Ba Yin (The Eight Sounds)

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Ba Yin (The Eight Sounds) (2001/2015) by Chen Yi (b. 1953)

I. Praying for Rain
II. Song of the Chu
III. Shifan Gong-and-drum

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Header photo by Matt Zugale

Commissioned by the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, the original version of Chen Yi’s “Ba Yin (The Eight Sounds)” was written for and premiered by the Rascher Saxophone Quartet and the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra on October 27, 2001 in Stuttgart, Germany. Chen Yi adapted the work for saxophone quartet and wind ensemble for the PRISM Quartet and the University of Missouri-Kansas City Wind Symphony under Steven D. Davis. This new version was premiered on October 4, 2015 at Helzberg Hall of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, Missouri.

Chen Yi writes, “In ancient China, music was called ‘The Eight Sounds’ (Ba Yin), as it was played with eight kinds of instruments made with metal, stone, silk, bamboo, gourd, clay, leather, and wood. In my concerto, Ba Yin, I use a saxophone quartet and a chamber wind ensemble to recall my impressions of music played by villagers on old traditional instruments in various ensembles in China.

“The first movement, ‘Praying for Rain,’ is inspired by music played in a ritual ceremony, featuring a wind instrument called the suona (similar to the European shawm, made with wood) and sheng (a free-reed mouth-organ, made with gourd). The music moves from slow to fast. The wind ensemble provides sheng-like sustained chords in the background while the quartet plays in a heterophonic style imitating tunes played by a group of suona players.

“The second movement, ‘Song of the Chu’ (the name of a state in the Zhou Dynasty, located in the middle of China) is influenced by a traditional Chinese solo piece with the same title, featuring the sound of xun (a wind instrument made from clay). The quartet and the wind ensemble imitate a group of xun with crying sounds to the harmony of metal bells and stone chimes.

“The title of the third movement, ‘Shifan Gong-and-drum,’ is taken from the name of the ensembles of ‘silk-and-bamboo with gong-and-drum’ in Southeast China. Shifan literally means ‘ten times’ and indicates multiple variations. ‘Silk-and-bamboo’ refers to stringed and wind instruments. While the saxophone quartet plays melodic material, the entire wind ensemble imitates a group of percussion instruments. The music reaches a climax at the end of the concerto.”

Funding Acknowledgement
This recording was made possible with generous support from the Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia.

PRISM Quartet
Timothy McAllister, soprano saxophone
Zachary Shemon, alto saxophone
Matthew Levy, tenor saxophone
Taimur Sullivan, baritone saxophone

Guest Artists:
Conservatory Wind Symphony, University of Missouri—Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance, conducted by Steven D. Davis

Record Label / Catalogue Number:
XAS 105

Release Date:
January 18, 2019