This is one of the releases in a series of releases of the Ancient China period of the Song Dynasty. The Southern Song Dynasty was the last stronghold against the Mongols, by which they were defeated by the Mongol run Yuan Dynasty in around 1279. This is a historical look at the music of the Song Dynasty which lasted over 200 years. Let’s have a listen and see how it sounds today.
Clouds Over The Xiao And Xiang Rivers (Xiao Xiang Shui Yun) begins with traditional Chinese string instrumentation, likely a Pipa instrument being played here. It is really quite beautiful to hear. It sounds like an eastern slide guitar instrument, being very musically wonderful and imaginative. It’s a great ode to an era of Chinese history long gone. A brilliant solo instrumental piece. It’s also the longest track here by far, going over eight minutes long. Great stuff to hear though. Majestic. It flows just beautifully.
Plums By The Ge River (Ge Xi Mei Ling) is a mixture of Chinese instruments and beautiful melodies here. It is a short and sweet instrumental piece from long ago. The wind instruments in particular take the fore here. It is a deep and captivating listen, telling musical stories of long ago. Great, once again.
Next is Shadows Of Apricot Blossoms (Xing Hua Tian Ying) is another simple piece of beautiful music. It is more a call-and-response instrumental, to begin with, having sounds that are a lot like guitar, some strings, and Chinese percussion. A female Chinese lady then begins singing, pouring heart and soul into this piece. A worth addition, and soothing listening.
Following is Jade Plum Blossoms (Yu Mei Ling) which starts with fluttering instrumental melodies and some gentle percussion to listen to. Surprisingly good and amazing that this music has lasted well over many centuries, it is a great piece to hear, even today. Beautiful and majestic.
Melancholy Over Lotus (Xi Hong Yi) begins with a tranquil melody and some gentle bell sounding percussion being played. More string sounding Pipa/Mandolin instruments then enters the scene, making this a deep and interesting listen. It is laidback and beautiful to hear. A great effort and an amazing musical historical piece.
Short Dring Music In Shang Mode (Zui Yin Shang Xiao Pin) comes next. It is a more straightforward Chinese music piece from this time period in Chinese history. It has a beautiful Chinese female singing piece to boot, along with male backing vocals. An excellent short piece of music to listen to of Chinese history. A great musical experience.
Next is Delicate Fragrance (An Xiang) which is a laidback and tranquil Chinese music piece. Shimmering melodies grab your attention, along with beautiful wind instruments being played here. A wonderful and mint listening experience. Great short music for those who enjoy the historical music of China. Very touching.
After that, we have Scattered Shadows (Shu Ying) which is a slower and more night oriented sounding musical piece. It is beautiful and very melodic, with a great sensibility of Chinese music and reminds one of happy times. Great melodicism and playing throughout. Brilliant, once again. A great listen.
Ritual Songs For Yue: Chu Tune On Emperor Shun (Yue Jiu Ge Di Shun Chu Diao) which starts with clock chimes, and sounds rather unusual for this brand of music. It is a refreshing and brilliant sounding string piece with more Chinese female singing. It borrows a lot from European classical music of the time but is superb regardless. Great stuff to listen to here regardless.
Jiao Shao (Jiao Zhao) is no doubt an instrumental musical story of Chinese legend. With beautiful Chinese instruments and chiming percussion, this sounds interesting and unique. Great and inspired listening, never a dull moment here. It is a very consistent and inspired listen. Refreshing stuff. Simply beautiful.
Next is Zhi Zhao (Zhi Zhao) which incorporates melody and timely Chinese percussion here. It is unique and beautiful listening, with a brilliant sense of suspense here. Great melodicism and musicality are in these songs, which is unforgettable. Near perfect for this sort of music. The sense of rhythm and melody, especially towards the end, is very well thought out.
Following is Song Of Yangzhou In Andante (Yang Zhou Man) which begins with gongs and loud percussion, before the main melodies kick in. It’s another great piece from this time period. More female Chinese singing is here, making this a gentle, refreshing experience. It’s very interesting listening. Great stuff. Very different.
Melancholy Over Farewell At The Pavilion (Chang Ting Yuan Man) begins with some Pipa melodies, with other instruments through into the mix for effect. It’s great and special listening to our ears. It doesn’t seem like much of a melancholy piece, but it is named that. Brilliant, once again.
Ritual Song For Yue – Yue Xiang Ce Shang Tune (Yue Jiu Ge: Yue Xiang Ce Shang Diao) is a different sounding piece with an unusual melodic sensibility about it. Female singing, once again, is here. It’s a moody adventure from the times of the Song Dynasty. Sounds like it could be in a movie. Simply brilliant.
Next is Light Yellow Willows (Dan Huang Liu) which starts with stringed instrument playing. It’s a great listening experience to our ears, with lush melodies and precise instrumentation on this part of the album. Beautiful and majestic, it’ll take your soul away to a different place. Brilliant.
After that, we come to Green Pavilion Chant (Cui Lou Ling) which begins with a very quiet percussion set of sounds, before going into another beautiful and interesting piece, with Chinese female singing once again. It’s a faraway listening adventure for those who crave this sort of thing. Beautiful, simple, melodic, and brilliant listening.
A Melancholy Tune (Qi Liang Fan) begins with wind instruments, before launching into a very soothing Chinese music piece. It’s not depressing like some western music is, it just sounds different and unique. Brilliant music from the Song Dynasty era. Great music is here.
Autumn Night Chant (Qiu Xiao Yin) comes next. It begins softly with wind instruments before other instruments enter the mix. It’s a gentle listening experience for those who enjoy such a thing in Chinese music. Some male singing then arrives to paint the musical picture. A beautiful and relaxing journey through Ancient China and the music and culture of China itself. Excellent.
Next is Ancient Lament (Gu Yuan) which begins with fluttering string instrument melodies, then adds other instrumentation into the mix. It’s a great mixture of precise melodic sensibility and culture, as is the rest of the album. Another great piece. It sounds very peaceful towards the end.
The last piece on the album is The Immortal Of Stone Lake (Shi Hu Xian) which is a nice village sounding tune for us to listen to. It has a different set of melodies and some great percussion as well. A nice and soothing listening experience, it ends the album very well.
Of course, the music here is not to everybody’s taste. But if you love Chinese history and culture, this is a great place to begin. The music here is memorable, magical, and above all else, enjoyable. A brilliant effort.