This ancient Chinese music is considered as one of the ten foremost pieces of classical music (中国十大古曲) whose exact origins are lost but have been major influences in Chinese culture through the centuries.

The 《十面埋伏》 or “Ambush from All Sides”, depicts the final titanic battle between 项羽/XiangYu of Chu and 刘邦/LiuPang of Han. The erstwhile victorious but now desperate 项羽/XiangYu fails to break the iron grip of the tightening manoeuvre employed by 刘邦/LiuPang (whose forces had been constantly on the backfoot in earlier engagements); and thus finally, the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.) was born.

Generations later, a Ming dynasty music historian was to describe the music of 《十面埋伏》 / Ambush from All Sides, as possessing such vivid battlefield images:


As the two armies engaged in combat, the clash resounds from heaven to earth, and the tiles on roofs crumbles into flying dust. Probing(listening) deeper still, there is the sound of golden drums, of swords and crossbows, of men and horses… … It causes the hearer to begin with excitement, to continue with fear, and to weep without end. It is truly moving.

Chinese pipa solo: 《十面埋伏》 Ambush from All Sides
[劉德海/Liu DeHai 1970]

(This 7min clip is worth going through. The tune gathers pace and gets faster and faster almost without letting up until the amazing breathless end. His hands simply becomes a blur.)

Another amazing slowhand:

Jimi Hendrix – Fire


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