Bamboo Dreams by Yang Xiu-Lan and Ouyang Qian

I've enjoyed many of the recordings of Chinese classical music I've been able to hear.

This one is no exception, but is not at the top of the list either.

The basic concept was to center this collection around the theme of bamboo. The title is not meant just as a poetic image, but to really describe the contents.

All the tracks are related to bamboo, from "Heart Touching Sound of Bamboo" to "Bamboo Singing in the Moonlight."

Also, the wind instruments used are made of bamboo, and there are ten kinds used here: di, xiao, sheng, Chinese panpipes, guan-zi, ba-wu, kou-xian, lu-sheng, bamboo leaf and hu-lu -si. Some of these are traditionally Chinese and others come from other ethnic groups.

The two most common are the Chinese bamboo flutes, the di and xiao.

The di is very common and popular in Chinese music. It resembles a flute. It comes in two common varieties: the bang-di which is soothing and soft and the qu-di which has a strong, high-pitched sound.

The xiao (or dong-xiao) is usually made of purple bamboo, yellow withered bamboo or white bamboo. Its sound is soft and pitched low, and it's commonly used in concerts.

The sheng is very old, dating back to the early years of Chinese civilization. It's basically a collection of bamboo flutes of different lengths bound together.

Bamboo is closely related to music in Chinese. They use the phrase "si zhu" – silk and bamboo – to refer to music and musical instruments.

It'd be interesting to know when this music was produced. The small pamphlet included with the CD is little help. One of the producers is old enough to have graduated from college in 1962. Then he went to study music at Fujiang's College of Art – and there his bio stops. During the Cultural Revolution did he spend ten years on a pig farm learning from the peasants? Is this music officially sanctioned by the Chinese Communist Party as it was during Mao's lifetime? We're not told.

The other producer, however, is listed as having some credits connected to Buddhism, so that implies this is a post-Mao product (though the current regime is not friendly toward any religion).

The flaw in this collection is that all the tracks are aiming at producing a mood reflecting the peace and quiet of a bamboo grove. They are slow and sedate. Beautiful in themselves, taken by one by one, but after a while you start to crave some variety, some contrast.

This is a good CD to play when you just want to lie down and space out. It's not going to make you start dancing, but it's more compelling than the usual New Age stuff people buy.

Prepare to be soothed if not particularly entertained.



Source by Richard Stooker