Morning Bell

Liner Notes

Autumn Moon over the Serene Lake
Cantonese music arr. by Weishan Liu
This piece is a very well known melody from the Guangdong region arranged by Lu Wencheng. The soothing melody depicts the beauty of a lake reflecting the brightest autumn moon. Through its interesting variations, the music seems to describe the gentle ripples formed in the serene lake.


Embroidering the Golden Banner
Shaanxi folk song arr. by Weishan Liu
The melody of this piece originated from the Shaanxi region and is also known as Embroidering the Golden Purse. The verses of this song traditionally relate to historical figures and folk tales. This version was arranged by Liu Weishan for a concert to commemorate the first anniversary of the death of Zhou Enlai.

Parade of the Champion Scholar Henan folk melody recorded by Ren Qingzhi
This piece, also known as Lambs on the Hillside, is recorded by Ren Qingzhi and adapted from a folk melody from the Henan region. It depicts the joyous celebration of the champion scholar following his success at the national examination. It utilizes a special thumb technique as well as a strong left hand vibrato. Through these techniques, the music expresses the pride and playfulness of the champion scholar parading down the streets in his carriage.

Polly’s Journey Weishan Liu
Ever since I recorded the sound track for the 1991 movie “Thousand Pieces of Gold”, I have been fascinated and deeply touched by the life story of Polly Bemis, a Chinese immigrant woman sold as a slave bride to America in the late 19 th Century. My later tours with George Winston in Inner Mongolia where Polly originally came from, and Montana close to where she lived for some 60 years, gave me the impetus to compose this piece in her memory. This was written in ternary form to reflect the different phases of her life, but the overriding theme is one of melancholy and resignation.

Emerging Lotus Hakka guzheng tune
In Chinese culture, the lotus flower is regarded as the gentleman among flowers because it preserves its purity and fragrance when emerging out of muddy waters. It also symbolizes the unbending spirit amidst adversities. This traditional Hakka tune utilizes a relaxed tempo, crisp tones, and occasional tremolos to depict the noble character of the lotus flower.

Little Birds Adoring the Phoenix Henan guzheng tune recorded by Cao Zheng
This is a Henan folk melody recorded by Master Cao Zheng. In performing this, special techniques are employed to stir up an image of little birds learning to fly and to imitate the chirping sounds.

Song of the Returning Fishermen Re-arr. from arr. by Cao Zheng & Zhu Yuzhi
The happy life of fishermen has been a popular topic amongst Chinese literature classics. I re-arranged this piece from the version arranged by Cao Zheng and Zhu Yuzhi in the 1950’s for guzheng and gaohu duet. It vividly paints the picture of returning fishing boats under the brilliant hues of an evening sky, and the cheerful contentedness of the fishermen.

Qin Rhapsody Zhou yanjia Improvised by Weishan Liu
This piece was adapted from a classic Shaaxi melody about a love-forlorn young girl. I put in my own interpretations and also inserted a large segment of improvisation to add a touch of sadness to the sentimental feelings in the original song.

Three Variations of the Plum Blossom Traditional
This is an old classic. It was originally composed for the flute by Huan Yi in the Jin Dynasty (280 – 300 AD) and adapted to the qin (ancient zither) during the Tang Dynasty (618 – 881 AD). Ancient scholars often used the symbolism of the plum blossom, orchid, bamboo, and chrysanthemum to describe desired characteristics in people. The plum blossom is not affected by severe winter weather and its striking beauty stands out in the bareness of winter. The plum blossom is frequently used to depict strength of character and perseverance in the midst of adversity. This piece is played in three separate arrangements and is thus named Three Variations of the Plum Blossom.

Busy Weaving Liu Tianyi
This piece was composed by Liu Tianyi for gu-zheng solo. The quick tempo and special finger techniques create a vivid picture of weaving.

Morning Bells Arr. by Weishan Liu
The phrase “Evening Drums Morning Bells” refers to the Buddhist temple’s daily ritual of ringing bells in the morning and striking drums in the evening to signify a day in the ascetic life of a monk. Over the years it has come to symbolize one’s effort in cultivating virtues and spiritual fulfillment. During my extensive travels in China, I would make a point of visiting every Buddhist temple that I came across. The worshipers’ devout demeanor and facial expressions have always had a profound impact on me emotionally, and gave me inspirations for this composition. Starting with some passages from the somber, peaceful “Thousand Chants” that I learned as a child from my teacher Master Cao Zheng, I mixed in my own emotional reactions to the imaginary scene and a great deal of free-form improvisations. This piece starts out with slow and steady chants (Adagio); the tempo then quickens to reflect the internal conflicts and struggles of the worshipers (Andante). After an abrupt stop to signify resolution, the music returns to the peaceful “Thousand Chants” at the opening.

Lullaby Dongbei folk song Arr. by Weishan Liu
This piece is adapted from a folk melody in the Shandong region. Its beautiful melody gives the audience a feeling of peace and relaxation.


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