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Listen to the Water

for flute, bass clarinet, piano, string quartet, percussion and tea art masters

Year:  2020   ·  Duration:  10m
Instrumentation:  flute (alto + picc), bass clarinet, 2 perc (glock, temple blk, wind chimes, vibraphone, Chinese drum, gong, tam-tam), piano, 2 violins, viola, cello, 2 tea-art masters (tea set, jews harp, singing bowl, tea table, tea set, buckets, bamboo water ladle)

Year:  2020
Duration:  10m
Instrumentation  flute (alto + picc), bass c...

Shen Nalin

Composer:   Shen Nalin

Films, Audio & Samples

Shen Nalin: Listen to the W...

Internal audio
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Sample Score

Sample: pages 1–6 of score

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Listen to the water (听水) is the second piece of The Tea Game (斗茶) suite for ensemble. It was inspired by two poems of Mr. Lin Erjia (林尔嘉) — “Listen to the water” and “Again, listen to the spirit of water and mountain” — words that were engraved at the foot of the Feilai mountain outside of the Lingyin Temple in the 1930s.

The composer imagined the connection between ‘listening to the water’ in different circumstances in which the mind will move with the water. Some examples are ‘listening to the leaves of a flower falling into the water’ or ‘listening to the willows in the water’. Another example is listening to the water in ‘Tea-art’ (茶艺) (including listening to Springs, taking water, pouring water, boiling water, and so on). That is why Mr. Lin's “listen to the water” is used as the title of this piece.

The composer was also fascinated by a song called “Zhao Jue — sorrow for the spring” 《角招-为春瘦》in the mode of “Huangzhong Jue” Baishi Daoren (Jiang Kui 姜夔, 1145-1121) — the poetic lyrics in which the poet expresses his sorrow for an old friend's parting in the West Lake, the weeping of new willows in early spring, and the thousand acres of plum blossoms that fall in the late spring. Therefore, this composition quotes the tune of “Jue Zhao” from a pretranscribed version from the only existing ancient music score by a Dr. Wu Santu (伍三土), and uses transcription in composition to reform the original materials in a unique musical language by use of musical inversions, restructuring, deconstruction, and various other composition techniques.