Although taiwanese was the native language of most of

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Unformatted text preview: rspersed with singing and instrumental sections and a variety of action, including dance, comical slapstick, acrobatics, and stylized battle. The repertory is divided into two groups of plays – wu and wen – distinguished by subject matter and style of performance. The wu refers to military subjects that are based on old stories and legends that emphasize heroic action and intrigue, and often contain spectacular battle scenes. Wen are civic and love stories and deal with daily social problems. Sometimes the two styles are combined in a single play. Crossroads: Music of American Cultures (Barkley) Kendall Hunt Publishers, 2013 13 Actors are primarily categorized by character (as opposed to vocal range, which is the norm for European opera). There are the Sheng (the main male characters), the Dan (the female characters), the Jing (the warriors, bandits, statesmen or gods), and the Chou (the male comic roles). Each category of character has certain conventions in terms of costumes, hand gestures, facial painting, and stylized singing. Without proper instruction and study of the conventions, jingju can be completely bewildering. The instrumental ensemble that accompanies the production consists of two components. The wenchang ensemble plays melodic music, and is composed mostly of string and wind instruments. Its main purpose is to provide introductions to the arias, to double the vocal melodic lines, and to play music during some of the action sections. The music the wenchang provides is made up of over 50 “stock” and named rhythmic patterns that are combined in ways to indicate specific moods and dramatic situations. The wuchang ensemble provides rhythmic accompaniment, and consists of percussion instruments. There are five principal instruments: the danpigu (a single- headed drum), ban (a paired wooden clapper), daluo (large gong), xialuo (small gong), and naoba (small cymbals). These core instrumental ensembles are augmented with other instruments as needed. Listening Example: The Battle of Taiping, Cheng Junmou Post- Cultural Revolution Beijing Opera During the Cultural Revolution (1966- 1976), a period in which political radicals with Mao’s support aimed to enforce som and remove everything associated with the old, exploitive aristocracy and western capitalism, jingju was targeted as an example of decadence. Jingju performers were persecuted, and many were killed or committed suicide. Mao’s wife, Jiang Qing had been an actress and supervised the “updating” of Beijing opera. The reformers changed opera texts and conventions such as kowtowing and other gestures of humiliation while also developing modern operas on contemporary themes such as stories from the Revolution or class struggle. Performers wore modern costumes rather than the elaborate costumes evoking history, and Western instruments were frequently added to (or completely replaced) the traditional instruments. Listening Example: The Communist Party and Chairman Mao Lead the People to Revolt When Mao died in 1976, his successor, Deng Xiao Ping eased some of the restrictions on jingju and the older styles were once again performed along with the newer, “Revolutionary” style operas. Today, although older Chinese often still enjoy both kinds of Beijing opera, younger people born after the Cultural Revolution have less appreciation for the traditional music and instead have become more interested in popular music. In fact, one Chinese student told me that when he listened to Beijing opera, it sounded to him like toddlers given free rein to beat on pots and pans, and that Crossroads: Music of American Cultures (Barkley) Kendall Hunt Publishers, 2013 14 he was much more interested in Western classical and Western and Chinese popular music. Let us therefore turn our attention to popular music. Popular...
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