Catmint Writing

Culture & Politics

Category: London

On Cantonese Composers

Below is a Cantonese classic by the Cantonese composer Peixun Chen (No. 1 from Four Piano Pieces based on Cantonese Melodies, Op. 5) that’s also part of the London ABRSM Level 8 Piano Practical Exam (Toronto’s RCM Level 10 Piano Practical Exam) repertoire. I now realize that the Canadian RCM curricula is too rigid, restrictive, stifling, and narrow. It is completely out of touch with reality, unwilling to modernize and consider other styles. Medieval, Baroque, Classical, and Romantic are not the end all and be all of music and they are perpetually stuck in a living time warp. Music is music regardless of where it came from. Even rap is a form of music and deserves to be studied seriously like how they would at progressive music schools such as Berklee School of Music (the Boston Conservatory) that produced music legends such as Leehom Wang. Unfortunately, this is precisely why there is a lack of musical innovation in Canada.

I know this because every Canadian music student has to go through the RCM system unless the music teacher has trained with other conservatories and knows how to put his or her students through alternative examination systems such as the ABRSM system in London.

ABRSM sends out examiners to over 90 countries every year and has international recognition.

Europe and the US are still leagues ahead when it comes to formal musical training in the Western tradition.

Please see the link below for more information about Peixun Chen.

http://oxfordindex.oup.com/view/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.49311

Below is the original guzheng (Chinese zither) version of Autumn Moon Over The Calm Lake – a Cantonese classic by the Master of Cantonese music, Lu Wencheng. This piece has been arranged many times for different instruments and even for vocals. Isn’t it beautiful? I can almost feel as if I am really by a lake and looking at the bright and shimmery reflection of the bountiful autumn moon on the watery waves.

Lu Wencheng’s Autumn Moon Over The Calm Lake is a fine example of Southern guzheng. There’s also the Northern guzheng as there are two schools.

Below is a link to Lu Wencheng’s biography.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L%C3%BC_Wencheng

Peixun Chen transcribed Lu Wencheng’s Autumn Moon Over The Calm Lake for the piano.

Peixun Chen is very traditional Chinese. He had surpassed Lu the Master without being unfilial and disrespectful by paying homage to his masterpiece through the piano transcription.

 

Breaking the Rules: A Jazz Piano Standard

Below is amazing American classic that’s now part of London’s ABRSM (Associated Board of Royal Schools of Music) exam repertoire. Unlike Toronto’s RCM (Royal Conservatory of Music), there is less emphasis on strict music theory requirements to complete the practical exams for the upper levels and beyond. Fewer rules mean fewer restrictions on innovation beyond classicism as well as personal expression and interpretation.

This is the man who started it all – George Gershwin. This is the man who started the jazz movement in the United States that soon overtook the world by storm. The jazz movement was pivotal in the development of contemporary and popular (pop) music in the United States and the rest of the world.

Below is Leon Bates’ amazing arrangement of the piece.

And who can forget Gene Kelly in An American in Paris? Gershwin transcribed the song for the vocals and the orchestra.

Gershwin also inspired the beginnings of Shanghai Jazz in 1930s Republican China.

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