Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)
This document will attempt to put Bright Sheng's "Seven Tunes Heard in China" in a context of solo works for the cello that follows a universal tradition of concert works based on folk music and dance style. In this case, these seven works emanate from seven diverse regions of China, and all represent a different style and character which Sheng has translated to a single work for solo cello. Based on preexisting models of folk song tradition, I am seeking parallels between the work of Mr. Sheng and the original traditions behind this composition. I will discuss the various regional influences and the methods in which Sheng exploits the cello to produce the sounds, character and general feeling of these different folk idioms. There are many performance practice issues in this demanding work, which I will address throughout the paper, occasionally offering suggestions for the facilitation of these ideas. Mr. Sheng is obviously using the cello to portray and imitate a range of Chinese indigenous instruments, and has created a codification of such sounds as they occur throughout the work. Although these seven movements are based on actual folk material, the bulk of the writing is Sheng's personal elaboration and representation of music in the style of the folk songs, and he writes freely around the various tunes even observing a prescribed form from the folk song genres. I will also present formal analysis of each individual song to help the performer delineate the various sections and various tempi and character relationships that are presented in this collection. In my communication with Mr. Bright Sheng, he related to me that he only has 3 recordings of this work and perhaps six other dissertations about this music in general. I felt compelled to study his work more deeply and learn more about his unique compositional style, integrating the eastern folk tradition with a western instrumental genre, specifically the solo cello, in this "Seven Tunes Heard in China."
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Kang, Chiao-Hsuan, "Understanding of Authentic Performance Practice in Bright Sheng's "Seven Tunes Heard in China" for Solo Cello" (2016). LSU Doctoral Dissertations. 1639.