World Music Network Offers Audiences A Unique Music Trip To China In Its Latest Compilation Record

Courtesy: World Music Network

World Music Network has for years, taken listeners around the world, musically, time and time again, offering up music from so many nations.  From the roots of American music to the music of Europe’s various nations and those of Asia.  That ongoing worldwide musical trip continues Friday as the label takes audiences to China’s Yunnan province in The Rough Guide to The Music of Yunnan.  The 19-song record is yet another interesting addition to the company’s ongoing The Rough Guide To… compilation series that will appeal not only to ethnomusicologists but to anyone who has any interest in the music and cultures of the region (and of other nations in general).  That is due in no small part to its featured songs, which will be examined shortly. As much as the record’s primary content does to make it appealing, it is not perfect.  The lack of English translations for the songs with lyrical content detracts notably from the record’s presentation.  This will be discussed a little later. Even without those translations, the record’s companion booklet still adds to the listening experience through its featured liner notes.  This will also be addressed later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the recording.  All things considered they make the record yet another interesting addition to this year’s field of new World Music offerings.

The Rough Guide to The Music of Yunnan is yet another interesting addition to World Music Network’s ongoing The Rough Guide To… compilation series that will appeal to a wide range of audiences.  The record’s appeal comes in part through its featured musical arrangements.  From beginning to end, the songs featured in this song offer audiences touches of traditional music from China’s Yunnan province and some modern compositions.  Audiences get a dose of that traditional music right from the compilation’s outset in the form of ‘Bi Lang Dao Gu Diao.’  According to the liner notes, the song is an ancient traditional song that is played on what is known as a Dai gourd pipe.  A Dai gourd pipe is a type of flute that is in fact made in part with a gourd.  It is played like a flute, believe it or not.  The richness of the sound is so haunting, but in such a beautiful, immersive fashion.  The song is a fully instrumental composition that paints such a rich picture of the Yunnan province in listeners’ minds as they take in the tones of the flute.  One of the more unique of the record’s modern songs comes less than halfway through its run in the form of ‘Bulang Beauty.’  This song features a musical arrangement that pairs the traditional sounds of the Yunnan province with, of all things, reggae leanings.  Yes, it combines two genres that are clearly very distinct from one another, yet somehow this blending of East and West really makes the song work.  Sadly, there is no English translation of the song’s lyrical content in the record’s booklet, so audiences are left to assume just from the mood set in the composition and from the title what the song may be about.  One more notable traditional composition featured here comes a little more than halfway through its run in the simple ‘Four Seasons of the Lahu.’  The song is such a simple and beautiful work that features its performer, Shi Lei, singing the simple presentation completely by himself.  There is no instrumentation.  Lei’s breath control and his dynamic control as he sings gives the song so much emotional depth.  Even sans any English translations, the presentation is still so immersive.  When it is considered along with the other arrangements examined here and with the rest of the record’s featured works, the whole makes the record’s overall musical content fully appealing.

While the musical content that makes up this compilation’s body is fully immersive and appealing, the lack of any English translations for the record’s content detracts notably from the presentation.  Considering that this record is being marketed largely to English-speaking audiences as a way to introduce said listeners to music from Asia, having any English translations would have been a very nice way to enhance the listening experience.  That it is not part of the record’s presentation definitely hurts the presentation.  The damage is not enough to doom the recording, but it certainly does not help that it is lacking here.

Even though the lack of English translations for any of the songs with lyrics is a problem, the record’s liner notes still offer just enough to make the booklet its own positive.  The liner notes point out how the Yunnan province has remained a mystery not just for ethnomusicologists but for anthropologists and other social scientists because of its geography and because of the Chinese government.  In addition, the notes point out that many of the languages of the Yunnan province are not written down.  That might account for the lack of lyrical content in the booklet.  The notes even make mention of how the traditional sounds of the Yunnan province have been giving way to more modern sounds that themselves still pay homage to the traditional sounds of the region in their presentations.  It is another interesting part of the whole of the background provided in the liner notes that when considered with everything else in the introduction, makes the liner notes just as important to this record as the set’s musical content.  When the musical content and liner notes are considered together, they more than make this compilation another interesting addition to WMN’s ongoing The Rough Guide To… compilation series that will appeal to such a wide range of audiences.

The Rough Guide to The Music of Yunnan is a unique addition to World Music Network’s ongoing The Rough Guide To… compilation series that will appeal to a wide range of audiences.  That includes not only those with an interest in music from around the world, but even those who study the various social and historical sciences.  That is due in no small part to its featured musical content.  The musical arrangements featured in this compilation offer audiences a glimpse into the past, present, and future of the Yunnan province’s musical community with a variety of traditional and more modern compositions.  The liner notes that accompany that content develop quite the interesting background on the music that enhances the listening experience even more.  The two elements together give audiences reason enough to hear this record.  That is even considering the lack of any English translations for the songs anywhere in the record’s booklet.  Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the compilation’s presentation.  All things considered they make this presentation yet another positive addition to this year’s field of new World Music offerings.

The Rough Guide to The Music of Yunnan is scheduled for release Friday through World Music Network. More information on this and other titles from World Music Network is available online at:

Websitehttp://www.worldmusic.net

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