Friday, August 27, 2010

Nanyin , the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Xiamen and Quanzhou

Magic Haijing, Xiamen Hotels First Blog Present:


the Intangible Cultural Heritage of the world

living fossil of ancient Chinese music

In Xiamen and Quanzhou, Nanyin Music has close ties with ancient imperial music,Buddhist music, poetic rhythm, and drama tune. For hundreds of years it has been handed down by oral instruction and spread from Quanzhou to other parts of Fujian,Taiwan Province, and among overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia and Europe.

Also known as "string and pipe music" or "Quanzhou nanyin music", nanyin music is one of the oldest existing music genres of China. In the Western and Eastern Han Dynasties, and the Jin, Tang and the Northern and Southern Dynasties, immigrants from the central plains brought their music culture with them to Quanzhou-oriented Minnan area. Their music fused with local folk music, becoming a new genre with the charm of ancient music of the central plains.
Nanyin music is a combination of various musical elements, including the essence of yayue music of the central plains popular since the flourishing period of the Tang Dynasty, the good qualities of Yuan songs, Yiyang Opera and Kun Opera, and the folk music of Minnan. As such, nanyin music is a beautiful genre that is soft and smooth in both lyrics and melodies. It is perfect for expressing heartfelt feelings of homesickness and yearning sentiment of a person traveling far away from home.

The main instrument used in nanyin music is the vertical bamboo flute, also known as "end blown flute", which measures 0.6m in length and has ten holes and nine sections. The flute, following the Tang Dynasty tone system, sounds deep and rich. Another instrument accompanying nanyin tunes is the pipa (the southern pipa), which is held horizontally when playing, unlike the vertically- held northern pipa. The southern pipa is quite similar to those held by the music-playing flying fairies of Kaiyuan Temple in Quanzhou and by the flying goddess in Dunhuang murals. The erxian (or two-string fiddle) used in nanyin music is pretty much like the xiqin (a bowed string instrument) of the Wei and Jin Dynasties, and the clappers are the same as the jie clappers of pre-Tang period. Nanyin music tunes are sung in Minnan dialect retaining lots of ancient words and melodies of the central plains.

Nanyin music of Quanzhou is a complete music system made up of three parts—dapu (scores), sanqu (individual tunes) and zhitao (suites involving fingering). The three parts are commonly known as "zhi, pu, and qu". Zhitao refers to relatively complete suites containing lyrics, scores and fingering (pipa fingering), with each suite including two to seven individual tunes. There are 50 suites in all and the most famous suites are entitled Coming Naturally, A Love Letter, Enjoying Festive Lanterns, Heart-wrenching, and All for You respectively.

"Pu" or "score" refers to a titled suite for musical instruments, including pipa fingering. It has no lyrics and mainly played by the pipa, vertical bamboo flute, the erxian, and sanxian (a three-stringed plucked instrument). Each suite contains three to ten or more tune patterns. There are 16 major suites, most of which feature seasonal scenery, flowers, birds, insects, and galloping horses etc. The four most famous suites include the Scenery of Four Seasons, the Plum Flower Tune, Eight Steeds and a Hundred Birds Returning to Their Nests.

Sanqu or an individual tune, also known as "caoqu", is a tune meant for singing but not narrating. The tune, including scores and lyrics, is usually sung to the four main accompanying instruments of the pipa, vertical bamboo flute, the erxian, and sanxian. The content of these tunes are mainly in three categories—motion expressing, scenery depicting and story telling. The lyrics are mainly based on the Tang-Dynasty legends, and scripts for storytellers, as well as on opera stories of the Song, Yuan and Ming Dynasties about outstanding figures. Popular pieces include Precipitous Mountains, Going out of the Han Pass, Making an Appointment, and Yin Seeing off his Elder Brother and Sister-in-law etc.
Nanyin music of Quanzhou is a cultural form much favored by masses of people, who use it for self cultivation and enjoyment. It is closely related to Minnan people's lives. In the area, it's quite common to see families gathering together to sing nanyin tunes. The singing scenes can be found almost everywhere. Nanyin music is a best choice for enthusiasts of the genre to meet new friends and to express their feelings.

In Xiamen , Nanyin also maintained , in Zhongshan Park near Millennium Harbourview Hotel Xiamen , the huge Xiamen Nanyin Park was constructed inside, about 2000 sqaure metres wide.    Every Sunday , a free Nanyin show is given to the public as the  education and maintenance of the ancient relic of Art.

Nanyin Opera, the most ancient opera back to Tang Dynasty with a history of thousands of years. A poem written by China's famous poet Li Bai of Tang danysty.

The lyric is:
Li Bai

See how the Yellow River's waters move out of heaven.
Entering the ocean, never to return.
See how lovely locks in bright mirrors in high chambers,
Though silken-black at morning, have changed by night to snow.
...Oh, let a man of spirit venture where he pleases
And never tip his golden cup empty toward the moon!
Since heaven gave the talent, let it be employed!
Spin a thousand pieces of silver, all of them come back!
Cook a sheep, kill a cow, whet the appetite,
And make me, of three hundred bowls, one long drink!
...To the old master, Cen,
And the young scholar, Danqiu,
Bring in the wine!
Let your cups never rest!
Let me sing you a song!
Let your ears attend!
What are bell and drum, rare dishes and treasure?
Let me be forever drunk and never come to reason!
Sober men of olden days and sages are forgotten,
And only the great drinkers are famous for all time.
...Prince Chen paid at a banquet in the Palace of Perfection
Ten thousand coins for a cask of wine, with many a laugh and quip.
Why say, my host, that your money is gone?
Go and buy wine and we'll drink it together!
My flower-dappled horse,
My furs worth a thousand,
Hand them to the boy to exchange for good wine,
And we'll drown away the woes of ten thousand generations!


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