This week I’ve been playing with a song we learnt from a local Naxi musician. It’s about the cranes leaving the lake at the end of winter. We’ve learnt it the traditional way, with Jimmy playing it on repeat, while we stumble and try to keep up with the uneven phrases and unexpected melodic ideas. Naxi music has many ordamentations and pitch bends that are foreign to western art music trained ears. It’s often performed in unison, so my efforts at bass lines are often highly amusing, but appreciated as one method of keeping Naxi music alive and connected to the current generations of Naxi musicians. Maybe it takes a laowai to be shameless enough to put harmonies in, or to create a cover version that sounds like a lounge singer in a high class bar. (That version isn’t below, I’m still working on it!)
I don’t have a recording of the song in it’s original form for you right now, (You will be able to hear it after our TV debut next week, maybe!) but I’ve been messing around with it, making new harmonies and splitting the phrases up into their basic elements. These two are just sketches, I hope to keep working on them to polish them a bit. There’s a lot in there that I like. The original song is very sad, a mournful tune about the beauty of the crane leaving our waters.
I hope these versions retain some of that sense of sadness.
Any feedback would be greatly appreciated! There’s one thing bloggers and musicians share, it’s a love of comments! 😉
Today we went down to the local orchestra rehearsal, and Naima and her auntie Jacqui brought their instruments along to join in. So I went and got my banjo and then this happened. It was awesome. After playing a tune for him this old man, who speaks mostly Naxi, heavily accented Chinese and no English smiled and said: Oh! Appalachia! Small world.
Jacqui and I jamming with the locals. One chord tunes are pretty fun to jam to.