Perhaps the most important aspect in the transformation of Mo Li Hua 茉莉花 into "Jasmine Flower" is the addition of harmonies at the hands of Karl Kambra, a German composer based in London. Chinese music is largely monophonic and does not use the triadic harmonies that make up the western tonal tradition. At the same time, the addition of the harmonization and a keyboard accompaniment–to make the song "more agreeable to the English ear"–brings it closer to listener expectations and performance conventions in eighteenth-century Europe.

Kambra, who made a number of such harmonizations, was eager to produce an arrangement that was clearly suitable for non-professional settings. The harmonies are very simple and the accompaniment is within easy reach of most keyboard players. There is some irony in the fact that a transcription error in the melody is further cemented by the way Kambra‘s harmonies embed this faulty note and in this way move the English version of "Jasmine Flower" further away from its Chinese counterpart.

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Olivia Lucas, soprano; Joe Fort, harpsichord


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