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Sonata in B-flat
Erhu and Piano, 10m30s
1 (xu):
2 (po):
3 (ji): (recording unavailble)

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Yuan-Yu Kuan, Erhu (二胡); Katelyn Sweeney Ching, Piano


This work continues my exploration of the possibilities of the pentatonic scale. Here, the Erhu generally has pentatonic material, while the piano accompanies it with my own style of quartal harmony which I have been developing over the years. In all three movements, the music shifts from one pentatonic scale to another; several times per phrase in the slow movement, less often in the middle movement and at only three key moments in the final movement.

The three movement xu-po-ji form is a traditional Chinese slow-medium-fast musical structure. To say that the sonata is "in B-flat" is a bit of a musical joke: each movement ends conclusively on a B-flat in the Erhu, but for most of the movement leading up to that point, the Erhu is exploring a variety of pentatonic keys, while the piano is fully chromatic throughout.

Yuan-Yu Kuan is an award winning Erhu performer from Taiwan, and an Ethnomusicology graduate student at the University of Hawai'i. Katelyn Ching is a pianist and a composition graduate student.


Erhu (Chinese bowed string instrument)