The Music of China

China

 

Chinese Music Websites

Chinese Instruments



  • dizi - transverse bamboo flute
 erhu- two-stringed fiddle
  • pipa - pear-shaped lute that can sound multiple pitches at once
  • qin (also guqin) - Seven stringed zither with an ancient design

  • souna - double-reed wind instrument (similar to the Western oboe)

beiguan

A band of wind and percussion players who perform outdoor ritual music, predominantly at funerals and temple festivities. It emanates a muscular self-confidence that perfectly matches its outdoor setting.

gongche

Similar to the Western do-re-mi system: Each symbol records a tone's position in the scale (that is, its relative pitch, not its absolute pitch), and the main overall function of the notation is written in columns, starting on the right-hand side.

guoyue

"national music" a style like so many in the twentieth century world that drew on aspects of Western means while attempting to preserve and develop national musical content as an alternative to Western music.

jianzipu

Written score, literally translated, "abbreviated character notation"

jingju

Beijing opera

qingyi

A serious heroine, a good actresses are reputed not only for their vocal powers but also for their evocative use of stance and gesture, which an audio recording obviously cannot capture.

sanxian

Three-stringed, long-necked lute

shan'ge

Outdoor songs for agricultural work, flirting and courting

xiao

bamboo end-blown vertical flute

zheng (also guzheng)

a bridged zither with usually twenty-five strings

absolute pitch

This means that we can today relate the ancient names of notes with their actual pitch levels

ancestor worship

This form of worship involves rites of pay respect to natural and supernatural forces and to one's forefathers.

Buddhism

Came from India to China in the first millennium C.E. This doctrine held that human beings were inherently imperfect but, through religious practice, could embark on a journey of gradual self-improvement through multiple incarnations toward a purified future.

Confucianism

Emerged from the writings of Kong Fuzi (literally Lord Kong, c. 550-479 B.C.E.), argued that good governance required a fixed social hierarchy in which loyalty flowed upward from wife to husband, son to father, common man to ruler, and ruler to heaven. Social responsibility then passed downward, with each individual obliged to care for those on the next stratum below. Confucius saw human nature as basically good but easily corrupted by poor leadership.

Daoism (also Taoism)

This is the idea of yin and yang, literally the female and male principles, sometimes symbolized. For our purposes here, the idea is that any entity comprises not only a principal object but, at the same time, its complementary opposite. The new is not just new, but a reaction to the old, which was itself once new in turn.

Jiangnan sizhu

Its name means the silk and bamboo music of the Jiangnan region, in East China around the lower reaches of the Changjiang (Yangtze River). The phrase silk and bamboo refers to the two major categories of instruments used in this music, silk-stringed instruments and bamboo-tubed wind instruments.

onomatopoeic syllables

Syllables that sound like the sounds they represent

relative pitch

This means that we can understand how the names of notes fit together into a tonal system

strophic

A song format used for many kinds of counting and listening songs, each verse introducing the next item in a series.

Suzhou tanci

Suzhou ballad-singing

tone language

The pitch (high, low, rising, falling, etc.) at which a symbol is pronounced is as important in determining its meaning as its combination of other components (duration, stress, and the sounds equivalent to consonants and vowels).

yin and yang

Literally the female and male principles, sometimes symbolized. For our purposes here, the idea is that any entity comprises not only a principal object but, at the same time, its complementary opposite. The new is not just new, but a reaction to the old, which was itself once new in turn.

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