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Liu Sola’s Monkey King: Fighting without question

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Liu Sola’s Monkey King: Fighting without question

  Liu Sola

◎Jun Lei NNHR

The symphonic dance “Legend of the Great Sage” was composed to commemorate the centenary of Chinese animation and premiered at the Shanghai Symphony Hall on October 6, 2022. Five large screens hang above the familiar orchestra pit. The animated film “Havoc in Heaven” (1961 version) produced by the Shanghai Fine Arts Film Studio, together with the pipa, bangu, golden chime in the national musical instruments, and a full set of kashi in the Western orchestra, is about 80 minutes long. It is a rare reenactment of a story from the Heavenly Palace before the Buddhist scriptures. The focus of the music narrative is different from the traditional works of Journey to the West. It does not care about beliefs, nor does it ask about the future path. It only intercepts many fighting behaviors after the god monkey learns to become an artist, and faces different opponents each time, regardless of victory or defeat. Strong and weak, insist on fighting endlessly.

The percussion music is clear and bright, and the pipa language is amazing

Different from the common lyrical classical music and painting style, the opening performance of “The Legend of the Great Sage” shows more powerful modern features, starting with the percussion part with well-organized rhythm and full strength. The handling of the drums is very clean, the intervals between the drums are clear and clear, and there is a sense of power and beauty that is clear and bright. With the colorful Huaguo Mountain gradually approaching on the big screen, the simple shouts made by percussionists in line with the rhythm of their hands sounded in my ears. It is also a simple and clear performance method, but it effectively established the spiritual theme and style of the whole performance: highlighting the dynamics, capturing the legendary side of the classic stories, showing the battle scenes full of energy, and never withering. fighting spirit. Whether it is the Monkey King of Huaguo Mountain at the beginning, or the fiery-eyed Sun Dasheng who jumped out of the alchemy furnace at the end, the surging and undulating movements of the nine groups of movements are like the raging waves of the deep sea, and the performances of fighting and fighting are wonderful.

The use of the pipa runs through The Legend of the Great Sage in the time dimension, and at the same time contributes a variety of possibilities to the expressiveness of music. In the chapter of searching for the Dinghaishenzhen under the sea, the pipa manoeuvres are repeated repeatedly, which is interesting and humorous with the shrimp soldiers and crabs on the picture. In the movement specially written for the swaying and graceful Seven Fairies, the tones of the lute release more agility and lightness. The shaft is plucked and twisted gently and slowly. The crisp arpeggios bursting out of the strings complement the pretty face of the fluttering fairy robe well. Composer Liu Suola, who is also a woman, further magnified the overall proportion of Tiangong fairies in the legendary narrative. After completing the appearance and transition of the seven fairies with the intricate and varied pipa ensemble, the sixth movement “Pantao” was additionally extended. The Garden Discusses Right and Wrong”. At this time, the pipa was noisy and cutting, and the fingers were flying, like the urgent and wonderful sound of Yingti Yanju. However, the reality is hard, and the beauty of tranquility is always fleeting. After the sixth movement, which was almost the shortest in the audience, the war was about to break out. The functional pragmatics of the pipa also changed from the arrogance and arrogance of Yingying Yanyan to the killing sound of combat weapons. The black cloud and the heavy soldiers pressed on the head of the great saint together.

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There is a good reason why the symphonic dance “The Legend of the Great Sage” blends Chinese folk music with Western orchestra. In the prototype story of “Journey to the West”, the famous scene where the four heavenly kings take turns fighting against the great sage is the early childhood experience of reading Chinese classics. The jasper pipa is the instrument and weapon of the Heavenly King of the East Holding Kingdom (Magic Sea). Animation master Wan Laiming, in “Havoc in Heaven”, a milestone in Chinese animation, absorbed and integrated various elements of folk art, such as woodcuts, paper-cuts and temple statues, to present a three-dimensional and vivid shape of various gods. The air fighting scenes with pipa and silk-like sound are vivid and dynamic. In the distribution of the seventh and eighth movements of the symphony dance “The Legend of the Great Sage”, the fifth chapter of the original novel “The Great Sage of the Peach Peach Stealing Dan and the Gods of the Heavenly Palace” is equally divided, and the musical performance is boldly inspired. The timbre comparison of different instruments provokes a fierce battle between the orchestra and Chinese percussion. Composer Liu Sola described it as “each showing his own powers and energies against each other”.

Self-face and the atmosphere of the big times

Good music works are often pleasing to the ear, but just being pleasing to the ear is not a good music piece. “The Legend of the Great Sage”, as an innovative work completed through commissioning and customization, under the influence of both the reproduction of the plot of the classic novel and the matching of the animation movie screen, it still does not lose the creator’s self-face, and has a good understanding of the creator. There are many echoes of the current spiritual atmosphere in the operation of the times.

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In 2015, the national tide animation “The Return of the Great Sage” was released in the summer. Sun Dasheng, who has re-founded his own way, has gained hundreds of millions of “tap fans” with his super-long and super-red cloak, which is a new trend in Chinese animation films. The national tide opened the curtain. Subsequently, in 2019, “Nezha: The Devil Child Comes to the World” shouted the slogan of the awakening of the main power of “My life is up to me”, and the “New God List” series successively launched by Chasing Light Animation, “Nezha Rebirth” in 2021 And “Yang Jian” in 2022, both contain images of Monkey King to varying degrees. The continuous launch of these works marks a trend of thought in the current social youth culture: by reconstructing the mental journey of classic characters, reflecting on the real characteristics of the environment, and exploring the spiritual value that truly belongs to their own expression, rather than simply inheriting and repeating , or wrapped in self-loathing in a culture of mourning. For reference, the grand premiere of “The Legend of the Great Sage” during this year’s National Day holiday also bears the above-mentioned imprints of the times, and at the same time makes bolder attempts in the combination of stage images and musical language.

Perhaps in order to reproduce the beauty of rhythm in the ancient literary genre, “The Legend of the Great Sage” is divided into nine movements like the “Nine Chapters” and “Nine Songs” of Chu Ci. The Monkey King, 2. The East China Sea gets the golden hoop, 3. The official seal Bi Ma Wen, 4. The giant spirit god Nezha fights against Wukong, 5. The seven fairies cut through, 6. The Pantao Garden discusses right and wrong, 7. The drunken Pantao will steal the elixir, 8. The gods of the anti-Heavenly Palace to catch the blame, 9. The fiery-eyed Sun Dasheng.

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Readers familiar with the story of Journey to the West will soon see the clues of the selection angle from the connection of the nine passages. The focus of this symphony dance is the conflict between Tiangong and the world, and it focuses on intercepting the glorious legend of the monkey becoming a great sage, without involving the later stories of master and apprentice learning scriptures. Therefore, the element of behavior that expresses the image of the great sage is his endless struggle in every link. The guitar in the music is used to express Sun Dasheng’s unique fighting power, which has already been revealed in the second movement, but because the battle is still very long, the rhythm sometimes gives way to the horn, which expresses conservative authority. The low two syllables blown by the brass are mixed with the energetic and beating music, which inexplicably increases the timbre similar to the French conch. In the musical base that supports various disputes and battles, the smooth and powerful keynote incorporates a large number of ancient Chinese rhythms, and also absorbs the arrangement elements of jazz music. The theme of the passage is flexible, and the interesting rhythm and rhythm together constitute a mighty ocean-like hearing. Especially before the end of the whole song, the guitarist walked out of the stage, and a relaxed and even unbridled guitar solo led to the carnival of the whole band. One after another, the various musical instruments came one after another like an endless wave, forming a heterogeneous dissonance with the high-pitched guitar music.

This situation makes people unable to stop sighing: after all, Liu Suola, the avant-garde writer who wrote “You Have No Choice”, still remembers the writing of atonal music, portraying the dazzling image of the legendary sage in the turbulent East China Sea Above the raging waves, there is freedom and unrestrained fighting.

This group of pictures comes from the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra

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