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The Last Battle of a Great Hero in Chinese History

“The Hegemon-King Doffs His Armor” is a well-known piece of traditional military pipa music that depicts the battle of Gaixia. The protagonist of piece is Xiang Yu, the Hegemon-King of the Chu state. He is the loser of the battle, so the music is dull and tragic. The music emphasizes the heroic tragedy of Xiang Yu, his defeat in the battle, his failure to recover from the defeat, bidding farewell to his beloved concubine, and his eventually committing suicide. The melody expresses sympathy and is a eulogy for this renowned historical figure. The whole song can be divided into ten sections:

  1. 00:00—2:20 Camp Drum
  2. 02:21—2:55 Military Meeting in the Tent
  3. 02:56—3:33 Appointing Generals (A)
  4. 03:34—4:06 Appointing Generals (B)
  5. 04:07—4:17 Appointing Generals (C)
  6. 04:19—4:30 Entering the Battle Field
  7. 04:31—5:57 The Battle of Gaixia
  8. 05:58—7:48 The Song of Chu Kingdom
  9. 07:49—8:35 Farewell My Concubine
  10. 08:35—10:08 Wujiang River

Among them, “Farewell My Concubine” is tragic, amplifying Xiang Yu’s feelings of helplessness and pain. Xiang Yu, who has “the power to pull down a mountain,” faced his beloved wife, Yu Ji, while surrounded by enemy forces, uttering, “What can I do with you, oh, my lady fair.” Yu Ji followed Xiang Yu wherever he fought, and she was loyal to him. In order to let Xiang Yu break out of the encirclement, she committed suicide.

Title: The Hegemon-King Doffs His Armor

Pipa Performer: Vivian Liu

Drum: Paul Tsao

Mixing: Igor Jankovski

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