Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Cui Jian, Zheng, Pipa, and Erhu (paca)

The following is a clip of the most famous Chinese rocker Cui Jian. This is from the mid to late 80s and in many ways sounds like it. Even people who don't really do music the way I do may find the first 2 minutes of this pretty interesting. The song leads in with some amazing work on the traditional Chinese instrument called the Zheng. The whole band then joins in with electric guitars and the like. It's amazing how much power she gets out of that thing. (If you kind of like hearing the zheng in a rock context, just wait about 20 seconds through the interview (at around 3:00 minutes) and there is another song, which includes significant zheng work.)

Cui Jian

I was so inspired by the Zheng on the Cui Jian tune that I went looking for other examples of traditional Chinese instruments sounding amazing. I have a track from Peter Gabriel's Real World studio from "Arcane" called "Chinese Canon" which includes both the erhu and pipa, along with synths and guitar. I found that someone used this piece for their home movie of a visit to the Great Wall. Close your eyes and try to ignore the people talking and just listen to the music. I love falling asleep to this thing. Hard to find anything more peaceful.

Chinese Canon and home video

The erhu is the violin / cello like instrument. If you want to see what it looks like, here are a couple people practicing the erhu here and here. And you can see it in an orchestral context here. And if you'd like to see the pipa in action, here are two traditional tunes by pipa masters. Here and here.

Finally, if anyone is actually still following this, here is a whole bunch of traditional instruments in a pseudo-pop format of today.

12 Girls Band

Huh. You know, I started out just wanting to post a Cui Jian clip for all of you.


bunnygirl said...

Are you into all kinds of music? Dan has been working with one of our university profs on a Tejano music presentation. He's learning a lot of stuff that would be very interesting to someone who's into that sort of thing. Me, my eyes glaze over when he starts talking about which kinds of bands use an accordian, and whether or not they use the bass keys.


But he's thinking of putting up a music blog to write about all this. If it's your kind of thing, let me know and if he ever actually does it, I'll let you know.

(BTW, Dan lived 2 years on a New Mexico ashram where Vic Briggs taught him to play guitar. For real. I kid you not.)

pacatrue said...

Yeah, I'm into music of all sorts, and Dan's info on Tejano sounds just like the sort of thing I bore N with as well. So if he ever does the blog, feel free to send me the link. However, I might not make a great showing as I had to look up both the words "ashram" and who Vic Briggs was. !! Shock! So an Ashram sounds like an Indian-related temple retreat sort of place, and Vic Briggs is a rocker / blues guy who got into Indian music in the 70s along with a Sikh conversion? I will admit that I know really, really little about South Asian stuff. At one point I could rattle off a number of Buddhist schools of thought that are 2000 years old, but after that I get pretty sketchy. Actually, I desparately wanted to do this semester abroad in a Buddhist temple / study center when I was in grad school, but they wanted some several thousand dollars that I couldn't come up with. I wasn't on the parental dole anymore by that time.