“Heaven has produced the five elements which supply humankind’s requirements, and the people use them all. Not one of them can be dispensed with.”
- Zuo Zhuan’s record on the 27th year of the reign of Duke Xiang (590-573 B.C.E.)
A suite inspired by the Wu Xing (五行), the ancient five elements or phases, underpinning Chinese philosophy. Each phase has certain attributes that have informed the composition and then are used by the musicians in their improvisations.
There is a major difference to the ancient Greek elements in that the Wu Xing are more transitional in nature, where they can move in different cycles. One is more of a consuming nature, eg. fire consumes wood, but the cycle here is generative, where one elements begets another. The start and end points were chosen by the connection of Wood to birth and Water to death, but even at the end the cycle begins again.
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