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Donald WomackWooden Dragon 木龍guzheng 古箏11:002012
While Western cultures typically imbue the mythological dragon with connotations of aggression, war and even evil, in Asia it is seen as a creature of great strength and power, an auspicious omen of luck that portends good fortune. The dragon rules its sphere with the overwhelming command of a divine creature able to control water and weather, as well as vary its own size to as small as a silk worm or as large as the entire space between heaven and earth. Yet, along with its awesome power and imposing appearance, it carries an air of grace and an aura of mystery reflective of the magical abilities it possesses.

In Wooden Dragon, the guzheng becomes a musical embodiment of the dragon persona. The dragon’s nature is reflected in the many powerful musical gestures that alternate with more brooding passages. The musical mood changes frequently, as bold and dramatic sweeps of sound contrast with more subdued passages where subtle inflections of color are brought to the fore. The dragon’s power is never far away though, as even in more muted moments its potent energy is felt, ready to burst forth.

After a forceful opening in which the dragon puts its power on display, the music proceeds through several sections of varying character, sometimes vigorous, sometimes more reflective. In the final section the dragon takes flight, swooping and soaring as if riding on a howling wind, until it finally disappears into the heavens.

Together these ideas transform the guzheng into a wooden dragon.