top of page

World Lute Encounter Sitarist Mehboob Nadeem and Chinese lutenist Cheng-Ying Chuang Duo Talk & Demonstration Concert

17 May 2012

Ming-Ai (London) Institute

UK Research and Development Centre for Chinese Traditional Culture

The Global Federation of Chinese Business Women in the UK

Ming-Ai (London) Institute

UK Reserch and Development Centre for Chinese Traditional Culture, The Global Federation of Chinese Business Women in the UK, and Ming-Ai (London) Institute together organised this event “World Lute Encounter” and invited Cheng-Ying Chuang (countertenor and Chinese lutenist on liuqin & zhongruan), Mehboob Nadeem (sitarist & Indian classical voice), and Hanif Khan (tabla player) to give this cross-cultural music talk of Chinese and Indian music collaboration. It has attracted audience of various nationalities, music students, and musicians alike to experience a musical journey through the time and space between South Asia to Far East.


Derived from Mesopotamia, instruments of plucked-string (lute) family evolved into diverse physical structures and musical expressions under the nourishment of different cultures. Two plucked string soloists are not only instrumentalists of ancient cultures, but also professional singers belonging to Chinese/Western and Indian classical styles. With renowned tabla player Hanif Khan, three musicians form an unique combination in this project. They made an in-depth talk about Chinese /Indian musical tradition and demonstrate a variety of extracts containing instrumental solo, vocal solo, mixed duet with or without tabla accompaniment.


Beginning with a piece of the “Jasmine Flower + Raag Bhopali”, the ensemble showcased the collaboration with common pentatonic scale within Chinese and Indian music. Chuang uses Powerpoint presentation to introduce the history of Chinese plucked strings and perform the extracts of ancient lute piece “Moon on High” with modern arrangement on zhongruan and countertenor voice. Nadeem introduced and demonstrated (on sitar and Indian voice) the equivalent scale “Raag Kafi” in Indian music and it’s culturl meaning in Spring Festival. Then Khan demonstrated the Indian percussion instrument tabla with amazing precision and improvisation skills. Then Chuang played the zhongruan solo piece “The Remote Singing Voices” (Xinjiang style) under tabla accompaniment, which brought the audience into the imagination of ancient silk road journey.


After the break, Chuang introcued the group’s another cross-cultural music similarity in music theory. The popular key in Xinjiang’s seven beat dance music matches Raag Kirwani’s scale (although in different tonic) and Western music’s harmonic minor scale. Three musicians demonstrated a Xinjiang tune and improvisation of Raag Kirwani with Western harmony progression with Mehboob’s eclectic Indian vocal and Chuang’s powerful countertenor improvisation on the high register. Then Nadeem introduces the history of sitar and some contemporary collaboration with Western Pop/Classical musicians in 20th Century. Chuang projected some images to introduce the work of Hong Kong Maestro Yuen Shichun on ancient Chinese instrument recovery, especially on liuqin and zhongruan used today. And the ensemble finished the talk with Raag Bhairvi, showing Chinese and Indian music feature and virtuoso skills under the improvisational structure of Indian raag. This event evoked passionate responses from the audience under the Q&A session in the end of the talk. Three musicians answered diverse questions from the audience covering history, music theories, performing techniques, and inter-cultural collaboration in music and brought this fascinating talk and demonstration event to an enjoyable close.

bottom of page