Two Sichuan Folksongs (2002)
Prepared piano. 8:00.
These Sichuan folk song arrangements were shaped by Erik Griswold's experiences in Chengdu during the winter of 2001-02. "Bitter Vegetables, Bitter Yinyin" is reminiscent of the Afro-American spiritual, "Motherless Child." The character, Yinyin, is abandoned in the asbestos mining town of Shimian in Sichuan Province and the song tells of her loneliness and despair. The prepared piano, invented by John Cage in 1940, uses mutes of various materials wedged between the strings of a grand piano completely transforming its sound characteristics and endowing each note with a unique timbre. In preparing the piano with rubber, bolts and screws, Griswold has literally coaxed a Chinese orchestral ensemble out of the instrument, the high notes suggesting the pipa (lute), the middle and lower registers, the qin (7-stringed zither) and gu zheng (17-stringed zither) respectively. - Margaret Leng Tan
"[Pianist Margaret Leng] Tan's Asian-themed program included Erik Griswold's attractive arrangements of two Chinese folk songs…Tan explained the term, demonstrating how inserting bolts, screws, rubber and even chewing gum into the instrument creates a miniature percussion section. The tin-can high tones and low buzzes became stand-ins for the Chinese pipa (lute) and qin (zither)."
- Tom Huizenga, The Washington Post