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Top Ten Famous Traditional Chinese Music Pieces


Autumn Moon over Han Palace (han gong qiu yue)

Listed among one of ten ancient musical pieces, Autumn Moon over Han Palace actually does not have a very long history. Not concrete and definite in theme, the music is generally believed to express the hidden bitterness and depression suffered by palace maids in the imperial palace. The urhu version and zither version are forms of performance now widely in circulation.


Originally the first segment of the namesake guqin music of the Chongming School, the urhu version of Autumn Moon over Han Palace has also been played with Cantonese urhu after it was transplanted into Guangdong ditties. In about 1929, the celebrated folk music performer and educator Liu Tianhua recorded the scores for the disc Cantonese urhu version of Autumn Moon over Han Palace and adapted it to performance with urhu. As a result of the slow tempo of urhu and the subtle and changeable performing techniques, the pent-up bitterness and depression of the palace maids has been most picturesquely and appealingly depicted with the frequently occurring short stops and pauses, the intermittences, the soft tone colors of urhu, and the frequent appearance of special variant Zhi note.

The zither version of Autumn Moon over Han Palace is a typical Shandong zither piece, which takes on a pure and simple style with the employment of such techniques as chanting, gliding and pressing.

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