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Home History and Culture Derivation of National Orchestral Music
Derivation of National Orchestral Music
Learn Chinese - History and Culture
More than 2,000 years ago, there were many instruments in China, including bell, chime, drum and Xun (an egg-shaped, holed wind instrument). In the Zhou Dynasty (11th century - 771BC) and Spring and Autumn (770-476BC) and Warring States (475-221BC) period, the instruments totaled 80 kinds. During the period of the Qin Dynasty (221-206BC), the Han Dynasty (206BC-25AD), the Three Kingdoms (220-280), the Jin Dynasty (317-420), the Southern and Northern Dynasties (386-589) and Sui (581-618) and Tang Dynasties (618-907), there appeared instruments of Hengchui (like today's bamboo flute), Qiangdi (a musical instrument of the Qiang), Bi, bronze drum and waist drum, etc. They were all key instruments in national orchestral music.

There appeared more wind instruments, plucked string instruments and bowed string instruments during the period of the Five Dynasties (907-960), the Song Dynasty (960-1279), the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368), the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

National Orchestral Music was well developed in ancient times. The most influential orchestras in history are wind music (Guchuiyue) in the Han Dynasty and Yanyue in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). The first one mainly consists of percussion instruments and the latter one focuses on tender music.

Traditional Chinese ensemble instrumental music has diverse origins, and forms of arrangement, performance and transmission. Generally speaking,geographic origin is its most distinguishing characteristic: Percussion and wind ensembles native to the northern region include Xi'an percussion and wind, Shanxi Province's Badatao, the orchestras of central Hebei Province, southwest Shandong Province's percussion and wind, Liaoning Province's percussion and wind and the Shipan music of Luoyang City. Native to the south are the gongs and drums of eastern Zhejiang Province, the shiln gongs and drums of southern Jiangsu Province and Fuzhou, the Longchui of Quanzhou and the Shifan of southwest Fujian Province. In the string and wind category are the Southern Tunes of Fujian, the poetry accompanied on string instruments of Chaozhou, Guangdong Music, the string and wind music of south of the Yangtze River and the northern string music.

The distribution of the artistic groups that played the various types of Chinese folk music was connected with the system of managing music of the feudal imperial court. Generally speaking, the locations of the imperial capitals in ancient times are the centers of the transmission, orchestras and maestros of folk music today. For example, Xi'an percussion music dates from the days when Xi'an was the capital of the Tang Dynasty; the Daxiangguo Temple music of Kaifeng emerged when that city was the capital of the Song Dynasty; and the Zhihua Temple music of Beijing and the wind orchestra music of Hebei Province have associations with the days when Beijing was the capital of the Liao, Jin, Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties.

Hebei's Chengde City, which is not far from Beijing, was the summer resort of the Qing emperors, and local musicians can still play the court music of that time, despite the fact that the dynasty disappeared long ago. This makes it easy to understand why so many farmer-musicians can have such comparatively high artistic attainments. This is an important component of the Chinese people's musical artistry.

Among the diverse musical instruments in China, those from the ethnic minorities also hold an important position, such as northwest orchestras that perform On Illi Muqam, the southwest Lusheng orchestras that use various kinds of Lusheng (reed-pipe wind instrument), and north orchestras that use horse-head stringed instrument, traditional Chinese four-stringed fiddle, Chinese trichord sanxian and so on. The forms of these orchestras are also employed by local orchestras.

With the development of national orchestral music after the founding of the People's Republic of China, some new-type national musical orchestras gradually emerged. They reflect the fine Chinese tradition and feature distinct uniqueness in sound effects and tamber. New national orchestras continue to play important roles, and have embarked on the world stage.


二千多年以前,中国已有很多的乐器:钟、磬、鼓、埙、铃等等,到了周代(约公元前1066——公元前771)和春秋战国时期(公元前475——公元前221)发展到了八十多种。秦(公元前221—— 公元前206)、汉(公元前206——公元前23)、三国(公元220——公元280)、晋(公元317——公元412)、南北朝(公元420——公元581)、隋唐期间(公元581——公元907),由于各族人民频繁的交流,又增加了横吹(现在的笛)、羌笛(现在的箫)、曲项琵琶(今琵琶的前身)、筚 (现在的管子)、铜鼓、腰鼓、羯鼓等等,这些都成为现代民族乐器中的重要乐器。五代(公元907——公元979)、宋(公元960——公元1279)、元(公元1279——公元1368)、明(公元1368——公元1644)、清时期(公元1644——公元1911),由于民间文艺的兴起又出现了打击乐器:云锣、八角鼓、点鼓、小木鱼、梆子,吹奏乐器:唢呐,弹拔乐器:三弦、扬琴,拉弦乐器:二胡、板胡、京胡、坠胡等等。乐器更为齐全。







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