Today China is set to become the world’s largest economy, probably within the next five to ten years. Despite position of power most in the West know little about China and its people. This Rough Guide offers an insight into the ancient, modern and contemporary history of China, and perhaps even a glimpse to the future.

Instruments such as the erhu, pipa and guzheng can be dated back some 3,000 years, and were introduced to China via the Silk Road trading routes from ancient Persia. ‘Yangguan Pass Melody – Three Variations’ by Min Huiffen is a well-known work for erhu. ‘Sai Ma’ by Mieko Miyazaki & Guo Gan mixes tradition with cross-cultural collaboration as erhu player Guo Gan is joined by Japanese koto player Mieko Miyazaki. ‘Sai Ma’ translates as ‘Horse Racing’ and reflects the galloping of the animals.

The music of pre-Communist 1930s to 1940s Shanghai reflected a large foreign population. Chinese folk was mixed with jazz to create some of the most evocative music in the country’s history.  ‘Shanghai Xiao Jie (Miss Shanghai)’ is a neat retro number dating back to the 1940s. The music of the Mao years equally convey the sound of a bygone era. This album features ‘My Motherland’ one of the greatest tunes of this era, which is even still popular today. Sung by Guo Lanying the lyrics reminds listeners of the beauty of their homeland. Also included are artists from the post 1980s rock explosion. Cold Fairyland, Xie Tian Xiao and Second Hand Rose are all active rockers on the contemporary scene. Shanren explore the music of local ethnic minority groups from the most southwestern Chinese province, Yunnan.

Do not miss this extensive Rough Guide complete with a full-length bonus album of World Music Networks’ acclaimed release, Introducing Hanggai. This hugely popular album is now out of print, so this is the only opportunity to buy an exclusive re-issue of the album.