Half a World Away

By Springer, Matt | Strings, January 2007 | Go to article overview

Half a World Away


Springer, Matt, Strings


Exploring celebratory music from China

IMAGINE WHAT A BEETHOVEN SONATA would sound like on bagpipes. Probably not the best example of one culture's music played on another culture's instrument. However, this kind of exchange is one of the great joys of making music: finding ways to bring two worlds together. The process of making this connection is fraught with considerations. Simply playing the musical notes of a tune from one culture on a different set of instruments isn't enough if you want to be successful, as I've found in my work arranging Chinese music for Western instruments.

In the early 1990s, I made one of the happiest discoveries of my life when I, a classically-trained Western musician, discovered Chinese music. Already experienced as a violinist in chamber ensembles and orchestras, I learned to play the erhu, the Chinese, two-string, snakeskin-covered equivalent of the violin. I started playing in Chinese traditional-instruments ensembles and learned a great deal about the Chinese-musical style. In Chinese music, there is less emphasis on complex harmonies and counterpoint, and more emphasis on different ways of playing a melody, even different ways of playing a single note. Slides, note bends, and ornaments are a huge part of the final product, and if you don't do it correctly, it doesn't sound like Chinese music.

When I decided to try arranging Chinese music for Western instruments, it was surprising how many combinations just didn't work. However, I was determined to find some Chinese pieces that would sound good arranged for Western string quartet. It's puzzling how few Chinese stringquartet arrangements are available in the United States, given the Asian heritage of so many string players in American high schools and universities, and the many Chinese-American events that call for string-quartet music. After dismissing most of the pieces that I had played in Chinese orchestras, I found only two that I felt would convincingly translate into Westernstring timbres. I arranged these pieces into the two-part arrangement now called Chinese Celebrations (see excerpt on pages 28 and 29).

SOUNDING IDIOMATIC

The problem is, even if the Western string player is staring right at the notes, how does he or she know how to play them correctly? These arrangements give the uninitiated player an edge, due to my knowledge of both Chinese music and what a Western-classical-string player needs to see on the page to know how the music should sound. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Half a World Away
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.