Bai Mudan

Selection of repertoire for a high school guitar ensemble is fun and challenging.

We want to get the right mix of mood, genre, and challenge level. I also look to draw on the music of different cultures as much as possible – for the aesthetic variety, but also as a cultural education for my students.

Andrew Forrest’s arrangement of Bai Mudan, is for three guitars, a bass guitar, and a requinto in F (which I transcribed to traditional guitar). As you might expect from a Chinese folk song, the tune is pentatonic which offers another teachable moment for your young students.

“Bai Mudan” translates to “White Peony,” and can either refer to a special white tea, or to a beautiful temptress. Its ambiguous connotations leave cultural connections up to the discretion of the music teacher. 

What is more interesting in this arrangement, are some of the performance techniques the arrangement calls for – harmonics, “sul pont” (playing nearer the bridge for a tinnier sound), “sul tasto” (playing over the fingerboard for a soft, thin tone), glissando grace notes, mordents, arpeggio accompaniments, and melodies played in octaves.

You can find the arrangement on Forrest Guitar Ensembles

Or here. Bai Mudan

The entry on his site includes a live mp3 download, as well as the pdf of full score and parts.


For a play-along (Music Minus Me) experience, here are the extracts.

Bai Mudan (minus Gtr 2)

Bai Mudan (minus Gtr 3)

Bai Mudan (minus Gtr 4)

Bai Mudan (minus Requinto)