Notes and References


1. Chen Yi is considered one of the most important Chinese-born American composers, whose works have been performed worldwide. Her numerous honors include the prestigious 2001 Charles Ives Living Prize. In China in the 1980s, Chen Yi was among the notable composers of the New-Wave Music. The New-Wave was a trend in composition which showed an interest in applying contemporary Western techniques to compose Chinese music. The central components of the New Wave were young composers, including Chen Yi, who graduated from the Central Conservatory of Music, Beijing. After Chen earned her Master’s degree in composition, she came to New York and studied composition with Chou Wen-chung and Mario Davidovsky at Columbia University from 1986 to 1993. See Wang An-guo, “Hui gu yu si gao: wo guo yin yue chuang zuo xin chao zong guan” (“A Scan of the New Wave’s Emerging from the Musical Compositions in China”) Musicology in China 1 (1986): 11. Joanna C Lee, “Chen Yi,” in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd ed. Vol 5 (New York: Macmillan Publishers, 2001), 567. Chen Yi, <>.

2. Tan Dun (b. Si Mao, 1957), Chinese-born composer whose most influential works are operas (Marco Polo, Peony Pavilion), movie music (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Hero), and orchestral works (Orchestral Theatre Series, The Gate). He graduated from the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing and holds a DMA from Columbia University in New York. To create programs that reach a wide and diverse audience and cross the boundaries of classical, multimedia, East and West, he integrates the elements of Daoism, Shamanistic tradition, his childhood impressions of Western avant-garde techniques, natural sounds (water and paper sounds) cobined with Chinese and Western instruments, and multimedia presentations (Concerto Multimedia). His honors include the Grawemeyer Award for classical composition, Grammy Award, and Musical America’s “Composer of the Year.” His works have been performed by world leading orchestras. 2004.

3. To differentiate the folk tune and Chen Yi’s Ba Ban, I will underline the name when it refers to the folk tune and italicize the name of Chen’s piece.

4. Li Songwen, “Piano Solo Baban by Chen Yi: An Analysis,” Journal of Music in China 3/2 (October 2001): 259.

5. See Yaxiong Du, “The Principle of the Yijing and the Techniques of Melodic Development Commonly Used in Traditional Chinese Music,” ACMR Reports 13 (2000): 1-20.

6. See Chen Yi, Piano Concerto, 15.

7. Du Yaxiong, “The Beauty of the Baban Form: A Study in Aesthetics,” English trans., Sun Hai, Journal of Music in China 1 (October 1999): 95-100.

8. Chen Yi, Piano Concerto (Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, 1993; UMI 93033741), 7.

9. Ibid., 14-15.

10. Du, "The Beauty," 1.

11. See Hellmut Wilhelm, Change: Eight Lectures on the I-Ching, translated from German by Cary F. Baynes (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1960), 4, 32.

12. Chou Wen-chung, Chinese-American composer, scholar and teacher, is a seminal figure in contemporary American music. His lectures, writings, and research on the Yijing and Daoism have influenced a group of Chinese-American composers. His works explore new sounds by blending Chinese aesthetics and sources with contemporary techniques. See Joanna C. Lee, “Chou Wen-chung,” The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd ed., Stanley Sadie ed, vol. 5, . (New York: Macmillan Publishers, 2001), 789-90.

13. In his program notes for Metaphors for wind ensemble, Chou writes that his concept is influenced by I-ching (Yijing). He divides an octave into three equal segments; each features a conjunction of two major seconds, symbolizing the divided yinlines in the hexagrams, and a minor second plus a major third, symbolizing the undivided yang lines. The interplay of the images signifies the changing cosmos¾changing is unchangeable. See Peter M. Chang, Chou Wen-chung and His Music: A Musical and Biographical Profile of Cultural Synthesis ( Ph.D. diss., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1995; UMI 96-24,307), 179.

14. Mario Davidovsky (b. Buenos Aires, 1934) composer and teacher at Columbia University. He is best known for his combination of electronic and traditional instrumental sounds. His Synchronism 6 (piano and tape) won the Pulitzer Prize in 1971. See Davidovsky, Mario in The Harvard Biographical Dictionary of Music ed. Don Michael Randel (Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London, 1996), 199.

15. Her dissertation consists of a written part (an introduction, five chapters, a conclusion) and the Piano Concerto score.

16. Zhou Long, (b. Beijing, 1953, Chen Yi’s husband) Chinese-born American composer of mostly orchestral and chamber works. He merges tonal melodies with twelve-tone techniques to imitate sounds of Chinese instruments and to transmit Buddhist thought into music expression. His Ding for clarinet, percussion, and double bass won the First Prize of the 1990 International Ensemble Composition Competition in Mönchengladbach, Germany. His Two Poems from Tang for Orchestra won 1998 Masterpiece International Composition competition. Zhou has received many honors and commissions. 2004.

17. Ibid., 18.

18. See Smith Richard J., China’s Cultural Heritage: the Qing Dynasty 1644-1912 (Boulder/ San Francisco/ Oxford: Westview Press, 1994), 122. (source from Zhu Xi (1130-1200), Zhouyi Benyi (The Basic Meaning of the Zhou Yi), Taibei reprint, 1979).

19. Sun Zhengsheng, Yijing Ru Men (Introduction to Yijing), (Beijing: wen hua yi shu chu ban she, Cultura and Arts Press, 1988), 528.

20. Chou Wen-chung, “Toward a Re-Merge in Music,” in Contemporary Composers on Contemporary Music, eds. Elliot Schwarts and Barney Childs (New York: Da Capo, 1967), 312.

21. Guo Qingye, “Her Music blends East, West,” China Daily, 6 June, 1986, p. 5.

22. Peter Chang, remarks in his dissertation written at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, “Chou turns to the suggestive approach of using Chinese melodies to trigger the listener’s imagination.” Peter Chang, Chou Wen-chung and His Music: A Musical and Biographical Profile of Cultural Synthesis (Ph.D. diss., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1995; UMI96-24,307), 212.

23. Chen Yi, Piano Concerto, 14-15.

24. Li Songwen, 260.

25. “Art of the States: the composer,” <>.

26. Chou Wen-chung, The Willows Are New for Piano Solo (New York: London, Frankfurt: C.F. Peters, 1960).

27. The examples of Ba Ban are used by permission of the composer. Chen Yi, Ba Ban for Piano Solo in The Carnegie Hall Millennium Piano Book (New York: Boosey & Hawkes, 2000).

28. Chen Yi calls the third theme the “Chen Yi Theme” in her dissertation. In my analysis, I call the “Chen Yi Theme” theme II because it appears before the 12-tone theme.

29. The calligraphy of Chinese characters conveys energy, motions, and feelings in linear texture.

30. Nicholas Slonimsky, “Chou Wen-chung,” American Composers Alliance Bulletin 9/4 (Jun 1961): 4

31. Holly Selby, “Her Music is What She Is,” Arts & Society, 26 April 1998, p.3.

32. Ibid.

33. Chou Wen-chung, Pien for Piano, Winds, and Percussion (New York: C.F. Peters, 1967).

34. “Yue Ji” (Record of Music) in Li Ji, chap. 19, compiled by Tai Sheng (first Century B.C.) Trans. James Legge, The Sacred Books of the East (Oxford, 1885); cited in Chou, 216.

35. Zheng, a Chinese zither with thirteen to twenty-one strings above the sound board. Pipa, a four- string plucked lute in a pear shape with frets.

36. Chen Yi, email to Xiaole Li, 22 August 2001.

37. Ibid.

38. Béla Bartók, Mikrokosmos for Piano, New Definitive Edition, vol.4 (Budapest: Edition Musica, 1987).

39. Igor Stravinsky, Concerto en Ré pour Violon et Orchestre (Mainz: B. Schott’s Söhne, 1931).

40. Chen Yi, Piano Concerto, 47.

41. Chen Yi, notes for “Chen Yi Ba Ban” in The Carnegie Hall Millennium Piano Book (New York: Boosey & Hawkes, 2000).

42. Chen Yi, Notes for Sparkle, As in a Dream, Qi, Duo Ye, Shuo, Song in Winter, Near Distance, Compact Disc 804, CRI eXchange, 1999.

43. Li Songwen, 261.

44. Chen Yi, notes for “Chen Yi Ba Ban.”