Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Sound Travels: Dadawa

Sister Drum
(music samples can be heard here)

The melodies and spiritual nature of Sister Drum, inspired by Tibetan culture and created by ordinary musicians, destroys the old image of Chinese music as rigid and repetitious. Tibet has long been famous for its richly colourful people and lifestyles, as well as its isolation from the outside world. This, together with the religion and Buddhist philosophy of the people, is brought out in the music. Sounds resonate and roll, underpinned by a calm, steady beat.

The composer is HE Xuntian. By his technical skill and musical knowledge he takes thoughts and turns them into feelings. The singer is ZYU Zheqin, known as Dadawa. It is she who invokes the power of the Chinese word. The spirit of Tibet which they have together discovered has opened a window on that culture. But their music will give you the impression that these sounds are coming from your own heart.

(From the liner notes of Sister Drum)
I recently read Sky Burial (see book review here), which is the true story of a Chinese woman who left China in 1958 in order to search for her husband of 100 days who had supposedly been killed in Tibet while serving in the People's Liberation Army (China). This story beautifully captures the isolation and intense spirituality of the nomadic Tibetan people as well as the immense and harsh landscape in which these people live. As I read this book, I recalled the way in which hearing Sister Drum transported me to this same amazing landscape and expressed so well the spirit of the people of Tibet. Listening to this music with my eyes closed was itself a spiritual experience.

Where is music taking you today?

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