Beijing yinyue

Beijing yinyue
(Capital/Beijing music)
Regional traditional music genre
Beijing music is Buddhist instrumental music played by a wind and percussion band (see drumming and blowing). Its repertoire includes over one hundred labelled melodies (qupai), which musicians arrange into suites of ten or more tunes. The musical instruments used are two cylindrical reed-pipes (guanzi), double mouth-organs (sheng), two bamboo flutes (dizi), two frames of gongs (yunluo), and percussion, including cymbals, drums and a small gong, called dangzi. This genre, which originated in the Beijing area, is historically related to the palace ceremonial music and Buddhist music used by the imperial family. In the twentieth century it was played not only by Buddhist monks in the temples of Beijing, but also by many local musicians within the rural triangular area whose points are Beijing, Tianjin and Baoding. As a ceremonial music, it is played mainly for funerals and various other ceremonies, such as praying for rain and driving ghosts and spirits out from villages. Pieces in the repertoire can be played independently, but they are usually grouped into suites having four parts. Since music accompanies a ceremony, the suites must necessarily fit the length of the ritual steps, resulting in pieces of variable length. All pieces of Beijing music are essentially pentatonic; there is no contrast from phrase to phrase or from one section to another.
Ensemble ‘harmony’ is emphasized over individual achievement.
Jones, Stephen and Xue, Yibing (1991). ‘The Music Associations of Hebei Province, China’. Ethnomusicology 35.1:1–29.
Yang, Yinliu (1981). Zhongguo gudai yinyue shigao [Draft History of Ancient Chinese Music]. 2 vols. Beijing: Renmin yinyue chubanshe.
——(1996). ‘The Capital Music of the Zhinhua Temple’. Sonus 17.1:20–6.
Yuan, Jingfang (1999). Yuezhongxue [A Study of Instrumental Music Genres], Beijing: Huayue chubanshe.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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