|A BRIEF HISTORY OF MUSIC IN CHINA|
Although Confucian classics dating from 1st millennium BC discussed performance practice, there were no actual descriptions of the music. Confucius (6th-c. BC) taught music should be used for educational purposes and practiced in moderation. Reports of musical activities during the Tang Period (618-907) were abundant, and instruction manuals for chin or qin existed from the 6th-c. Music notation in tablature and pitch notation appeared from the 4th-c. BC. Cultural exchanges involving music were mentioned from 2nd-c. BC; Central Asian music entered China from 1st millennium AD.
|Ancient historical works existed from 1st-c. AD, and classical writings, musical treatises and private memoirs discussed ancient music. Instruments from 2000 BC included bronze bells, stone chimes and ocarinas, and sets of bells in Period of Warring States (late 5th-3rd-c. BC), mouth organs and large zither (2nd-c. BC), pi'pa (lutes) and ch'in (8th-c. AD).|
|Antiquity to Ch'in
Literary and archaeological evidence mentions the importance of ritual music for daily life; these included myths, dances and songs by shamans and magicians. Confucius compiled song texts in Shih-ching (The Book of Odes), describing duets on the chin (qin) and se.
|Han to T'ang Dynasty (206 BC to
A purge of Confucianists allegedly destroyed The Classic of Music and other literary classics. Han Dynasty (206 BC) rituals, formed to stabilize country, took on new, cosmological meanings and evolved into state cults. Music was practiced by commoners and professionals; compositions were commissioned and indigenous musical styles were marked by foreign influences. Historical works mention several formal and informal chamber ensemble musical styles, and military flute and drum compositions. Sculptures and cave paintings at Tun-huang in Northwest China confirm that Buddhists brought music from Central Asia into the country by the early Christian Era.
|Sui (581-618) and T'ang Dynasties
Various types of foreign music, musicians, instruments and modal systems were classified and described, and an official music bureau was established by the government to accommodate orchestras of different nationalities. Cosmopolitan music life was a rich mixture of foreign and indigenous styles; by the 7th-c, approximately ten different orchestras from China, Indochina, Korea, Kucha, Bokhara, Kashgar, Samarkand and Turfan were employed by the Chinese royal family. Many types of music outside the court tradition also existed.
|Late T'ang to Ch'ing Dynasty
China was governed by the Mongols (Yuan Dynasty 1280-1368) and Manchus (Ch'ing Dynasty 1644-1911), although the country's national culture had matured and there was resurgence of Chinese-oriented ways of thinking. Buddhist influence marked the late T`ang Period. Descriptions of music notation, modal systems, instructions for instrumental construction during the Sung Period, and music and theory provided important models for later dynasties.
|Instruments that existed were: cheng (zither with movable bridges, larger and more resonant than chin),vertical and horizontal flutes used for popular entertainment. Opera and music drama related to earlier song forms were practiced before the Sung Dynasty and flourished during Yuan, Ming and Ch'ing Dynasties, when they reached an unprecedented level of sophistication. Collections of dramatic songs complete with notation appeared from 17th-c.|
|China From 1911|
The impact of foreign music and culture on China was strong during the 20th-c, although Western culture was regarded as an alternative, rather than superior, to Chinese styles. A didactic style of nationalism was promoted by the Communist government but many creative musicians began to experiment with combinations of Chinese elements and Western techniques. New styles: school songs, organization songs, conference songs, social reform, patriotic, military and educational songs (Song of the Motherland). The proletarian movement that accompanied the Revolution in 1911 prompted many musical and cultural changes. Musical notation was rare until the 20th-c. Today, patriotic and nationalistic themes have been replaced with a more international flavor. Although many maverick pop stars have had problems with the government or have been ignored in Mainland China, they now enjoy a wide international reputation. Contemporary composers have also made their mark on the international music scene. After studying abroad, Tan Dun, Chen Yi, Chen Qigang and other composers have emigrated to the West, while Zhao Xiaosheng and others returned to China to pass on their knowledge of Western contemporary music to China's younger generation. Hong Kong's commercial pop music scene is thriving as it continually creates original styles like Kiigo (Chinese New Age music).
Siu Wang-Ngai with Peter Lovrick. Chinese Opera: Images and Stories. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press and Seattle: University of Washington Press1997. Fascinating description, excellent pictures.
|Stephen Jones, Folk Music of China: Living Instrumental Traditions, book and CD. Clarendon Press, 1999.|
|Gregory B. Lee. Troubadours, Trumpeters, and Troubled Makers : Lyricism, Nationalism and Hybridity in China and Its Others (Asia-Pacific Series). Duke University Press, 1996.|
|Richard Curt Kraus, Pianos and Politics in China: Middle-Class Ambitions and the Struggle over Western Music. Oxford University Press, 1989.|
|Bell Yung, Evelyn S. Rawski, Rubie S. Watson, eds. Harmony and Counterpoint : Ritual Music in Chinese Context. Stanford University Press, 1996.|
|Jianying Zha. China Pop: How Soap Operas, Tabloids and Bestsellers are Transforming a Culture, 1995. (An interesting look at the vast cultural changes in contemporary China)|
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