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From Transcription to Transformation: Exploring the Creative Use of Chinese Folk Song in Gao Ping's "Distant Voices"

Lei Bi, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Gao Ping is a living Chinese composer born in Chengdu in 1970. While growing up in a musical family and studying as a piano performance major at the music middle school attached to Sichuan Conservatory of Music, he was influenced by China’s concurrent transformation from a collective to a market economy. The transitional cultural clash between East and West left traces later in his music. Therefore, his musical style conveys the mixture of Western tradition and Chinese heritage. Distant Voices was a piano work written in 1999 during his composition studies at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. This is the only one of his compositions in which three authentic Chinese folk songs play a part in the motif. In this research, the work is examined movement by movement; the stylistic analysis focuses on the use of formal, thematic, and rhythmic structure in each movement. In the three movements, Gao Ping develops various compositional possibilities through these folk melodies and captures traditional folk singing on the piano. His creative use of these source melodies recasts the rich, microtonal palette of traditional Chinese folk music by exploring the diverse sonority of the piano without distorting the fundamental qualities of the folk songs.

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Recommended Citation

Bi, Lei, "From Transcription to Transformation: Exploring the Creative Use of Chinese Folk Song in Gao Ping's "Distant Voices"" (2017). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI10270984.