"Five Elements", corresponding to Chinese philosophy, consists of Water, Fire, Metal, Wood, and Earth. Each music piece represents one element with its own elegant characteristics. In Chinese philosophy, everything is included in these five elements. These five elements generate each other, and also control each other. The EP provides a delight taste of nature, flow and meditation.
♪ Mermaid Element: Water
"You give all you have, living everyday as walking on the blade. But, you might not get the reward."
♪ Shimmer Element: Fire
"How much can we change it?” "Maybe we are only 'shimmering’, but dim light still cannot be neglected.”
♪ Spiegel Element: Metal
"Spiegel" is the German word for "Mirror". "Everything we see is not what it really is, but only the reflection of who we are."
Ambience + Guitar
♪ ONE TOWN Element: Wood
"One town was glorious; One town will be the way home."
Ambience + Vocal
♪ Eternity Element: Earth
Guitar Solo (steel-string)
All music and lyrics composed, performed, and produced by Yunjia Liu. Illustrator: Yanbing Zhang
“Mermaid” was composed at the beginning of 2018. There are three main sections plus the Intro (little start) and the Coda (short end) in this piece:
Bubbles – First Glance – Destiny – Aria of Dissolving “last time singing” – Bubbles.
The structure is corresponding to the fairy tale “The Little Mermaid” by H. C. Anderson: The little mermaid lives in the sea, and once has a glance with the handsome prince. Then she takes the portion to turn herself into a human, but the sacrifice is to lose her beautiful voice. The witch tells her, if she cannot get the love from the prince, she will turn to bubbles and disappear with the sunrise after the prince got married with someone else.
This is a sad story, but it is also about giving everything, even life, to pursue what she wants. The music of the third section “Aria of Dissolving ‘last time singing’” came to my mind at first, after I got the information that the conservatoire I always wanted to go in Germany, and for which I’ve been prepared for a whole year, stopped taking any master student for that semester (and also the semester after). I was completely lost at that time and didn’t know where to go. So I felt like maybe I would just sing the aria (actually played by guitar in the composition) for the last time and disappear somewhere from Germany, maybe back to China, maybe back to Australia…
The reason why "Mermaid" corresponds to the element “Water” is because the sea is one of the main characters in this story.
“Shimmer” was composed in a relatively dark time in 2017, when self-doubt was overwhelming. The question was if I was qualified as a guitarist at all. Music is always as a belief, but this doubt is the question mark pointing to the root. The technical perspective of playing in German Conservatoire is very different from the Australian ones, and I heard quite a few negative words about my playing – not flawless enough.
The subtitle of “Shimmer” is “How much can we change it?” I thought I had tried very hard to change my habit of playing, but the result was not satisfying. I even doubted if the good result would come at all.
Luckily, a few months later, I met the teacher, who I am now going to study with in October, told me that my playing was very beautiful, and the only problem was a bit of technical issue. The confident started to come back gradually, and the result is now very pleasant! Therefore, I’ve added another sentence at the end of the piece: “Maybe we are only ‘shimmering’, but dim light still cannot be neglected.” Now the theme is complete. Why “Shimmer” represents the element “Fire”? Because shimmer for me is like the candlelight – not bright, but lit with the jumping flame – this also corresponds to some rhythm and accents in the piece.
"Spiegel" is the German word for "Mirror". This is a philosophical composition with the idea of "Everything we see is not what it really is, but only the reflection of who we are."
This piece was inspired by the judgements from other people about me and my music journey. No matter how negatively people are talk about me, it is not really what I am like, but only an illusion, or a trigger in their mind about what they are like. In this way, it will be much easier to deal with the unfriendly words. The piece corresponds to the element "Metal” because of the metal powder painted on the backside of a mirror.
The reason why I went to Australia, far away from home, to study guitar is because I want to improve my technique, so that I could go back to China and play better music with my band. But after four years of study, when I was back in China and asked the band members to play music together again, things were completely different. They all got other jobs to make a living and barely played music. Well, there is no way "back", and one can only move forward.
Lyrics in Chinese & English translation:
《一城》 "ONE TOWN"
从一城到一城 From one town to another 将人镀上一层冰霜 One is plated with ice and frost 夏日轻舞 Summer dances light 冬日漫长 Winter lasts long
微风尽 Breeze ends 相守听那花落花开 Listen to the flowers blooming and falling 孤夜里 Lonely night 星流转 Stars flow
我带了磨利的剑归来 I come back with the sharpened sword 却不想 Only to find out 早已物是人非 Everything is different
记忆里 In memory 一城是绚烂 One town was glorious 期待中 In hope 一城是归路 One town will be the way home
一城是绚烂 One town was glorious 一城是归路 One town will be the way home
I was moving quite often from one country to another: China, Australia, England, Germany… One town I wanted to go back was glorious but it is already passed, and hopefully one town will be the way home, for me, and for the music journey.
The piece corresponds to the element "Wood”, because if I am like a tree this journey is trying to find where the root is.
"Eternity" is the only piece in this EP, which is played by a steel-string guitar. The tuning of the guitar EBEGAD is also different from the standard tuning EADGBE.
The idea of the piece is "Can we achieve Eternity in music?” and the subtitle is "Timeless, Spaceless.” The hope is that music is everlasting, and it exists regardless of time and space.
One interesting element of this piece is the open ending, which provides the opportunity to play this piece as a loop again and again, and again. This is also why it is called "Eternity”, because it is like we as human only get to see very few planets in the whole universe, and we are only the audiences of a "blink” of the everlasting existence. Music is always there, comes to our sight and then disappears, because our lifespan and vision is so limited.
The piece corresponds to the element "Earth”, because lives come from the earth, and then they are dead and turned back to the earth. The Earth represents the everlasting.
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