Listening to the erhu on a winter night

14 Jun

A warming vegetable and barley broth for dinner — lamb shanks at the Mountbatten Hotel after coaching last night — and a hot bath, then to the computer. On Classic FM they just played a Chinese piece, “Reflection of the Moon on Er Lake”. I have heard it many times before; anyone who has ever listened to Chinese music — and you really should — knows this sublime, haunting melody. It is also translated as “Moon Reflected on the Erquan Fountain”, as it is called in this program note.

The place is famous for the beautiful Fountain, and Hua Yanjun, an old, poor but talented folk musician, regularly played there. The listener was deeply moved by one of his sorrowful, beautiful melodies that depicts the scenery and the feeling it evokes. It also expresses a sense of beauty, peace and tranquility. The music is at times as quiet as still water in a lake and at other times as exciting as a gushing Fountain. It is as reflective as it is evocative and exhilarating. The listener is free to arrive at his [own] interpretation.

And the erhu is such a beautiful instrument. It goes back to the Tang Dynasty, a thousand years.

And speaking of Chinese, it is now fourteen years since M and I moved here to Surry Hills, sixteen since I met him soon. He is no longer here, of course, though well and truly around. I really owe him everything, you know. When I wrote the final version of that fiction story on the page tabbed at the head of this blog I was not yet fifty, and believed I would not live past fifty for very long. Perhaps I didn’t intend to. But here I still am, and my fiftieth birthday here in Surry Hills is a very happy memory.

Winter night thoughts.

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Posted by on June 14, 2006 in M, Personal, Surry Hills


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