Chinese Dragon Suite (Flute / Recorder & Piano)

By: PHILIP R BUTTALL
For: Solo Flute + piano
page one of Chinese Dragon Suite (Flute / Recorder & Piano)

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Composer
PHILIP R BUTTALL
Year of composition
2013
Publisher
Difficulty
Moderate (Grades 4-6)
Duration
8 minutes
Genre
World music
License details
For anything not permitted by the above licence then you should contact the publisher first to obtain permission.

Although this was originally for piano, it seemed to lend itself well to a version for Flute & Piano, where the difficulty level is somewhat lower than most of my other pieces, for both flautist and accompanist. Keeping the 'young person' theme in mind, I have also arranged the Flute part for Descant Recorder and Treble Recorder respectively, with few necessary changes. As with all my multi-versions, there are some subtle harmonic and melodic differences from the piano original!

The inspiration behind this short, four-movement suite, in its original version for Solo Piano, came from the Chung family, who are originally from Hong Kong, but settled in Plymouth. Their three ’children’ are each very musical, and fine pianists. Isaac is the youngest, and I have dedicated this suite to him, and he gave the first public performance of the whole work in April 2003. The title of each of the four movements is self-explanatory, although I had better just say that the final piece, ’Dragon City’ happened also to be the same as that of their Takeaway Restaurant, not that I was advertising, of course!

Isaac is now studying Medicine, and his sisters are an engineer and accountant respectively, so they have done really well in real life, too!

Rickshaw

This opens the Chinese Dragon Suite. It’s a bright and breezy little number suggesting this more ancient and traditional mode of transport in a bustling Chinese town – the regular quaver / eighth-note pattern in the left hand could suggest the pedalling of the ‘driver’. Basically in ternary form, with a repeat, and with a more sonorous middle section, where the left hand has its own chance to ‘sing’, there’s even a little bit of hand-crossing at the end!

Pagoda Garden

The second piece of the Chinese Dragon Suite, this is a quiet and contemplative number, where the melody is set against repeated chords, sometimes in the right hand, sometimes in the bass, with the right hand crossing over, and also together in octaves. Balance between melody and accompaniment is something to be aware of here.

Junks in the Harbour

Rippling arpeggios and hands crossing over lead to a serene picture of boats in the harbour, with the gentle 6/8 beat adding to the overall calmness of the picture - the third piece in the Suite.

Dragon City

Named after the Chungs’ former Chinese takeaway, the essentially ‘poppy’ beat is supposed to suggest the busy venue and its coming and goings, while the bare fifths emphasize the exotic nature, and, in particular, the name of the takeaway itself, and the importance of the dragon in Chinese culture – it rounded the original suite off with some aplomb!

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