Music of Another Present Era: Air of The Rainbow Robe and Feathered Skirt

Paul Dolden

  • Year of composition: 2015
  • Duration: 12:34
  • Commission: NAISA, with support from the CCA
  • ISWC: T9206370414


ISRC CAD501710018

  • 44,1 kHz, 16 bits

Today the Chinese call it the Moon Festival. In Tang dynasty, it was a time of national holidays for moon gazing, drinking and merrymaking. Not everyone agreed on what the craters and plains of the lunar surface depicted. For some the moon was the site of an ice palace for the moon goddess and her court. In the folklore of the Tang, a magician escorted Emperor Illustrious August to that palace across a silver bridge that he had conjured up by tossing his staff into the air. During his sojourn there the emperor witnessed a performance of the Air of the Rainbow Robe and Feathered Skirt by immortal maids. He memorized the music, and on his return to Earth taught it to performers at his palace. The music and dance of this work remains the most famous artifact of the Tang dynasty today.

I have attempted to create a modern version of this work, in which maidens often sing, and dance rhythms abound.


Air of The Rainbow Robe and Feathered Skirt — 4th movement of Music of Another Present Era — was realized in 2015 at the composer’s studio in Val-Morin (Québec) and premiered on August 12, 2016, during the Sound Travels festival in Geary Lane in Toronto (Canada). The piece was commissioned by NAISA, with support from the CCA.


  • August 12, 2016, Sound Travels 2016: Two Retrospectives: Paul Dolden and John Oswald, Geary Lane, Toronto (Ontario, Canada)