Yang Ying | Elixir: Music for Moving & Still Meditation

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Elixir: Music for Moving & Still Meditation

by Yang Ying

Contemporary Chinese music with hauntingly beautiful erhu melodies composed and performed by a master musician and longtime practitioner of meditation.
Genre: New Age: Meditation
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Lunhui
5:18 $0.99
2. Wandering
4:07 $0.99
3. Heaven, Human, Earth
5:29 $0.99
4. Purification
7:33 $0.99
5. Circulation
14:41 $0.99
6. Morning Immersion
6:05 $0.99
7. Aspiring Emptiness
5:22 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Elixir - Music for Moving and Still Meditation

Initially created for use in a Taiji intervention study at the University of Illinois, Elixir is a music CD for moving and still meditation practices. This CD is unique in that it was composed and performed in entirety by both a master traditional Chinese musician and longtime practitioner of qigong meditation.

According to traditional Chinese medical theory, music has healing properties. Indeed, the Chinese character for music is the major part of the ancient Chinese character for medicine. Also, the Chinese character for happiness and music is one and the same!

Composed around "the five notes" (i.e., the pentatonic scale) and making use of both traditional Chinese instruments and modern synthesizers, Elixir is a contemporary Chinese recording with beautiful melodies that may used as an accompaniment to your moving or still meditation practice or simply enjoyed for the beauty of the music. Some tunes were designed to help lead the practitioner to a state of quietude and peacefulness, while others are simply joyous musical expressions of the ineffable experiences and sensations of moving and still meditation.

Composer's Notes for Elixir: Music for Moving and Still Meditation

The title of the first song, Lunhui, means "circle." The piece begins with gong and chimes (common percussions in ancient Chinese music), and Beijing opera style percussion. The melody is played with the sounds of zheng (an ancient type of zither), dizi (flute), and erhu. This piece is a nice accompaniment to moving meditation, such as the Taiji form.

The second song, Wandering, is inspired by Daoist philosophy. It combines musical styles from Shandong and Henan provinces, the native place of Laozi. Two differently tuned erhus and the zheng play the melody, and traditional monastic wood blocks are used for percussion. This is an entirely improvised composition.

The third through fifth pieces are a serial work, all musical expressions of various sensations and experiences encountered in meditation. The third piece is a musical representation of the ethereal experience at the beginning of standing meditation, when the head is touching heaven and the feet are connected to earth, and the inner feeling when the three things (heaven, human body, and earth) merge to oneness. The fourth piece, Purification, is similarly a musical expression of experiences in sitting meditation. The fifth piece, Circulation, expresses one type of feeling that may flow from the quiescence of meditation, the physical feeling that the heart is warm and blood and energy is flowing, and an accompanying emotion of love and beauty. This song begins with a western classical style motif, and flows into an improvised melody that is a combination of jazz, blues, and traditional Chinese music.

The Chinese believe that all of nature is a source of vital energy, or qi, and the beauty of nature has always been a source of inspiration in Chinese music. The portrait in Morning Immersion is one of the rapture of breathing in pure air in the early morning in a pristine forest, with the birds beginning to sing and the calming sounds of a mountain stream in the background.

The final composition, Aspiring Emptiness, includes an electronic combination of two types of zithers - the zheng and qin - and improvised ehru melodies. The qin is an ancient instrument that was a favorite of Chinese literati.

About the Composer - Ms. Yang Ying

A student of her father, Ms. Yang Ying began the study of the erhu at the age of five. By thirteen, she was performing solo concerts at the theater in her hometown, and by nineteen she had graduated from the Opera University of Henan, China and had begun performing for the Chinese National Song and Dance Ensemble (Zhong Yang Ge Wu Tuan) in Beijing. At the age of twenty-five, Yang Ying won first place in a national erhu competition, clearly distinguishing herself as one of the foremost erhu players in China.

The Chinese National Song & Dance Ensemble is the premier traditional musical and dance troupe in China, and from 1978-1996 Ms. Yang Ying was the featured solo instrumentalist. As the featured soloist, Yang Ying routinely traveled throughout Asia performing for Heads of State (including three American Presidents: Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter). During her tenure, she also frequently recorded for the film and record industry in China. In 1996, Ms. Yang Ying's accomplishments were recognized by her inclusion in the Chinese government's publication of Famous Persons of China.

Ms. Yang Ying is also interested in a fusion of Western and Eastern music. She was the founder, bass player, and singer for Cobra, the first all female rock band in China. Cobra had achieved international recognition, and was one of seven bands to play at the largest rock concert ever held in China. She is currently recording a CD that is a fusion of the diverse styles of traditional Chinese music with Western jazz, blues, and funk influences.



to write a review

Michael Diamond (www.michaeldiamondmusic.com)

Review excerpt from Music and Media Focus
The idea of music as medicine is relatively new in Western culture, although gaining in popularity, particularly in the new age music genre. For the Chinese, however, the healing properties of music have been known for thousands of years. This time-honored awareness is the force behind a new album by Ms. Yang Ying, a master traditional (and contemporary) Chinese musician, as well as a longtime practitioner of qigong meditation. The album opens with a dramatic flourish of gong, chimes, and Beijing Opera-style percussion. On the first track an ancient type of zither, called a zheng, as well as a traditional flute – dizi, and the erhu create the melody, along with gentle percussion providing movement. Although the music is exotic, and has its roots in a less familiar culture, as it evolved past the intro, I became entrained in its peaceful flow and felt uplifted by it. Balancing the more yang energy of this piece, is the meditative yin quality of the second track, “Wandering.” Although the erhu, which is sometimes referred to as a “Chinese violin,” has only two strings, it is a remarkably expressive instrument that is capable of hauntingly beautiful tones, including sounds with a distinctive vocal quality. The erhu has an evocative air that can reach in and touch the soul.

Track 3 is absolutely gorgeous, and with its sounds of birdsongs and flowing water, bears a closer resemblance to classic new age music - in particular, the crystalline electric piano sound often associated with Steven Halpern. On Track 4, “Purification,” I found the resonant bell tones reverberating over the sound of surf and seagulls in the background quite appealing and profoundly relaxing. While some of the songs on Elixir are designed for moving exercises and others meant to accompany the stillness of sitting or standing meditation, it is all quite peaceful. I thoroughly enjoyed the exotic world Elixir draws you into that’s both ethereal and earthy - yin and yang. I’ll enjoy listening to this over time to experience its musical medicine

To read a full length feature article on this CD, as well as others, please visit: www.michaeldiamondmusic.com

Kathy Parsons

From MainlyPiano
"Elixir: Music for Moving and Still Meditation" is the first American release by master Chinese composer/musician Yang Ying, a woman whose life story is as amazing as her music. The album itself was born out of a request for music to be used in a University of Illinois research intervention on the benefits of tai chi and qigong for older adults. A longtime practitioner of qigong, Yang Ying did not intend to make a commercial CD, but so many of the intervention participants asked for the music that she decided to release it. Most of the music on Elixir is improvised based on traditional Chinese music and performed on traditional instruments such as erhu, a two-stringed bowed instrument sometimes referred to as the Chinese violin; there are also flutes, nature sounds, zither, and Chinese percussion.

To backtrack a bit, Ying grew up during the Cultural Revolution when her family was persecuted for their political alliances. To avoid being sent to the countryside for political “re-education,” Ying’s father convinced her to give up her dream of becoming a medical doctor and sent her to music college in Zhengzhou. (It is an interesting aside that the Chinese characters for music and medicine are very similar and that the characters for music and happiness are the same!) A distinguished soloist in college, Ying was accepted by the Central Song and Dance Ensemble in Beijing, the premier cultural troupe in China. She was the featured solo instrumentalist from 1978-1996 and routinely traveled throughout Asia performing for heads of state, including three US presidents. In the late 1980’s, Ying founded Cobra, the first all-female rock band in China at a time when rock music was still largely unknown and “discouraged” by those in power. In 1996, she was included in the Chinese government’s publication of Famous Persons of China. The same year, she moved to the US to create music that combines the precision of classical music, the creativity of jazz, and the passion of rock with the soul of traditional Chinese music.

The seven tracks begin with “Lunhui,” which means “circle.” Gongs, chimes, zither, flute, and erhu create a lovely accompaniment to moving meditation. “Wandering” is completely improvised with two erhus, zither, and wood blocks - distinctively Chinese and very relaxed. The next three tracks are musical expressions of sensations and experiences encountered in meditation: “Heaven, Human, Earth,” “Purification,” and “Circulation.” These three pieces combine nature sounds such as birds and flowing water with music that is serene, magical, and very uplifting. Western musical styles intermix with traditional Chinese styles to create a very beautiful and universal musical experience. “Morning Immersion” conveys the feeling of breathing in the pure air of a forest in the early morning - so peaceful! “Aspiring Emptiness” combines two types of electronic zithers and improvised ehru melodies to bring this incredible collection to a tranquil close.

Designed for use with tai chi and qigong, the music on "Elixir" also offers soothing music for relaxation, mood music, or gentle easy listening. Give it a try for a very different listening experience! I’m looking forward to learning more about this amazing artist!

Alethea Austin Taylor

Gentle and powerful music of universal appeal.
The music of Yang Ying’s Elixir reveals the artist’s soul and spirit and embraces the listener with the harmonies and essence of the universe. From the rushes of ocean waves, to the resonating delicate tones, the previously unheard melodies touch life in familiar and often forgotten places. The gentle, powerful music of Yang Ying is truly an elixir for the heart, soul and spirit. Thus it has universal appeal. What a gift she has and has given!

Alethea Austin Taylor
Urbana, IL
April 2004

Raj Manoharan (www.rajmanreviews.blogspot.com)

The RajMan Review
East meets West in this entrancing fusion of Chinese and American music.

Yang Ying – who was the featured soloist with the Central Song and Dance Ensemble, China's premier traditional musical and dance troupe, for 18 years and also founded, played bass, and sang lead vocals for Cobra, the first all-female rock band in China – composed the tunes, which feature her primary instrument of erhu, a two-stringed bowed spike fiddle or southern fiddle also known as the Chinese fiddle or a Chinese two-stringed fiddle, in combination with synthesizers.

The result is a dreamy concoction of ethnic sounds juxtaposed with high-tech tones that create a sense of peace and tranquility that is soothing and refreshing.

This album will be of special interest to aficionados of ethnocentric world music.