Chinese music

World Music Exploration - Jane Zhang

We wrap up our exploration of Chinese music with pop artist Jane Zhang. In 2005, this Chinese pop superstar auditioned for the talent show Mongolian Cow Sour Yogurt Super Girl (also referred to as Super Voice Girl). 
Although she didn't win the competition, Zhang was considered the "breakout star". She has 15 number one hit singles and was named China's Best Female Artist three years running.
She made her debut performance in North America on the Oprah Show.
Here is Jane Zhang performing one of her hits from 2010, Can't Do It (Ban Bu Dao):

Want to hear more Jane Zhang? Click on the CD icon below and happy exploring!

(c) 2011 by Musespeak(TM), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.

World Music Exploration - Chinese Opera and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon Soundtrack

This week, my students and I are eagerly anticipating the May long weekend. It's our last breather before the final round of non-stop recitals and examinations.
It was a toss up between Chinese opera and a movie soundtrack. Like European opera, Chinese opera is a spectacle of song, instrumental music, drama and dance. However, the melodies and the harmonies are unlike European music. Here's a clip from Sacrifice of a Princess, complete with English subtitles:

  I can picture some of my students cringing. They do that with any opera music though. On the other hand, my dog loves opera and enjoys this clip immensely.

I imagine this next clip will be a hit for my male and female students alike. This is the second fight scene between actresses Ziyi Zhang and Michelle Yeoh in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. I really enjoyed this movie. The fights are beautifully choreographed, while the music blends in seamlessly into the fabric of the story. 

In this clip, the war drum aptly underscores the mounting tension between these two warriors.

(c) 2011 by Musespeak(TM), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.

World Music Exploration - Lang Lang

This week, we are exploring Chinese classical music. This was a hard choice. I could have picked some pieces that a few of my students are working on this year, but opted to introduce them to someone new.
Pianist Lang Lang is a colorful character. The New York Times describes this young musician as the “hottest artist on the classical music planet”. He has performed in sold out recitals and concerts major cities throughout the world. Lang Lang is the first Chinese pianist to be engaged by the Vienna Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic and many of the top American orchestras. 
I've heard that traditionalists don't like Lang Lang's style because he is dramatic and flashy. However, he's a fan favorite because he is dramatic and flashy.
Here is Lang Lang performing "Autumn Moon Over the Calm Lake". So far, my students say they picture geese gliding across the lake, people riding their bikes around the lake and people star gazing. Imagery at its best.


(May 11 addendum) Two of my students today found Lang Lang's movements and expressions highly distracting. One even said that "he looks like he's choking on a piece of gum" when we watched this video: Ah yes, a whole different set of imagery. This led to a conversation about how our outfits and gestures should reflect the character of the piece we are performing - amidst a great deal of giggling.

Check out some of Lang Lang's recordings by clicking on the icon:

(c) 2011 by Musespeak(TM), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.

World Music Exploration - Traditional Chinese Music

May is Asian Heritage Month in Calgary. My students and I are celebrating by exploring music from China.
First up is a performance featuring the guzheng, a traditional Chinese table harp. It also looks like one of the ladies is playing on a five-piece paigu (tunable traditional drum-set).
Unfortunately, there is no title to this particular number. However, our world music exploration so far has shown that traditional music tends to be about historical events, nature or daily life long ago. It is very easy to imagine battle scenes during the driving parts and a graceful dance during the slow, middle section.
Here is the music video:


(c) 2011 by Musespeak(TM), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.