Water Music is an excerpt from Tan Dun’s landmark work Water Concerto for Water Percussion and Orchestra—in Memory of Toru Takemitsu. This excerpt is unique, in the way that Tan has put all the various forces in one piece. It is “alive,” an ongoing work, where the soloist improvises freely, never doing the same thing twice. This reflects Tan Dun’s musical experiences in Taoist ritual, when he was a wild, barefoot “mountain boy” in his grandmother’s village in the Chinese province of Hunan.
For Tan Dun, water is a metaphor for the unity of eternal and external, as well as a symbol of renewal, re-creation, and resurrection. The use of a water instruments is musical metaphysics, a powerful musical drama of Tan Dun’s personal music journey. In Tan Dun’s Water Music, one hears sounds central to the nature in which we live, but have too long not listened.