Tibetan Music – About Religion, Besides Religion

By Sari Xu

To be honest, as an outsider, I found it hard to distinguish Yi music from traditional music of Dai people. The closer these ethnic groups are geographically, the more similarities we could see among their music. However, Tibetan music is much more distinctive and you can easily recognize it after you read about the following introductions.

About Religious Music                                                                                                   

The main religion of Tibetan people is Lamaism (The Mahayana branch of Buddhism). Therefore, their music is mostly Buddhist music. Other than the traditional chanting music, Tibetan people also created their own musical notation – Yāng Yí Musical Notation (央移谱) back in 14th century. It consists both straight lines and curves, while the 7 straight lines have the same function as the modern Western musical score, the curves replace the notes and indicate the entire flow of the melody. Therefore, there is no publicly accepted standard for these notes. The only way to read the notation is to learn from senior lama (monks), follow their chant, keep practicing daily for lifetime, and truly understand the meanings behind.

Just like the Pilgrimage to Santiago, the road to Potala Palace, Lhasa is another famous route among pilgrims. The religious music is one of the main sources that mentally supports the lama and pilgrims to finish their pilgrimage with a worship on the ground every three steps starting from their hometown until Potala.

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A Yang Yi Musical Notation Sample

 

 

 

 

Besides Religious Music

Other than their religious life, Tibetan people also sing and dance a lot in their daily life. The concepts are mostly about the nature, the family reunion, and best wishes to everything. Some popular types of folk songs including Sgor-Gzhas(果谐), Reba-Gzhas(热巴谐) and Mamani(嘛玛尼), etc. Sgor-Gzhas is the most popular way of singing while dancing in a circle simultaneously. Reba-Gzhas represents various types of dance music to accompany with knife dance, deer dance, musical dramas and so on. The Mamani artists usually hang on a religious painting in front of the audience and tell the religious story through their songs.

Modern Artists and Singers

The music talents of Tibetan people are also widely recognized by audience around China. Tseitain Zhoima, as one of the best sopranos in China, was deeply influenced by Tibetan folk music since childhood. Her iconic works including Liberated Tibetan Serfs Singing the Emancipation, Over the Gold Hill in Beijing, The East is Red, etc. Yangchen Zhoima, probably more known as Han Hong (韩红), is a mixed Tibetan-Han singer and songwriter. Heavenly Road is her prestigious masterpiece.

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Tseitain Zhoima Performing in Tibetan Clothing

Why Tibetan?

Tibetan people are born to be great singers. Why?

Around 8000 years ago, Qiāng Tribe, the ancestor of Tibetan people, settled in the Tibet Plateau and started grazing. To communicate on the endless plain, it’s necessary to have great voice when herding animals. In addition, the atmosphere pressure is much lower at high altitude like Tibet, the trachea, bronchus and lungs of Tibetan people gradually evolved and developed to tackle with the thin air. This helps Tibetan people to reach really high pitches and also spread their voice far away.

Nowadays, more and more musicians fall in love with Tibetan music and started to add Tibetan elements into their own music. No matter what types of music they are doing, they could always find the Tibetan music mixing well with the pop music favored by the majority. Therefore, the Tibetan music now is no longer about religion only, it goes beyond Lamaism, and even beyond the border to the international stage. Check out this performance to see how young Tibetan singers are promoting their own music in a modern way.

 

 

About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide!”

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 15 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion via ChineseFashionStyle.com, Kungfu Fashion, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


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Dai Music – Mountain Songs, Zanha and Much More

By Sari Xu

Pavane, or more known as Peacock dance in China, is the representative dance of Dai ethnic minority group (傣族). The dance is usually accompanied with traditional Dai music such as The Spirit of Peacock, Moonlight and so on. Since the top Chinese dancer Liping Yang (杨丽萍) performed this dance on several international stages, people might think this is the most prestigious and only dance for Dai nation. However, the true Dai music and dance are much more colorful than we can imagine.

Mountain Songs

Just like other ethnic groups living in the mountain area, Dai people living on the mountains also have their unique mountain songs (山歌), which is a kind of folk songs people love to sing in the mountain when they are climbing, doing farming and playing around. If you have been travelling to the mountains, you can tell the echoes made by the nature are best harmony for the singers. Though solo is the most common form of mountain songs, young couples also created tons of antiphonal songs (对歌), or “Call and Response” to express their love to each other, laud the nature and their hometown in turn.

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Typical Mountains in Yunnan Province

The mountain songs are generally divided into two categories – Han Ma (喊嘛) and Han Tong Mao (喊同卯). In Chinese, they both literally mean “shouting out”. The difference is Han Ma is more lyrical and the latter is more cheerful with more straightforward melody.

If necessary, Ding Qin (玎琴) is used to accompany with the love song. It is a traditional plucked string musical instrument like Pipa (琵琶) used exclusively within the Dai ethnic group. People usually call it “instrument of love”.

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Ding Qin (玎琴)

I believe, the best mountains songs are all improvisations. Once Dai people got inspiration from the environment and folks around them, artworks just come out by the light of nature.

Chinese Rap – Zanha’s Talking and Singing

Zanha (赞哈) in Dai dialect refers to the semi-professional artists who perform at special occasions in Sipsongpanna (西双版纳) such as holidays and festivals, building up new houses, marriage and new-born celebration, Buddha events and so on. In Menglian County (孟连), they are called Wogan (窝甘). Therefore, their tones are specially named as “Zanha Melody” (赞哈调) or “Wogan Melody” (窝甘调). Usually, there is one singer and one accompanist collaborating together to make the polyphony. Combining the singing and talking together, people like the way of “Shuochang” (说唱) since hundreds of years ago. Does this remind you of the modern rap music? Well, you’ll find the beats to be very distinctive!

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Folk Artists Performing Zanha Melody

 

Dance Music

Other than the most famous peacock dancing, Dai people also owns lots of dances imitating fishes, elephants, and red deer, etc. Therefore, there are dance music called Peacock Songs, Drum Melody, Twelve Horses Melody, Yilahui, Hanzha and so on. These songs are mostly accompanied by the “elephant foot drum” (象脚鼓), a traditional Dai drum look like the elephant’s foot. Interestingly, Dai people love to place a layer of glutinous rice in the middle of the drum surface to make the sounds deeper.

 

Musical Instruments

Hulusi and Bawu are both widely used within Dai group either as solo instruments or accompany with the dance and songs. Hulusi is especially popular since it’s derived from the Dai group. There is a Hulusi masterpiece called There is a Beautiful Place. I hope by checking out this Hulusi performance together with the Yunnan view in the video, you can find this beautiful place!

 

About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide!”

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 15 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion via ChineseFashionStyle.com, Kungfu Fashion, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


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Yi People – Their Music and Life

By Sari Xu

Ethnic minority people are better at singing and dancing than the Han people in general. One possible reason I guess is that the minority people live very close to the nature even till today, so they get lots of inspirations and ideas from the mountains, the rivers, and the forests, and also get the places for them to sing and dance.

Yi ethnic minority group is typically keen on singing and dancing, with its unique melodies and musical instruments locating at the South-West of China. Everyone from Yi could as least sing one traditional melody or Shan’ge (山歌, Chinese folk songs, lit. mountain songs), with ladies and gentlemen having quite different parts. While Yi guys usually have a deep voice, women are known for their soft, yet crisp voice with a really broad range. Basically, they sing all the time through their daily life, that’s when they created the mountain climbing melody (爬山调, Yi people mostly live in the mountain), visiting melody (进门调), welcoming melody (迎客调), drinking melody (吃酒调), marrying melody (娶亲调),  just to name a few.

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These melodies above are just some rhythm to follow. People write lyrics usually with 5 or 7 words, and 1, 2 or 4 sentences in sequence to create songs when they are doing farming and other labor work, singing lullaby to babies, and celebrating festivals. Therefore, just like most of traditional Chinese folk songs, we don’t know the author of these songs and there were no music scores to keep the record. Actually, there’s no need to do so. People sing their favorite songs all year round and generation by generation, and those most popular ones are automatically passed on till today when modern composers find them. Generally, composers would follow the traditional Chinese 5-tone model (五声调式) with 5 solfège – do, re, mi, sol, la.

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The best scene to enjoying Yi people’s favorite songs would of course be – dancing. Since there are so many types of dances, people even specifically divide them into “music dance” (乐舞) and “song dance” (歌舞) within their group. While music dance is usually dance accompanied with Yi music instruments, song dance is the dance that most suitable to dance when singing. Some famous dances include: Da Ge (打歌), Die Jiao (跌脚), Luo Zuo (罗作), San Bu Xian (三步弦), Pi Zhan Wu (披毡舞), etc.

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Pi Zhan Wu (披毡舞)

Da Ge and Die Jiao are similar to tap dance with fancy leg movement. Luo Zuo could be simply described as Da Ge plus hand gestures while all these 3 are circle dances. San Bu Xian is a music dance accompanied with 3 different chords played by bamboo flutes and Pi Zhan Wu (Zhan means felt in Chinese) requires the dancer to wear a felt and imitate the gestures of the eagle or bear.

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The best time of the year for Yi people to sing and dance as much as they want, would be their Torch Festival on June 24th (on Lunar Calendar) shared with some other ethnic groups like Lahu people (拉祜族), Naxi people (纳西族) and Bai people (白族). Except bullfighting, cockfighting, wrestling and horse racing which mostly participated by men, everyone, even kids and the elderly would form a circle and dance together with music and singing.

Other than the local melodies, Yi musical instruments are also something you can’t find elsewhere previously. Mabu (马布), Bawu (巴乌), Kouxian (口弦) and Hulu Sheng (葫芦笙) are some examples that later being applied by modern musicians around China. The famous some adapted from one Yi folk song is Please Stay, Guests from Faraway (远方的客人请你留下来). Now we can tell how welcoming the Yi people are and how music equate to their life!

Check out this video made by a travelling photographer who visited Shilin Yunnan (云南石林) for the Torch Festival! I promise you can feel the fire everywhere!

 

About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide!”

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 15 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion via ChineseFashionStyle.com, Kungfu Fashion, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!

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Modern Chinese Orchestras – Some Famous Chinese Bands and Their Magnum Opuses

By Sari Xu

The word “Orchestra”, or more specifically, symphony orchestra or philharmonic orchestra, must remind you of the sparkly and glowed Western classic musical instruments – fiddles, cellos, violas, clarinets, oboes, flutes, trumpet, tubas, etc. dating back to the European Renaissance period (around 14th – 17th centuries). Shining, classic, elegant, and traditional. Actually, the orchestra doesn’t only exist in Western countries, in China and various overseas Chinese communities, there are also several forms of modern orchestras that contains mostly Chinese traditional musical instruments.

The modern Chinese orchestra was first developed out of Jiangnan Sī Zhú ensemble (江南丝竹, silk and bamboo instruments based ensembles formed in regions south of the Yangtze River) in the 1920s into a form that is based on the structure and principles of a Western symphony orchestra but using Chinese instruments. The orchestra is divided into four sections – wind, plucked strings, bow strings, and percussion, and usually performs modernized traditional music called Guó Yuè (国乐, lit. national music). You might hear other titles more often like Mín Zú Yuetuan (民族乐团) or Mín Zú Yuè Duì (民族乐队) in mainland China, Zhōng Yuè Tuān (中乐团) in Hong Kong, Huá Yuè Tuán (华乐团) in South East Asia, or Guó Yuè Tuán (国乐团) in Taiwan. The “Yuè Tuán” means orchestra, and sorry for having so many characters all referring to “China”, don’t be confused, all these names share the same meaning!

The origin of modern Chinese orchestra dates back to early 20th century, when a number of Chinese musicians became interested in improving traditional Chinese music. A notable early pioneer was Zheng Jinwen (郑觐文, 1872-1935) who founded a music institution in Shanghai in 1921, the Great Unity Music Society (大同乐会), to develop and maintain Chinese music in the modern age, recreating ancient music and instruments as well as creating new ensemble music for Chinese instruments. Zheng experimented with increasing the number of player in a Jiangnan Sī Zhú ensemble to 35, and separated the instruments into different sections. He began to standardize the instruments, for example inventing methods to resolve the problem of traditional instruments such as Dizi (笛子) where the fundamental tuning for various instruments may be different. He also updated traditional instruments such as the sheng by increasing the number of pipes to increase its range and allow it to play harmony and chords. In the past, each player may embellish their parts at will, but in this new orchestra, Zheng wrote specific music for each instruments or sections like what Western orchestra composers do. One early signature tune of the music club was Spring Flowers on Moonlit River (春江花月夜), arranged for the ensemble by Liu Raozhang in 1925 based on an older tune for pipa which we discussed before.

With the efforts of the united group of musicians, artists, composers and performers, modern Chinese orchestras rose significantly during the past century and there existed some famous and notable orchestras that even went international: China Broadcasting Chinese Orchestra, founded in 1953, is a major Chinese orchestra based in Beijing. A compilation of the orchestra’s music entitled Phases of the Moon: Traditional Chinese Music, produced by the China Record Company and released by CBS in 1981, was one of the first and best-known recordings of Chinese music in the West.

Shanghai Chinese Orchestra was the first large-scale modern orchestra of traditional instruments in China founded in 1952. It performed in more than 80 cities in China, as well as in more than 30 foreign countries. In 2001 and 2003 it performed two Chinese New Year concerts at the Musikverein in Vienna. It achieved a number of world records as recorded by Guinness Book of Records. In 2001, Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra recorded the largest number of people performing the erhu at the same time with a thousand players performing at a mass performance entitled Music from a Thousand Strings.

You may wonder, so China doesn’t have orchestras, or bands before 1920s?

Of course not! Ancient Chinese orchestras existed since the Shang Dynasty (1600 – 1046 B.C) and was used at royal court and later during Confucian ceremonies. Click here to see what instruments the ancestors play back at that time!

About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide!”

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 15 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion via ChineseFashionStyle.com, Kungfu Fashion, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


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If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

Chinese Music 101 – Bayin: 8 Tones of Chinese Traditional Music

By Sari Xu

Before the rising of electronic music, even before the discovery of electricity, nature was where all the greatest music stems from. Despite of the differences among each ethnic group, Chinese people, all together have devised tons of traditional musical instruments that could be grouped into 8 categories based on their materials – silk, bamboo, wood, stone, metal, clay, gourd, and skin. Under each category, there must be something you are familiar with and something surprising!

Silk Instruments: silk instruments are mostly stringed instruments nowadays. Back at the ancient times, before the use of metal or nylon, the Chinese have used twisted silk for strings. They could be grouped into 3 categories: plucked, bowed, and struck. Some popular plucked musical instruments include Guzheng, Pipa and Sanxian. Others like Guqin(古琴), Se(瑟), Konghou(箜篌,harps), and Ruan(阮) are less popular nowadays but very typical in traditional music performance especially for solo. Outside of the greatest Han ethnic group, ethnic minorities also have their own stringed music with talented players. For example, in Uyghur traditional music of Xinjiang, Tembur, Dutar and Rawap are widely played and are either fretted or fretless plucked lute. It’s very easy to recognize them with their long neck and representative Uyghur patterns.

Xinjiang people have also devised some fancy bowed instruments such as Ghaychak, Sataer, and Ghushtar. Other ethnic groups like Mongolians and Zhuang people also got the talents in design and devised the “horsehead” fiddle Matouqin(马头琴) and Zhengni(筝尼), respectively. The most common bowed instruments include Erhu, Zhonghu, Jinghu, Banhu, etc. They could be together described as Huqin(胡琴), which refers to the family of vertical fiddles. Though plucked and bowed instruments each has a large family, there are comparatively fewer instruments under the “struck” category. The most representative one is Yangqin(扬琴), which is a hammered dulcimer commonly used in traditional Chinese music orchestra till today.

Bamboo Instruments: bamboo instruments, apparently, are instruments made of bamboo and usually refer to woodwind instruments like vertical flutes. Dizi, Xiao, Paixiao and Chi are some commonly played Chinese flutes worldwide. Other woodwind pipes could be categorized into free reed, single reed and double reed pipes. The most representative instruments in these 3 categories are Bawu, Mabu, and Suona respectively.

Wood Instruments:Most wood instruments are of the ancient variety. For example, Muyu (木鱼) is a rounded woodblock carved in the shape of a fish, and could be struck with a wooden stick. It’s mostly used in Buddhist chanting. Another example would be Bangzi(棒子), which is also a woodblock, smaller than Muyu and has a higher pitch.

Stone Instruments:Yes! Stones could also produce beautiful musical rhymes. Back at the ancient times, there were a range of stone chimes like Bianqing(编磬), Tezhong(特钟) and Qin(磬).

Metal Instruments: Metal instruments are mostly percussions. The two greatest categories here are Luo (Gong) and Bo.

Clay Instruments: Believe it or not, both wind and percussion instruments could be made of the clay! Xun is a typical wind ocarina made of baked clay, and Fou is a percussion instruments that could be played just in the way of playing the drum.

Gourd Instruments: gourds could also be used in music and Sheng and Hulusi are two representative wind instruments made of this “plant”!

Skin Instruments: Don’t be scared! Animal’s skin was commonly used to make the surfaces of drums. These include Dagu (“Gu” in Chinese means the drum), Jian’gu, Bangu, Biangu, Paigu, Huagu, Yaogu, Diangu, Yanggegu, Gaogu… and so on! Haha, this is such a big family!

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The Chinese Drum Family

Other than the 8 categories, instruments made from other unique materials do exist as well, and I promise these treasures, at least one of them, would be a big surprise! Next time, we’ll have some more discussion regarding each category of the Bayin (8 tones), as well as other traditional Chinese musical instruments! Stay tuned!

 

 

About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide!”

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 13 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion via ChineseFashionStyle.com, Kungfu Fashion, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

 

Muqam, the Living Fossils of Uyghur Music

The most prestigious and well-known genre of Uyghur music is the Muqam, consisting of poetic songs, stories and dance tunes. There are various forms of Muqam music in more than 20 different countries. However, the Muqam music in China Xinjiang Autonomous Region boasts the biggest in composition, longest in history and richest in forms among all the existing Muqam music.

Xinjiang Uyghur Muqam is a composite of songs, dances, folk music, and is characterized by its diversities of content, dance styles and musical instruments. It serves as a witness of cultural exchanges between the east and the west. Being the communication hub en route the Silk Road, Xinjiang experienced collision and melting of eastern and western cultures. Consequently, the development of Muqam, originated from the local people, has greatly taken on the influence of multi-culture. The Uyghur Muqam of Xinjiang has been designated by UNESCO as Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

 

 

Twelve Muqam , the Mother of Uyghur Music

 

The Xinjiang Uyghur Muqam has developed into four main styles, namely the Twelve Muqam, Turpan Muqam , Hami Muqam and Dolan Muqam. Twelve Muqam is known as the Mother of Uygur Music. Have you ever heard such a concert that takes one day and one night to play? The Twelve Muqam of Xinjiang’s Uygur people has 360 melodies, 4,000-plus lines of lyrics, and the whole set needs 24 hours to finish.

musical instruments

Legend has it in the mid-16th century, aided by other musicians, the imperial concubine Amannisahan of the Yarkant Kingdom, who was also an esteemed poetess and musician, devoted all her efforts to collect and compile Muqam music, which was then scattered across areas populated by Uyghur. She finally worked out 12 grand, yet entertaining compositions that are now known as the Twelve Muqam.
musical instruments

In 1940s, the economy of Xinjiang was in recession and people lived in poverty and the 12 Muqam was facing extinction. In1950s there was only one person who could sing the complete 12 Muqam. He was Turdi Ahun born in a musician’s family in Yengisar County. He mastered 12 Muqam at the age of 20. He then performed the musical suite for more than 50 years in Kashgar, Hotan and other places. He could perform with the musical instrument of Tanbor, Duttar, Satar and Rawap. His performance with Satar was rated as unique in Xinjiang Autonomous Region.

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The local government of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region made every effort possible to preserve the Twelve Muqam. In 1956, Muqam master Turdi Ahun and musician Wan Tongshu took great effort to record most of the vocal melodies and librettos of the Twelve Muqam. Their efforts paved the way for the renaissance of this cultural tradition. In 1960, two volumes of Twelve Muqam sung by Turdi Ahun were published. The oral cultural heritage was finally secured in the form of its first publication.

 

by Xiao Xiao @ InteractChina.com

 


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Music of the Uyghur

The Uyghur are a Turkic ethnic group living in Eastern and Central Asia. Today Uyghurs live primarily in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the People’s Republic of China. An estimated 80 % of Xinjiang’s Uyghurs live in the southwestern portion of the region, the Tarim Basin. Uyghur Musical Instruments The Uyghur have a great love of singing and dancing. They have been known for their vibrant music and ethnic dances since very ancient times. Music and dance occupy a significant place in life of the Uyghur. There are no holidays, parties and wedding festivities without music and dances. Uighur traditional songs are remarkable for their melodious originality.

 

Distinctive Uyghur Music

 

Uyghur Musical Instruments

Uyghur music embraces several distinct regional styles, product of the geography and complex history of the region, whose oasis kingdoms, separated by mountains and deserts, have been subject through the course of history to rule by many different outside forces.

 

The History of Uyghur Music

 

Uyghur Musical Instruments

Uyghur scholars trace the roots of their music back to the 11th century BC to the Di people who are referred to in the earliest of the Chinese dynastic annals, living to the north of China. And generally speaking, the historical flow of music has largely moved from west to east in the following centuries. While Chinese histories record the influence of the Western Region on central China, Uyghur music has historically absorbed much influence from the regions of Central Asia to the west, arriving along the famed Silk Road.

 

Distinct Regional Styles

 

Due to the particular geography of Xinjiang and the constant influence of one culture on another, musical styles have developed along different paths over the years, and each tradition is typical of its locality.

The musical traditions of the southern oasis towns of Khotan and Kashgar are more closely allied to the classical Central Asian traditions of Bukhara and Samarkand, while the music of the easternmost oasis town of Qumul has closer links to the music of Northwest China. Each of the region’s oasis towns have to this day maintained their own distinctive sound and repertoire, but they are linked by a common language and overarching culture, maintained by constant communication through trade and movement of peoples. Musically there is much to link these local traditions, in terms of instruments, genres, styles and contexts.

 

Traditional Uyghur Music

 

There are several kinds of traditional Uygur music, the most famous of which is the classic Uygur musical composition the “Twelve Muqam”, a major force in the development of Uygur folk music. Uyghur Musical Instruments

Another kind of Uygur music is called “Sanam,” or “beauty,” which involves singing and dancing to a group consisting of between seven to a dozen pieces of song-and-dance music. The music begins slowly and steadily, then picks up speed, and finally culminates in a climax of merry music and exuberant dances.

“Kuxak,” “Eytixish,” and “Maida” are spoken songs, which are common among the Uygur people. Accompanied by simple tunes, the speaker will talk his way through a song, usually about the love between a man and a woman. These songs can also be performed by two people.

by Xiao Xiao @ InteractChina.com

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