Many Central European composers such as Bartok and Janacek believe that the fundamental elements of their music come from the native folk music and the prosody of their native languages. And therefore when one understands the folk music and languages from these regions, one can understand and truly appreciate their works. Although this may be true, the music of these composers is nevertheless widely liked and admired by millions who don’t know their languages. In that respect, it is the very goal I wish to achieve in my writing, which stems from Asian culture.
The materials of this work are drawn from fragments of folk tunes I heard over twenty years ago when I was living in the northwestern part of China. What struck me then was that, unlike most Chinese folk music, the folk music of that region is not based on a pentatonic [five-note] scale. Instead, it has a seven-note scale similar to the Mixolydian church mode. I wondered what it would be like if one were to use this melodic pattern in a work for Western instruments and whether it would lose its Asian quality.