Chinese Traditional Music
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Tan Ci San Liu (弹词三六)

1 rating: 5.0

   Tanci San Liu (弹词三六) is a Jiangnan folk-piece known as San Liu (Three Six). The melody is flowing and graceful, with a lively rhythm in a bright yet profound style. This is a very popular melody and is played very often during celebratory … see full wiki

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1 review about Tan Ci San Liu (弹词三六)

A great folk tune that's just as enjoyable to play as it is to listen to!

  • Sep 11, 2010
Tan Ci San Liu is a very popular traditional piece. And no wonder. It's lively and has a very catchy melody that's easily singable. It also lends itself easily to ears that aren't used to hearing this kind of music because of its tonality and recognizable rhythms.

Like all other variations of san liu, this one begins with a loud attack of tremolos from the entire ensemble (or solo instrument) always on the la of the key (usually in D Major) and then slides up a fifth to the re before softening down, progressing with a crescendo and accelerando into the main melody. This variation is a little different than the older variations because of its form (which is influenced by Western music tradition). It follows a compound ternary form of A-B-C-A with little sections within each. The other characteristic feature of this piece is the ending where there is a cesura (or grand pause in the Western music tradition) and then another crescendo and accelerando through to the ending (just like in the beginning) where there is a final ritard on mi.

The melody is meant to be simple, as is the form, but the true richness and beauty of Jiangnan Sizhu music comes from the expression and interpretation of the melody. It requires years of musical and cultural investment to understand the taste and style of this musical tradition and to perform it with true musicianship. I say musicianship and not professional skill because Jiangnan Sizhu has always been a tradition for amateur musicians, performing in tea houses and such, so it certainly is not a prerequisite for performing this music well to be a professionally trained musician (which there are plenty of at conservatories in China). 

This is personally one of my favorite pieces to perform on erhu in an ensemble because it's so fun, has its technical challenges, and is an overall great piece to play for someone who's just learning about Chinese traditional music! 

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Tan Ci San Liu (弹词三六)
Genre: World Music

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