Theses Doctoral

Flowing Waters and the Flow of Time: Guan Pinghu's Interpretation of Flowing Waters

Wang, Lu

The search for alternative approaches to time outside of the Western concert music tradition has provided inspiration for many contemporary composers. This essay is a brief examination of temporal models taken from traditional Chinese guqin music. Focusing on the famous composition Flowing Waters, the study looks at aspects of temporality in the piece: the use of traditional notation (the jianzipu spectrum as well as brush-painting illustrations) with transcribed comparisons of individual interpretations, various finger-sliding techniques, the dual melodic and harmonic roles of single lines, and even the tuning system as a path toward revealing a new way of composed time, that which reflects the aesthetics of brush-stroke calligraphy, brush-painting, and ancient Chinese philosophical views on nature and the arts. Continual movement of textures, fluidity of materials, organic transitions, and gradual growth and decay of sound in space are the unique characteristics of this piece that become the main focus of the analysis.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Lerdahl, Alfred W.
D.M.A., Columbia University
Published Here
April 30, 2012