Difference and Similarity
MP3: The Great River Flows Eastward
a new CD by FMP
The Great River Flows Eastward was influenced by a poem of Su Shi (1037-1101):
"The waves of the mighty river flowing eastward have swept away the brilliant figures of a thousand ages."
In Lonely Island l use a violin bow with the guzheng, which originally is a plucked instrument. A lot of harmonics are produced using this technique.
The Eight Immortals are part of the Chinese popular daoism. They are displayed on a lot of porcelain, wood carvings or skrollpictures. They are human beings that have achieved eternal life. In the legends they are seen as travellers enjoying drinking and music. A series of guqin pieces is inspired by this folklore.
Only was influenced by "minimal music" which we never got to hear in China before.
Leather Shadows describes the shadow theatre of Shanxi Province (Northwest China) which uses puppets made out of leather.
Story of an Old Tree: I remember this poem by Ma Zhi Yuan (approx. 12th Century AD):
"withered old tree rattan / at dusk black crows rest on him / a small bridge can be seen in the distance of the plains / old people used to say: A horse facing the westwind will be very thin / the sun sets in the west / a man with a broken heart strolls through the vast and lonely plains." This song is performed in the style of the old ballad singing typical of northern China. However, it is my own composition.
In 1991 during the Shanghai Flood I had to push my bicycle through the flooded streets for 4 hours to get back home. I'll never forget it.
Waterpearls on green leaves was a spontaneous duet with the pouring rein. We opened the windows and l had the perfect accompaniment of raindrops.
Fight of the Crickets: Chinese children love to take crickets, give them some special herbs to smell, to make them aggressive. Then two crickets are put inside a pot to fight it out.
Concubines in the Inner Court: these women had to wait for their master to show up. They used to dwell in Beijing's Forbidden City.
I work with ingredients of "Jingju", Beijing Opera, but change the keys and rhythms and put them together in some kind of collage.
Shanghai Crowding: My home town has a population of more than 13 million and you will find large crowds everywhere. You have to push your way through the city. The instrument is "prepared" using various objects.
Five Elements refers to the five elements which have been a part of Chinese philosophy since Han dynasty (earth, wood, metal, fire and water). I substituted "air" for "wood". In the Chinese monasteries the monks sing sutras, using such syllables as A-Mi-Ti-Fo. They also use the "mu-yu" (wooden fish), a percussion Instrument l constantly beat with my left hand, while plucking counter-rhythms with my right hand. The murmuring of the syllables was inspired by those Buddhist ceremonies.
Geese Flying South was recorded during a concert in January 1998. I mixed it together with some weird drum Computer sounds: waves, mystical drums or bird songs... Sometimes the electronic sounds are in the background, sometimes my singing and plucking.
ChouJue: "Chou" means "ugly", but also is the name of a character in Beijing Opera. "Jue" means "role". This is a piece of Chinese Opera in wrong or unusual keys.
In Shanghai I always liked playing the drums. So I added two percussion pieces:
Beat the Drum to curse Cao refers to a story from historic China: Cao was an emperor in Han dynasty. A general wanted to criticise him, but he didn't dare to. So he played the drums at a banquet to express his criticism.
Dance of Phoenix and Dragon. The phoenix is the second part of my name (Xu Feng Xia). In China the two mythical beasts symbolise power and grace.
l would like to thank Peter Kowald, who helped me a lot to discover the "music of the world". He gave me a lot of Inspiration to develop a new style and to produce this CD. I would like to thank Mr. & Mrs. Diekmann, Rene Böll, Alfred Bisenius and Peter Kowald for their great support.
Xu Feng Xia, 1998