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After the Cultural Revolution, China has reopened the door to the world since the late 1970s. In the field of contemporary music, the new generation of Chinese composers has quickly absorbed the techniques and ideas of Western modern and postmodern musical waves. But all these composers are always facing the same question: how to incorporate these Western influences into Chinese culture and thus to express the Chinese identity?

Shanghai composer YE Guohui (1960- ) is one of the most active Chinese composers in the twenty-first century. His most works are closely related to traditional Chinese culture, yet the sound representation is fascinating and modern. In this paper, I focus on Ye’s recent work Drinking Wine by the Stream’s Choice for Soprano and Orchestra (2012). The composition title is derived from Qu Shui Liu Shang, a historical popular party game in ancient China. In the game, the literati sit along the winding stream, and the drinking cup would float from upstream. If the cup randomly stops in front of someone, that person should drink the liquor and improvise a poem. The composition is directly inspired from the Chinese painting Lanting Xiuxi Tu (Gathering at the Orchid Pavilion) and the Chinese calligraphy work Lantingji Xu (Preface to the Poem Collection from the Orchid Pavilion), both depicting this party game of the famous Orchid Pavilion Gathering in the year 353 CE. I am going to show how Ye uses his sound design to reconstruct the scene of this unique cultural tradition aurally.


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  • Date submitted

    19 July 2022

  • Additional information
    • 'Presenter Biography:

      Yu Ye is a Ph.D. candidate in musicology at the University of Texas at Austin. He got a M.A. in musicology from Shanghai Conservatory of Music (2011) with the thesis on Astor Piazzolla and Tango Nuevo. Currently he is working on the doctoral dissertation, dealing with the contemporary tango music in the U.S. and China. Besides this primary interest, his other research interests include contemporary music in China, music and media, the twentieth and twenty-first century music, and musical nationalism/transnationalism. Outside the academic research, he plays piano and bandoneón, and enjoys the experience in the Gamelan ensemble and the Hispanic Caribbean ensemble at the University of Texas at Austin.