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Home History and Culture Music of Xinjiang
Music of Xinjiang
Learn Chinese - History and Culture
Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region is dominated by Uighurs, Turkic people related to others from Central Asia. There is much variation in the music of Xinjiang, including unique regional differences in Ili, Kashi, Hotan and Aksu. The southern area includes the simple songs of Hotan, the dance-oriented music of the Kuga and the complexly rhythmic songs of the Kashgar. Ili has perhaps the most well-known musical tradition in Xinjiang, including a number of emotional tunes that are narrative in form.The Uighurs' best-known musical form is the On Ikki Muqam, a complex suite of twelve sections related to Uzbekistan| and Tajikistan forms. These complex symphonies vary wildly between suites in the same muqam, and are built on a seven-note scale. Instruments typically include dap (a drum), dulcimers, fiddles and lutes; performers have some space for personal embellishments, especially in the percussion. However, there is much variation on the number and kind of instruments used in the
performance of a muqam.

The sanam tradition is a kind of dance music popular among the Uighurs, while spoken songs like Maida, Eytixish and Kuxak are popular love songs with simple tunes.

Traditional folk instruments include the konghou and pipa, which were found in Qiuci during the Sui and Tang dynasties, and then spread to East Asia. The rawap, tanbur and dutar are three very important instruments in Uighur music; they are all strings and are respectively high-, middle- and low-pitched.

The most popular performer of recent times is Turdi Akhun, who recorded most of the muqams in the 1950s. A regional popular music industry arose in the 1980s, alongside Deng Xiaoping's loosening of cultural restrictions. The resulting pop industry produced bands like Shireli, whose 1995 "" was a reggaeish version of a local folk song. Later prominent musicians include Pasha Isha, Äskär and his band Grey Wolf (band), Abdulla Abdurehim and Alim Jan, who appeared in such international releases as the soundtrack to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, where he plays the stringed rawap. Jan's father was also a renowned folk musician, known as Tursun Tanbur due to his skill with the tanbur, a stringed instrument like a lock-necked lute. Rock and roll|Rock and Heavy metal music|heavy metal bands like Täklimakan and Riwäyat are also well-known in Xinjiang, as is the flamenco guitar stylings of the Gipsy Kings.

 

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