Experiencing Chen Yi’s Music: Local and Cosmopolitan Reciprocities in Ning for Pipa, Violin and Cello (2002)

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Marianne Kielian-Gilbert


Chen Yi’s music, particularly her Ning for Pipa, Violin and Cello (2002), constructs reciprocities in compositional and aesthetic practice, and in the social-relational dynamics of musical contrast, performative and commemorative impulses. One aim of my paper is to suggest how Chen’s music offers multiple affiliations for music listeners, such that the local emerges in the cosmopolitan and vice versa. Events and textures emerge from, and become emblematic in emotional (affective) characters, in multiple orientations and receptions. Chen counterpoints and integrates the durational patterning suggestive of irregular Chinese “Ba Ban” tunes and more regular melodic models extending from popular song (e.g., the “Mo Li Hua” tune in Ning). Moving between, displacing and traversing—these emerging associations, narratives, encounters and migrations, entangle listening experiences of self and community, borderland and nation, and trauma and place.

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