This work uses one of the most popular Chinese folk melodies. The Little Chinese Cabbage, which withers prematurely in the field, is used as a metaphor for an orphan. This lament reflects the tragic destiny of the Chinese people in the past and is therefore popular everywhere and frequently used in arrangements.
As people move to different places and transmit the melody orally from one generation to the next, the melody is disseminated further and continuously modified, each variation reflecting the conditions of life of the people.
The Little Chinese Cabbage landed in the Western world in the 20th century. It has been sung and rearranged by many Chinese musicians living in the West to express their loneliness and sadness – their homesickness in a foreign culture and an alien world.
Like the destiny of China, The Little Chinese Cabbage undergoes transformation in the West. Inevitably, Western musical language and its compositional techniques become integrated in the melody, since it reflects the conditions of life of the creative musician.
This Klagegesang (lament) is one of the innumerable musical works based on The Little Chinese Cabbage. Cantus-firmus technique, the aleatory principle, unusual instrumental techniques and the ironic use of 12-tone technique all appear in this work.