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Sound Recording (Musical)
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4071 KB, 1 sound recording (4.18 min.) audio/x-wav
The opening prelude of the piano begins strikingly, with a series of extended tertian harmonies disguised as dissonant sevenths in the right, against left hand octaves. The increasing tempo within the two-page introduction offers propulsion, until the voices enter with a sense of impending urgency as apparent in the short rhythmic motives in the male voices. The upbeat rhythm in the lower voices is pitted against the piano’s figuration, sustaining the tension of the section until bar 54 with the heroine’s exclamation. Leong’s bold use of non conventional harmonic progression in the piano part is evident throughout the work. The piano’s accompaniment of Mulan’s extended solo from bars 90 to 126 is a case in point. Its unresolved harmonic excursions—confined within a 3/4 waltz meter—serves as an ironic foil to Mulan’s naivety. The piano part further benefits from a variety of textures and accompanimental patterns, though mostly in harmonic or rhythmic support of the voices. Although the frequent change of piano texture supports the narration and offers relief, this sometimes results in situations where the quick succession of horizontal and vertical sound patterns disrupts the continuity of the work. In this sense, Leong adopts a compositional stance that is more active than passive. Also evident is the principle of tension and conflict, with the composer juxtaposing linear passages in the voices (with its eastern influenced melodies) against the vertical construct of the piano part (which are western in orientation). Perhaps this may be perceived as Leong’s musical representation of Mulan’s defiance of social norms and her war against the invaders. But ultimately, it is a battle within Mulan—a battle she overcomes when she accepts her androgyny in the triumphant final line “I am male–female”.
This digital copy (c) National Library Board Singapore 2007. The original work (c) Leong Yoon Pin 1953.