Analysis of Ambushed from ten sidesAmbushed from Ten Sides a masterpiece of the Han nationality, and it is one of the best-known pieces of archaic Chinese music.Scholars do not know when the work was composed or the identity of the composer. However, in 1818, this piece?s music score appeared in Pipapu, which was edited by QiupingHua who was a professional pipa player during the Qing Dynasty.This piece has thirteen sections in total, and its music clearly shows the desperate scenario when a force surrounded Xiangyu, who was a famous hero in ancient period of China. The piece?s program concerns the war between Han and Chu about 202 BC, and the Han?s army used the method of battle that was called ?ambushed from ten sides? to defeat Chu?s army.For the melody of Ambushed from ten sides, it has many repeated notes. In the whole piece, we can see vast repeated notes to show the music. Especially, in the third and fifth sections (example 1), many repeated notes with the same rhythm create the scene of orderly troops. According to the video, the melody is not very complicated, but its effect is very powerful and loud by players? performing of the fingering. For example, there are many using ofLunzhi by the player.The player?s right hand?s fingers and the thumb take turns touching the strings with similar volume and uniform rhythm, and this kind of fingering brings powerful melody for the piece.The powerful melody is one of the main features of Wu style, which is one type of the solo musicfor the pipa. Also, we can seelarge intervals in this piece. For example, in the measures eight and nine of the sixth section, the note changes from the higher E to G to the higher D, then it backs from the higher D to G (example 2).Example 1,Ambushed from ten sides, sections 3 & 5 ? The examples are in standard Chinese pipa tablature, where pitches are notated with numbers and rhythms are indicated by lines beneath the numbers. In Example 1, for example, the numbers refer to the following pitches: 1=C, 2=D, 3=E, 4=F, 5=G, 6=A, 7=B. The thick line below the numbers on the top line indicates sixteenth notes in the stated the meter of 2/4.Example 2,Ambushed from ten sides, section 6, mm.8-9For the harmony of this piece, it is the second one of Chinese five tones, and it is calledShang. The Chinese five tones is a traditional mode of Chinese music, which has five pitches. They are: C, D, E, G and A. The Shang means that the tonic is D, and the style tends to begrand and strong.Ambushed from ten sideshas varied rhythm. For example, in the first section, the rhythm changes from slow to fast (example 3). And, in the whole piece, the rhythm changes obviously. The slowest rhythm of this piece appears in the fourth section, and it shows the scene of preparing to fight a battle because of the title of this section. The fastest rhythm of this piece appears in the twelfth section, and it shows the excited scene of the final victory of the war (example 4). The meter of this piece changes from free meter to 2/4 and 4/4, then it backs to free meter again. Overall, the whole piece has a very fast rhythm as the other main feature of the Wu style. There are many fast notes in this piece such as the third section (example 5). Some ornaments appear in the eighth section with the requirement of Lunzhi that is an important and typical playing technique of pipa, which I talked about before in the chapter of the playing technique of pipa (example 6).Example 3,Ambushed from ten sides, section 1(New scan here) !Example 4,Ambushed from ten sides, sections 4 & 12Example 5,Ambushed from ten sides, section 3Example 6,Ambushed from ten sides, section 8For the texture of Ambushed from ten sides, it varies from one part to four parts. For example, the second section has one part, and then it changes to two parts in the fourth section (example 7). At the ending of the eighth section, it changes to three parts. And, the fifth section has four parts (example 8). This piece is chordal. We can see many chords.Example 7,Ambushed from ten sides, sections 2 & 4Example 8,Ambushed from ten sides, section 5The form of Ambushed from ten sides is the Chinese traditional large divertimento, which has several different sections with their own topics and has some changes in these sections. This piece has thirteen sections, and they can be divided into three big periods. The first period as the slow part talks about the preparatory worksbefore the war, including Lieying, Chuida, Dianjiang, Paizheng and Zoudui. For example, Lieying means the soldiers? momentum and shoutloudly. Zoudui means the soldiers walk together in one line to show their powerful vigor. Both of them have the same slow rhythm that is a quarter note equal to 60 beats per minute. The second period as the faster part talks about the battle?s process, including Maifu, the little battle ofJiming Mountain and the big battle of Jiuli Mountain. The section of the little battle of Jiming Mountain and the big battle of Jiuli Mountain havethe faster rhythm, which is a quarter note equal to 92 or 136 beats per minute, to show the furiousbattles, and they are the most famous sections in this piece. The last period talks about the result of the battle, including Xiangyu?s losing, and Xiangyu?s suicide after losing the war. Moreover, there are three sections as the ending in the end part of this piece.Until today, Ambushed from ten sidesis still one of the most famous solo pieces of pipa, and it can be considered as the most famous piece of Wu style.
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