that the numeric partition of songs is purely orientative because the recording is developed throughout more than an hour without interruption. In fact, this album cannot be understood as a musical show because it is a cultural manifestation that needs to be approached considering its context.

Various Chine Fanbai / Chant liturgique bouddhique / Leçon du soir au Temple de Quanzhou Nimbus Records, 1994


Contemporary Music

China, The New Revolution

China wakes up connected to the world and many artists and music creators carry out their work with their body full of ancentral heritage an of the new recordings that arrive from other places Chinese culture has always considered music as one of the most relevant forms of the capacity of human creation. Moreover, in these moments of social change and cultural renewal that the country is living, we are not surprised by the fact that music is being revealed as the best path to express feelings, to transmit ideas and to share interests. After centuries in a certain isolation, preserving its traditions and values, China wakes up connected to the world in the Internet era, so many artists and music creators carry out their work with their body full of ancentral heritage and of the new recordings that arrive from other places. Despite certain restrictions established by authorities (restrictions that sometimes turn into censorship), in current China there are musicians that make punk, rock or heavy metal, others that express themselves through rap or singer song writing that search for new paths through traditional music, who are popstars able to move the masses, who move in the fields of jazz, soundtracks or European classical music and that, in many cases, present the added value of their cultural specification. Right now a few of these projects arrive here, despite digital networks. But taking into account the number of inhabitants of the country, it is not exagerated to imagine that from that side of the planet many interesting proposals would arrive in a near future. Here we expect them.

Musical Routes


Contemporary Music

China, The New Revolution

A surprising opportunity to listen to the original versions of a genre that in the 20’s came from traditional Chinese melodies and instrumentations to approach the concept of big bands of jazz and swing and that is presented in this album in remixes made by different contemporary artists. During the decade of the 20’s of the past century, coinciding with the appearance of the urban middle class, a musical western style became popular in China. Starred by a group of singers and film stars that were turned into idols, a genre that came from traditional Chinese melodies and instrumentations to approach the concept of big bands of jazz and swing in dance rooms in Europe and North America. This scenario was proliphic and well-known in Shanghai, the most important financial and commercial centre in the country for decades and that as a port city has been a natural space for all kinds of cultural exchanges. The effect of the Communist Revolution on the creative activity of the city, as well as the rest of the country, was devastating and any form of entertainment was banned. Before this panorama, the main characters of that moment had to rethink about the future and ended following different paths. Even though their music was not completely forgotten, it was marginated. These two albums recover a small part of the work of artists such as Bai Kwong (“Without you”), Gong Qiu Xia (“You in my dream”), Li Xiang Lan (“If only...”), Chang Loo (“All stars in the sky”) or Yao Lee (“Rose rose I love you”), with the particularity that their songs are presented in their original versions (recorded between 1920 and 1950) and in remixes signed by different contemporary artists. In the first volume the six versions were made by Ian Widgery and Morton Wilson, whereas in the second one the authors are the couple Matthew & Stanley. Without a doubt, a surprising window to a very special period of the most recent Chinese history.

Various Shanghai Divas in residence at Shanghai Tang, vol. 1 & 2 Emi Music Hong Kong, 2003 & 2006


Contemporary Music

China, The New Revolution

This anthology approaches us to the soundtracks of four films by the magistral Zhang Yimou, whose cinematographic career has produced beautiful projects where music plays an essential role. This anthology approaches us to the soundtracks of four films by the magistral Zhang Yimou: “Raise the red lantern” (1994), “The road home” (1999) and “Not one less” (1999). Students of the Cinematographic Institute of Beijing and part of the first promotion appeared after the end of the Cultural Revolution (promotion called “the Fifth Generation”), Zhang Yimou has built his artistic career with beautiful projects that have made us more interested in Chinese cinema. From his first long film, “Red Sorghum” (1987), he exhibited the power of his talent and a special interest in showing his vision of the world through female eyes. Another constant feature in Zhang Yimou's work is the important role that soundtracks play in the development of his stories. For this reason he has made most of his works with Zhao Jiping, who has always given back the trust placed on him by the director into great compositions creating from Chinese traditional music, colourful and shiny environments for the dramatic story of Songlian (“Raise the red lantern”) or from drawings with synthesizers the environments that help us follow the tour around different moments of the life of a Chinese family (“Lifetimes”). San-Bao, on the other hand, knew how to make the most of the opportunity given by Zhang Yimou and make perfect dresses for “The road home” and “Not one less” with a work close to the western aesthetics, but without abandoning the Chinese music elements (like the songs extracted from “Not one less” reflect, three variations of the same melody).

Zhao Jiping y San-Bao Raise the red lantern, music from the films by ZhangYimou Milan Music, 2003


Contemporary Music

China, The New Revolution

Four musicians in a unique space, surrounded by rhythms and melodies that come from its intruments gift virtuosity and achieve a curious effect of naturality to find a link between music and concepts of different traditions. The photograph of the back cover of this album shows us a trio with dark glasses and a challenging attitude. However, its music has a much nicer character than this can show. The collection of sayings cleverly says that sometimes the clothes do not make the man. This work was recorded in three days in Saint Peter's Church in New York and it is directed by Joel Goodman (synthesizers, samplers), author of five of the eleven songs and in charge of all the arrangements ?the repertoire incluyes versions of five known songs of the classical Chinese tradition, as well as a piece by Dai Yuwu and Huag Chiyi?. His intention is to find a link between music and concepts of different traditions in balance. In order to be successful, Goodman joined acoustic musicians such as Tao Chen (bamboo flute, Bao Li Zhang (erhu) and Sisi Chen (yang ching), who strengthen the affability that we mentioned at the beginning and characterises this album. Another strong point of “Of the marsh and the moon” is their process of recording, carried out simultanously by the four musicians in one space, fact that adds a curious effect of natuality. Surrounded by the rhythms and melodies that come from the keyboards of Goodman (the work with percussions is highlighted because one always thinks that they are acoustic), the rest of the band extracts the best of the instruments, especially Tao Chen, who is brilliant with his bamboo flute in the songs based on tradicional melodies. The added details (the noise of a Tibetan market, the strings of an Indian zithear, a street poet) decorate the obvious creative sensitivity of this quartet.

I·Ching Of the marsh and the moon Chesky Records, 1996


Contemporary Music

China, The New Revolution

From a creative task of quality, the project shows an evident will to develop Chinese contemporary music, combining the use of traditional instruments and melodies with western elements. Before made known as Dadawa (turning into the first Chinese artist who, living in her own country, published an album on an international scale since 1950) and approach Tibetan music (approach reflected in albums such as “Sister Drum”, Wea, 1995, or “Voices from the sky”, Wea, 1997), the singer Zhu Zhe Qin had already carried out several recordings in China. One of them was this work she shared, under the name of “Yellow Children”, with the He Xuntian and He Xun-you brothers, composer and lyric writer respectively (with the first one of them she continues to work regularly). From a creative task of quality, the project shows an evident will to develop Chinese contemporary music, combining the use of traditional instruments and melodies with western elements (even certain echoes of the Icelander Björk singer can be seen in Zhu Zhe Qin). Far from the stridency and nerves in a part of the musical culture of the country, the compositions that He Xun-tian are developed, ethereal, from the guitar and keyboard. Even, without a doubt, the element that best defines the album is the whispering voice, passionate and flexibile of Zhu Zhe Qin, that makes his the words of He Xun-you, beautiful texts that through simple messags express deep feelings like it happens in “The sea is gone”, “The unknown father” or “The child going far away”, connecting the contemporary connectivity with the historical and philosphical trace of Chinese culture. “Yellow Children” is a suitable project for those who search for an album that approaches them with no hurry to this music that opens new paths without forgetting their roots. In addition, the book includes the translation into English of the lyrics of songs.

Yellow Children Yellow Children Hugo Productions, 1992


Contemporary Music

China, The New Revolution

Tan Dun presents elegant pieces that can be enjoyed without the need of images and that stand out for the extraordinary richness of their instrumental details and the content of their creative discourse. Acknowledged as one of the greatest contemporary composers (he has written several operas and works on demand, as well as receiving many awards), the work of Tan Dun has been defined by the combination of elements of different traditions that are his or close to him (he was born in Changsha, province of Hunan in 1957 and lives in the United States since 1985) and for his interest in researching the possibilities of not very and nothing conventional. All this creative capacity has been unnoticed by the public that finally has been known through soundtracks like the one he made for the film directed by Ang Lee in 2000. On this occasion, however, their influences coexist and mix. This way, the epic-mystic character of the cinematographic adventure (a frenetic love and martial art story), Tan Dun opposes elegant pieces that opposite to what happens with other productions, they can be enjoyed without the need to be complemented with images. Only listening to “A wedding interrupted”, with the sections of wind and string instruments leading us through a relaxed melody, “Night fight”, dominated by percussions that decorate the scene without covering it or “Farewell” with the magistral combination of the cello of Yo-Yo Ma and the erhu of Ma Xio Hui building a beautiful and sad piece, to discover the aesthetic value of the work by Tan Dun. The inclusion of “A love before time” (sung in English and Mandarin by CoCo Lee, Asian popstar) involves a final streat that is not related to the rest of the work that stands out for its extraordinary richness of instrumental details and the content of its creative discourse.

Tan Dun Crouching tiger, hidden dragon Sony Music, 2000


Contemporary Music

China, The New Revolution

Faye Wong is one of the greatest Cantonese popstars and this album that collects some of the most important successes edited between 1997 and 2001 is a gift for the amazing amount of fans of this musician. She was named Xia Lin and was born in the bosom of a family with artistic antecedente ?her mother was a soprano). She is one of the most important artists of the Cantonese pop scenario, even now when she has decided to live away from studios and stages. Singer, composer, actress and model, she is a popular icon in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Korea and Japan. In fact, this double album could be considered a gift for her fans because it was distributed in many countries (even though all the texts included in the book are written in Chinese) and compilates some of her most important hits edited between 1997 and 2001. The first album includes 16 songs, sung in Mandarin Chinese, whereas the second album gathers eight songs with lyrics in Cantonese Chinese. The whole musical project evolves around Faye Wong's excellent voice, who has not approached very few registers (ballads) that adjust to a glove to her fragile figure and her vocal capacities. But the truth is that her career does not need variations, but she has assimilated the model of western pop (as the combination of orchestral arrangements and electronic effects the song “The last blossom� shows) as she has managed to become one of the greatest stars of modern music of East Asia.

Faye Wong The most favourite Faye Emi Music, 2002


Compilations

China, The New Revolution

Compilations will allow you to move at ease and security in the broad world of music that we will now present. In the broad field of the music of the world, compilations always play an important role, for neophyte that always aim at approaching an artist, a style or a country, for those who are initiating and would like to deepen into a field that they have just begun to know. The truth is that so many things happen on the planet (even more in music, an artistic discipline that is constantly moving) that it is impossible to know about everything. And it is never too much to listen to the advice of someone who knows about that world, as we do when we look for the best guide before going on a trip towards a further or closer destination. But for the music selection to become a really useful tool we must demand, at least, two elements that are essential: Certain coherence and broad information in the books that are included to turn to the sources if we decide to move forward. Under theses premises, in this section you will find discographic editions that will allow you to move at ease and security in the broad world of music that we will now present.

Musical Routes


Compilations

China, The New Revolution

A fast journey around the enormous musical variety that China offers: The maximum variety in seventy minutes, reflecting different emotions, attitudes, places, periods and circumstances. This anthology is a fast journey around the enormous musical variety that China offers. It tries to offer the maximum variety in seventy minutes, reflecting different emotions, attitudes, places, periods and circumstances. From the most classical tradition Yao Gongbai and Tse Chun Yan are included, qin players, Min Xiao-Fen and Liu Fang, pipa players, and a Cantonese opera interpreted by Zheng Jun Mian and Li Hong. As representatives of popular music Urna appears, whose voice takes us to the Mongolian steppe, Sinkiang Uighur Autonomous Region, Song & Dance Ensemble, example of the Muslim tradition of the east of the country, and some divas of the interwar period, such as Bai Hong, Li Xiang Lan or Gong Chio Xia. But the strong point of this anthology is the appearance of artists such as Cui Jian, one of the greatest rockers of the country, Ai Jing, close to the western concept of singer-song writer, or Hang On The Box, female punk quartet. Listening to this guide we go through a moment of ancient traditions of a millennial culture to pop, of reverenced sound to qin to the energy of electric guitars, from a song born in the Central Asian heart to the melodies that cheered up the frivolous nights of Shanghai. A very enriching experience that we owe to the musical selection and to the texts of the book made by Paul Fisher, an English music journalist that develops his job in written press and radio, author of compilations centred in musico from East Asia and responsible for Far Side Music, one of the best references when in Internet we search for music of that part of the planet.

Various The Rough Guide to the music of China World Music Network, 2003


Compilations

China, The New Revolution

This volume devoted to Chinese classical music gathers seven inspired and extense songs that allow us listen to three of the most representative traditional instruments of the country: pipa, zheng and qin. Within its series “Anthology of world music”, the US label Rounder Records devotes this volume to Chinese classical music gathers seven inspired and extense songs that allow us listen to three of the most representative traditional instruments of the country: pipa, zheng and qin. Curiously, none of these songs include a vocalist. Chen Zeming opens the recording with “Haiqing Na Tian'e”, composition for a pipa that, according to specialists, is part of a more popular repertoire of this instrument since the 13th century. Li Ting goes through “Shimian Maifu”, a classical writing for a pipa that goes back to the second half of the Ming period (1368-1644). The shortest song of the album, played by Ding Boling on the zheng is “Pingsha Luo Yan”, whose notation appears in a musical treaty published in 1634. From here on we enter the kingdom of the qin, whose deep, calm and nice sonority seduces in the hands of Guan Pinghu (”Liushui”, “Ao'ai”) like in those of Wu Wenguang (”Guangling San”) or Fu Xuezhai (”Meihua San Nong”), accompanied by Zha Yiping the the Xiao flute. The book that completes the edition and includes illustrations that relate the placement of the hands of a player of “qin” with different motifs of nature (a turtle coming out of the water, a flying dragon between the clouds) and that for centuries has served as a model for the learning of the technique of this instrument is highlighted.

Various China Rounder Records, 1998


Compilations

China, The New Revolution

Without a doubt, Aik Yew-goh's work can be considered the definitive compilation of Chinese classical music. And these four albums gather the best. On the first page of the book that accompany the four albums that make up this series, Patricia Bryers says: “Western classical music, with all its richness, has existed for hundreds of years. Chinese classical music, in comparison, covers thousands of years. To condense this enormous musical treasure in four albums has been an impressive job. This is the result�. In effect, these four albums (those you can approach at the same time or separated) summarizes the task that Aik Yew-goh has carried out for years as a musician and producer from his record label Hugo Productions, to preserve the tradition of Chinese classical music before it totally disappeared. Yew-goh travelled from province to province, crossing the vast Chinese territory several times with his recording equipment to find the old masters and collect the cultural legacy that they could offer future generations. Without a doubt, Aik Yew-goh's work can be considered the definitive compilation of Chinese classical music. And these four albums gather the best. The material collected was chosen by Yew-goh himself from his files and served to present, for the first time, his work carried out for years to audiences of the world. With a minimum number of twelve songs, every album is specialised in a family of instruments, according to the one that dominates composition: Rubbed strings (chinghu, erhu, gaohu...), pinched strings (pipa, qin, yangqin...), wind instruments (titza, suona, xun...) and percussions (drums, gong, zimbals, metallic cymbal). A universe to be calmly discovered with a collection made from the country.

Various The Hugo Masters, an anthology of chinese classical music, vol. 1-4 Hugo Productions / Celestial Harmonies, 1992


Compilations

China, The New Revolution

Three albums to enter into a world of instruments, sounds and textures that on occasions disconcert us, but have sublime beauty. Following the example of Alan Lomax with the music of the south of the USA or Béla Bartók with the Hungarian traditional culture, Josef Bomback accepted the challenge set for Ellipsis Arts (the prestigious New York record label known by the ambitious dimensions of its editorial projects) and it deepened into the enormous diversity and complexity of Chinese music with the purpose to carry out the selection that these three albums reflect. The result that moves from the classical repertoire to the popular tradition, between the voices that represent the current vitality and the echose that takes us to the past, between close environments to spirituality and instrumental tensions of festivity... The three albums are presented under both conceptual titles that group and present the recordings in a thematic manner. The first one “Sounds of our stories” offers in thirteen songs a review the instrumental diveristy of the Chinese classical music, in interpretations of reference artists such as The Huaxia Chamber Ensemble or Wu Man, the well known “pipa” player. With the second one “Many faces” we will go through the country to get to know the popular music of amateur musicians, such as two choirs (one made up of old people and another of teenagers) of the village of Xiachung (province of Guizhou). The third one “Spirit and wisdom” presents us the work of a group of young artists (Sisi Chen, Li Xinchen, Dadon...) that try to broaden the horizons of traditional Chinese music, connecting it to new forms of expressions and with elements of other cultures. Three albums to enter a world of instruments, sounds and textures that on occasions disconcert us, but offer us sublime beauty.

Various China, time to listen Ellipsis Arts, 1998


Musical Routes: China, the new revolution