Nie Er (1912-1935), formerly named
Nie Shouxin, was born in Yuxi in Southwest China's Yunnan Province on February
15, 1912. He was a famous self-educated contemporary composer in
The name, Nie Er, came from an interesting
Nie Er loved music so much that he learned
many instruments by himself, such as Sanxian (a three-stringed
instrument), Huqin (two-stringed bowed instrument) and Yueqin
(four-stringed moon-shaped Chinese mandolin). And he was good at imitating
other's voice. People called him "ears" (Er means ears in Chinese), for he could
imitate all that he heard. Nie Er used to entertain people by moving his ears
back and forth, and was thus nicknamed Mr Ears. He liked the name very much and
changed his name to Nie Er.
The composer wrote many musical scores in
the 1930s, including The March of the Volunteers, which was selected as
the national anthem after New China was founded.
Nie Er also re-arranged some folk
instrumental pieces, including Spring Dawn on the Emerald Lake and The
Wild Dance of the Golden Snake. Nie applied many mature folk instrumental
techniques in these works, such as the spiral crescendo structure, which entails
a dialogue between contrasting upper and lower phrases, a step-by-step
shortening of the beat until a crescendo is reached. In addition, intense
gonging and drumming produces a heated and jubilant atmosphere.