In 1987 the composer visited China and searched out the music of some of China’s so-called minority peoples. Field records made on this visit form the core of the work: the instrumental writing is mean as an enchancing backdrop to direct our listening to the ‘interior’ of the music.
First is heard to long-ge, a three-bladed Jews harp of the Yi nationality (Sichuan province). Next three women of the Miao nationality (Guizhou province) sing a melody of strong character with long notes and leaping intervals further enhanced by the gradual melting into a unison. The words mean “though we die, our songs like mountains, go on forever”. Finally we hear an ensemble of lusheng played by youths of the Ge nationality (Guizhou province) accompanying a dance. This six-piped bamboo mouth organ is common in the south of China and is found in various forms throughout Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and parts of Indonesia.