Mixture of Tradition and Modernity
2003-9-2 17:07:02      CRIENGLISH.com
Hello, everyone. Welcome to this edition of China Beat, a musical tour brought to you by China Radio International to introduce today's China's most exciting contemporary music.

Bian Liunian's talent is widely acknowledged in music circles, who have given him the nickname of "Chinese Music Wizard". The next piece we're going to hear is called Turpan Girls, a piece that was composed after the musician's return from a trip to northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Through the music, Bian Liunian tries to help listeners visualize the beauty, hospitality and purity of the girls who work in the vineyards of Turpan.

Although he specialises in the erhu, the two stringed Chinese fiddle, Bian Liunian can actually play over 200 music instruments, and composes more than 200 musical works every year.
Bian Liunian believes that a good musician should keep an open mind and be versatile; in other words he shouldn't just be able to play musical instruments, but should also know how to compose and adapt music. He should be bold enough to experiment and break through frontiers to create new forms of music, and that's just what he has been doing. So now we again hear this familiar melody, Kangding Love Song, but it's a bit different from what we're used to.

In addition to updating ancient Chinese music, Bian Liunian has also attempted to use traditional instruments to perform western symphonic pieces. Chinese traditional music differs greatly with western music in terms of form, mode and harmony. So it's not hard to imagine how daunting a task it would be to adapt the First Movement of Bach's A-Minor Violin Concerto for the Chinese erhu. Bian Liunian is the first person who has tried to bring a Chinese touch to this famous classical piece.

As a pioneering figure in New Folk Music, Bian Liunian says that this style is a new form of traditional Chinese music imbued with Chinese spirit, but combined with various elements from different countries, and modern technology. He believes that folk music is a condensation of folk culture, and only when the cultural elements are infused into the music can it come to life. Therefore, Bian Liunian says that incorporating elements of foreign culture and music is one way of composing New Folk Music. The piece we're listening to, named Flower Street, is an example that uses elements of Indian music. The piece depicts a dream in which a snake charmer plays music to charm his snake and sells flowers in the street.

Being alternative in the eyes of many, Bian Liunian's music has been considered of the same character. You'll get a better idea in the next piece. As Time Goes By, the theme song from the film classic ¡®Casablanca', is probably one of the best known standards in the world. Although this tune has been adapted into countless versions, this one played on the erhu by Bian Liunian must surely rank as one of the most original.


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