CHEN Yi - Duo Ye06:15

CHEN Yi - Duo Ye


The Chinese born contemporary composer Chen Yi has written music for a wide spectrum of instrumentations as well as for voice. Her works include symphonic and chamber orchestras, chamber ensembles, works for choir, as well as works for Chinese traditional instruments, both solo and ensembles, and they have been widely performed and recorded.  


The title Duo Ye is from the traditional song form that is used by the minority groups in that region.  The words Ya Duo Ye  are meaningless syllables that the people use in response to the improvisation the lead singer provides. 

Chen Yi uses the song as her melodic motive, especially in places descriptive to the ethnic group. She also utilizes Beijing Opera tunes and Mountain Songs to depict the guests from Beijing. The rhythmic development is derived from two sophisticated folk rhythm organizations, one called The Sum of Eight, and the other, The Golden Olive.

The formal design of the piece has been analyzed in several ways; some say it closely resembles a sonata Allegro form,some say it has a free rhapsody‐like form,and others say a sectional form works the best. In this case, the piece will be analyzed as a sectional form, with each section symbolizing a different character and serving a unique purpose. 


Written in 1989, Guessing was composed during the years of Chen Yi’s doctoral study at Columbia University. It was based on a popular Southern  Chinese folk song with the same title. Chen Yi writes in her program notes for the piece: “I often remember the very popular Chinese folk song called ‘Guessing’ which is in a humorous antiphonal singing style. For this piano piece, I took a fragment of the tune from the song and developed it in pitch, range, dynamics, rhythm, and expression, using basic techniques of piano performance. The piece shows a simple and rustic feeling in an obviously strong Chinese musical style."


Chen Yi’s solo piano music was introduced to me by my undergraduate piano professor, when he recommended Duo Ye to me.  Since then, I have always kept an interest in her music.

Work CitedEdit

Barkin, Elaine. “ The New Music of Chen Yi.” Journal of Music in China (October 1999): 147‐150.

“Composer Chen Yi Highlights.” Journal of Music in China (October 1999): 116‐120.  

Pan, YongHua. “An Exploration of Duo Ye: The Folk Song and Dance of the Dong Ethnic Group.” Chinese Music 4 (2002): 35‐36.  

"Chen Yi - Duo Ye". Youtube Video. Uploaded Aug. 20, 2010. Posted by “schubertiade10”. Accessed April 26,2014.

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