Buyi Bluegrass: What Does Chinese Folk Music Sound Like on a Banjo?

Many of us love Chinese culture, and have different ways of expressing our admiration.

Let’s see how these two western musicians do that.

This duo, Abigail Washburn and Bela Fleck, are two of America’s best banjo players, and have a passion for Chinese music.

They shared this song, known as “Beautiful Red Flower,” as a gift for Chinese New Year.

The piece describes the redness of the flowers on the pear trees in the mountains above the Yangtze River. When you stand on the far side of the river, it looks like a great mountain is on fire against the sky.

“Hao Hua Hong” [ 好花红 ] is an age-old folk song from the native Buyi people who live in the high mountain forests of Guizhou Province.

The red flower cannot be so beautiful without being supported by its green leaves.  (Ancient Proverb)

Listening to this song being played on the banjo is similar to the pipa, which is a traditional Chinese instrument.

And if you liked that, you might enjoy this Western interpretation of  小月儿高 – “The Little Moon is High” played on the pipa.

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