Friday, 18 July 2008

San Liu (three six) 三六

Note: this post has a lot of dead links which have to be up-dated.

San Liu (san1 liu4, three six) is one of the "eight great pieces" (ba1 da4 qu3) from Jiangnan sizhu (江南丝竹 Jiāngnán sīzhú).

"Jiangnan Sizhu" is a type of traditional Chinese instrumental music from the Jiangnan region of China, commonly translated as "Jiangnan silk and bamboo music". The Jiangnan region is made up of southern Jiangsu province, Shanghai and northern Zhejiang province.

Jiangnan Sizhu is performed by a small ensemble of up to about nine or ten instruments, with the dizi, erhu, pipa and yangqin being the main instruments.

Here are several different recorded versions of San Liu:

Shanghai Traditional Ensemble (Shanghai Minzu Yuetuan):
Link, 5.6MB, 6min8sec, 128kbps

Shanghai Traditional Ensemble (Shanghai Minzu Yuetuan):
Link, 8.2MB
Another recording by the Shanghai Minzu Yuetuan. This one is from a 1981 LP.

Lu Chunling (dizi), Zhou Hui (yangqin), Zhou Hao (erhu), Ma Shenglong (pipa):
Link, 5.6MB, 6min10sec, 128kbps

Chen Yonglu (erhu), Lu Chunling (dizi), Lin Shicheng (pipa):
Link, 6.3MB, 6min57sec, 128kbps

A traditional ensemble:
Link, 6.7MB, 7min24sec, 128kbps

Two erhu, one in standard D,A tuning, the second in a lower tuning:
Link, 5.3MB, 5min48sec, 128kbp

The earliest published notation of San Liu is in a collection of pipa pieces of 1895 by Li Fangyuan. According to Witzleben, that version is structurally different to the the present day San Liu performed by Jiangnan sizhu musicians.

There is also a version of San Liu for solo pipa (3.3MB, 3min37sec, 128kbps) and the large modern Chinese orchestra (available on youtube). It sounds very different to the San Liu as played within the Jiangnan Sizhu tradition. Perhaps this version is derived from Li Fangyuan's 1895 pipa score collection.

Further reading:
Witzleben, J. Lawrence (1995). "Silk and Bamboo" Music in Shanghai: The Jiangnan Sizhu Instrumental Ensemble Tradition. Kent, Ohio: The Kent State University Press
The definitive work (in English) on Jiangnan Sizhu, essential reading for anyone interested in this music.

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