The Four Dragons 四天龍

This composition is inspired by tales of dragons in ancient mythology. Dragons are symbols of supreme power and good fortune in many cultures. I am particularly fascinated about the relationship between dragons and humans told in ancient Chinese folklore, their ability in controlling over nature and people is an important part of Chinese culture over thousands of years.

This nine minutes composition unfolds the Four Dragons Tale of China. The four connecting short movements in this work suggests a “Once Upon A Time” story about four virtuous dragons saving the world from drought by scooping up sea water and sprayed rain from heaven. Their noble deed infuriated the Jade Emperor, and eventually banished themselves to form China’s four great rivers – the Hellongjian 黑龍江 (Black Dragon) in the North, the Huangbe 黃河 (Yellow River) in central China, the Changjiang 長江 (Yantze River) farther south, and the Zhujiang 珠江 (Pearl River) in the South.

The instrumentation is a mixed ensemble of dizi, western flute, female voice, percussion, classical guitar, daruan, gaohu, violin, and cello. This unconventional combination provides unusual instrumental colors and timbre. An exotic sound world evolved from an atmospheric ceremonial first movement, and heightened the energy in the forthcoming music journey with distinct rhythmic and melodic ideas. Combining intense drumming, strumming techniques, microtonal effects, and folk style vocalization, I hope to sparks the imaginary characters of the dragons and voices of human, and engage the audience in an ancient magical world.

This work is commissioned by Vancouver’s Sound of Dragon Society, through the generous support of the Canada Council for the Arts.