Honestly, Chinese classical music is not as good as western music. Its theoretical basis was too poor comparing to western music. A famous Chinese philosopher Feng, You-Lan said: Anybody who knows both eastern and western music would prefer western music; however, anybody who knows both eastern and western philosophy would prefer eastern philosophy. So, from this point of view, to know Chinese classical music is a very good way to understand Chinese philosophy, since Chinese music is influenced by the eastern philosophy and integrated into life style of Chinese culture.
Here I’d like to introduce the top 10 Chinese classical music. They have been passed through millenniums. Some of them have historical stories associated with them. I will cover these stories and update the links in the future. Please stay tuned. For your convenience, I also include videos from youtube.
There is a famous “friendship” story associated with this music (post later). <High Mountain & Running River> was originally one piece. Since Tang Dynasty, it was split into two separate pieces. Especially, the later one <Running River> has been developed more in recent centuries. With a more than 2000 years long history, its oldest opern preserved till now is one from 1425A.D., Ming Dynasty. <Running Water> performed by Guan, Pinghu was included on the NASA “Voyager Golden Record” and launched into outer space on Aug. 22nd, 1977. Hope it will find “friendship” for human beings.
This one also has a famous story about “dignity”. It’s also a more than 2000 years old music. It was a popular folk music in the Anhui area. It became very famous since the story happened. In the video is a “Guzheng” version. A “Guqin” version is here.
In this piece, the composer presented us a beautiful autumn natural scene like a ink-and-wash style painting. We see slowly flowing sands, white clouds, and gooses flying to the end of horizon. It tells us to enjoy the harmony between nature and humanity.
Plum blossom is a symbol of value to ancient Chinese elite. It represents purity, nobility, and dignity. This piece is best music work about plum blossom. It dated from Jin Dynasty, composed by General HuanYin. Tang Shigu (Tang Dynasty) made a Guqin version, which had become popular since then. The video here is a flute version. A “Guqin” version is here.
This is one of the most popular Pipa pieces. It describes a famous battle between Chu and Han at Gaixia in the end of Qin Dynasty. In that critical battle, Han army strategically used “ambush from all directions” and defeated Chu army completely. That failure forced the leader of Chu committed suicide at Wu River (A story is associated.) And Han Dynasty then established.
This piece excellently presents the audience a vivid picture of the fierce fighting in the ancient battlefield with the magic of music,
Do you like these music? Get any ideas about eastern aesthetics? Another five pieces will be posted as Part II later.
[Related Product on Amazon.com]
1. The Hugo Masters: An Anthology of Chinese Classical Music
2. Eleven Centuries of Traditional Music of China
3. The Legend of Guqin