Three Little Beauties!

Three Little Beauties!

Look at this wonderful photo of three girls playing traditional music in a restaurant in Shanghai:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Chinesemusicians.jpg

Yes, it was the ‘instruments’ I was referring to in the thread title!

Now, wouldn’t it be fascinating to hear Irish Airs, Planxtys, Slip Jigs etc played on these fascinating instruments?

How long will it be, I wonder, before we see these used in Irish Music sessions?

Or has anyone here actually seen any of these used for ITM already?

Personally I’m looking forward to seeing them here, but some luddites may care to disagree, wishing, perhaps, that the Guitar, Bouzouki, Mandolin, Banjo, Accordions & Concertinas etc had all stayed away from ITM altogether?

Care to comment?

Re: Three Little Beauties!

Yep, we had an erhu (the bowed instrument in your photo) at a session once. One of our fiddlers frequently travels to China and brought home an erhu, along with some fresh tunes. I don’t know that she’s ever tried a jig or reel on it though.

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Re: Three Little Beauties!

Fascinating Will. I guess it might be more suited to slower stuff than ye olde rigs & jeels though.

Must admit I did get a tape of Chinese music one time, years ago, but found the tunes very hard to ‘get into’, although that is probably down to me just needing to listen to this kind of music more.

Must say the instruments look wonderful too, don’t they - a bit more awe-inspiring shall we say, than a shakey egg & a par of spoons!

Re: Three Little Beauties!

There’s a suburb in Melbourne here called Box Hill, its a strong Chinese ethnic area. Outside the Box Hill shopping centre is a guy who plays all these instruments, busks playing trad. Chiniese music on trad. Chinese intruments, it’s fantastic. I’ve never seen him with the big dulcimer-type thing but he plays both those others .

Re: Three Little Beauties!

Wow - that certainly beats most guitar buskers & their 3 chord trick on the ‘Streets of London’. Sounds great kjay.

Would you be tempted to learn any of the tunes?

Re: Three Little Beauties!

For anyone interested, here is a page on the various Chinese Instruments:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traditional_Chinese_musical_instruments

While there, check out the Stone, Metal, Clay & Hide sections - just imagine a bunch of those guys crashing your session?

By the way kjay, I think that Dulcimer type instrument is called a Guqin ( ? ) & if so, you can hear a couple of snipets here:

http://www.chineseculture.net/wangfei/lxt/cd.html

N.B. Listening to the Drunken Man, can anyone else hear the spirit of ‘Robert Johnson’?

Re: Three Little Beauties!

If the astonishing oriental instruments were judged not acceptable in sessions, I’d just like to say that three such pretty girls would be welcome at ours, even if they didn’t play anything.

You can call me sexist if you like.

(you can call me anything you want - I certainly won’t be listening to you if there’s some gorgeous totty at the session)

Re: Three Little Beauties!

There are fast pieces for the Er hu as well the instrument is popularly associated with sorrowful tunes. The big zither is a Gu Zheng while the upright lute is called the Pipa. I used to play the pipa myself but stopped after a couple of years. Its an instrument that requires quite a lot of commitment and practice to do justice to - possibly one of the most difficult Chinese trad. Very versatile instrument though, apart from its usual delicate plucked sound it can produce lots of interesting percussive effects, from the sounds of cymbals to rolling snare drums. I have never tried playing Irish music on it before and I think it might sound a bit odd. Cathal McConnell is known to perform on a Chinese bamboo flute (dizi) for a novelty piece from time to time though.

Here’s some pics of the local Chinese Orchestra’s tour performing in Newcastle, London and Budapest.

Re: Three Little Beauties!

In Japan, we have 3-srtinged banjo called san-shin. I can’t find a good informative website, but it sounds like this: http://www.okinawa-sanshin.net I heard Dow has got one.

I heard simple system flute was invented in China, but is it true?

Re: Three Little Beauties!

Re: your flute question slainte. You might like to check these out:

Paul Neeley, in EthnoDoxology Vol.1, No.4

Concerning history, the author concludes that the transverse flute probably originated in India and came to Byzantium around the 10th century. Then around two hundred years later during the medieval period, it was introduced into Europe.

More at: http://www.flutehistory.com/TheBook/reviews/



Flute History:
The instrument’s earliest probable history dates back to approximately 900 B.C. This instrument, which was found in China, is called a ch’ie.

More at: http://www.gemeinhardt.com/story/flute.html


Or check out this site if you want to go further back:
NEANDERTHAL FLUTE

— Two New Books on Music Origins & Music Archaeology
— Chinese playable flutes found —9,ooo yrs old!!
— Evidence that flute was made by Neanderthals

More at: http://www.greenwych.ca/fl-compl.htm

Re: Three Little Beauties!

One thing no one’s mentioned so far is that there is a lot of similarity between ITM and Chinese music - melody instruments playing in unison, use of the pentatonic scale. Check out the Chieftains’ ‘Live in China’ CD to hear how the two traditions blend.

Re: Three Little Beauties!

Sorry, forgot to mention there is also a little sound bite which goes along with each instrument too - well worth checking out.

Re: Three Little Beauties!

From the Cover of "Chieftains in China"
https://thesession.org/recordings/1876

….Chinese and Irish music have many similarities. Both are very descriptive, the harmonics match ..and the instruments perform similar functions within the groups.
Paddy Malone believes that Irish music has a much more intimate relationship with Indian music rather than Western folk terms. He believes that somewhere along th elines what has become identifiable as Chinese traditional music crossed with the early fundation of Irish music, as once moved east, the other moved west.

I’ve hear in China some kind of sean-nos songs, too at a sunday afternoon session in a park downtown in Wuxi …
Maybe the most interesting session I^ve ever listened to!

Re: Three Little Beauties!

A couple of interesting things about Chinese music:

The notation is much like abc format, only it uses numbers instead of letters. (nice, coz you can play it in any key)

The pipa is a beautiful sounding instrument. It has a unique sound which must be heard to be appreciated. The best comparison I can come up with is a mixture of banjo, mandolin, lute, and nylon string guitar - but that does not do it justice. It is plucked with the OUTSIDE of the fingernails, with the plucking motion going OUT, away from the hand, as compared to our lute / guitar / banjo tradition of plucking by moving the fingers towards the hand. The strings are spaced further apart than a classical guitar, and the tuning (low to high) is ADEA.

I learned this back in ‘79 or ‘80 when I met a young man from Taiwan who had been a conductor for an orchestra of native Chinese instruments. He played all 3 of the instruments pictured, as well as the Chinese flute. Like many accomplished musicians who also like to eat occasionally, he was working on a masters degree in……….computers. He was organizing a show featuring various Chinese talents (chorus, orchestra, dance, gymnastics etc), and I was honored that he asked me to accompany him (guitar) on 2 tunes. On one he played flute, on the other he played pipa. The show (2 years in a row) is a memory I will always treasure. Even more so, I treasure the memory of him scribbling out the music in Chinese format for the tunes - faster than a fast typist.