Chinese Musicking

7 July 2016

?3. Research on an aspect of Chinese musicking based on one or two Chinese musical activities or events that take place anywhere in the world except for countries where “Chinese” is spoken as one of the main languages (which means that you are not to write about musical events or activities in China, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau etc. ). Check with the lecturer before writing, if unsure Musicking basically refers to taking part, in any capacity, in a musical performance; whether by performing, listening, rehearsing, practicing, or providing material for the performance.

Anybody who contributes to the nature of the event is involved in the musicking event; and this involves the cleaners, roadies, ticket collectors, ushers and many more. In this paper, we will be focusing in depth, Beijing Opera as a Chinese musicking event in Vienna Golden Hall. Beijing opera plays are currently experiencing a rise in popularity in the West as evident by Beijing Opera troupes making their performance tours in Europe. Some of these troupes include ‘”Peking Opera”,……. In this paper, I will only be focusing on the performance of the???

Chinese Musicking Essay Example

(li hua song) by ??? (shi yi hong) in the Golden Hall of Vienna. Vienna, also known as the City of Music, is where grand scale musical concerts are held. Musicians who are performing or had performed there are deemed as “extraordinary” and are mostly well-renowned. The performance of Beijing Operas in Vienna has shown how far Beijing Opera has progressed throughout the years; from being only well-known in the East all the way to staging a performance in the prestigious concert halls of Vienna.

Beijing Opera is a traditional Chinese theatre which combines music, vocal performance, mime, dance, and acrobatics1. It started becoming popular in the 19th century, especially in the Qing dynasty, and since then, many opera troupes began budding in all parts of China. In Beijing Opera, costumes distinguish the rank of the role played2. And the colors painted onto the performers’ faces symbolizes the different qualities of the characters3. The skills of the performers is based on how beautiful their moves are, and the

layers of meaning within each movement must be expressed in time with music. For e. g. The smoothing of one’s beard, raising one’s foot, walking around in circles, are all movements that are meant to express a particular feeling or emotion. The performers require music to indicate the duration and speed of a certain movement, and the transition to another. In Beijing Opera, there will normally be 2 orchestras, playing the percussions and strings respectively. They will accompany the singing, which follows a fixed pattern, but has a variety of melodies and rhythms4.

Beijing Opera represents an important part of Chinese culture and has become a refined form of art as a result of the hard work of hundreds of artists over the past two centuries. Its repertoire includes historical plays, comedies, tragedies and farces. Many historical events are adapted into Beijing Opera plays, which in the past were an important primer on history and ethical principles for poorly educated folk5. For e. g. The Peking Opera Red Cliff is based on true events in the Three Kingdoms where Liu Bei and Sun Quan form an alliance to defeat Cao Cao.

Beijing Opera thus serves as a platform to educate people on the history and culture of ancient China in an entertaining and interactive way. It is also a method to preserve and facilitate the passing down of Chinese culture from generation to generation. As seen in the YouTube video, the Beijing Opera is actually a fusion between the East and the West. Normally in Beijing Opera, the music used would be purely produced from Chinese instruments such as Luo, Bo, Jinghu, Pipa, Dizi and Yue Qin.

However, in this particular Beijing Opera performed in Golden Hall, the music used is produced mainly from Western instruments like Violin, Double bass, Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, and Bassoon, with a few complementary Chinese instrument like erhu. There is also a conductor leading the orchestra in playing the music required for the performer. This is a scene seldom seen in Beijing Opera as the main focus would be on the performers and the musicians would be at the side and is considered “negligible”.

However, in this Chinese musicking event in Vienna, both the musicians and the performer are equally important. Since the music used in this context is no longer purely “Chinese”, then should Beijing Opera in this case still be considered a Chinese musicking event? Well, some might argue not because Chinese musicking obviously refers to a performance involving the use of Chinese instruments only. Personally I think that it should still be considered. Firstly, because Beijing Opera budded from China and it has been prospering there ever since 19th century.

Secondly, it is a troupe consisting mainly of Chinese artistes, and the songs are sang in Chinese lyrics; mainly based on characters and plots in the ancient Chinese dynasties. For e. g. ???? (Gui fei zui jiu) and ???? (Tai zhen wai chuan) are based on the story of Yang Gui Fei in Tang Dynasty. Since Beijing Opera is currently trying to venture into the West, it needs to more or less modify and fuse with some of the Western elements so that the Westerners are more receptive towards this “new” type of performance, and in this case, it is the “East-West fusion” of Beijing Opera music.

The modified Beijing Opera in this context, is still considered Chinese musicking in the sense that Chinese culture and message is conveyed through this “musicking” event. In conclusion, Beijing opera is a chinese musicking event where chinese music is used as a pace and rhythm for the performers to convey the underlying message, which is the chinese heritage and culture, to the audiences. Even as it goes on to influence people in the West, the main essence of this chinese musicking event has not changed, though there might be some modifications or “East-West” fusion observed in the opera.

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