Monday, April 1, 2013

Music From Around the World: China

This week we'll be listening to a selection of traditional Chinese music during class. China has a very long and incredibly rich musical tradition dating back some 7,000-8,000 years. Traditional Chinese music has a thin texture (with only one singer or instrument or a small group at a time.) Music was once considered a very private activity, useful for healing and the cultivation of the mind, and public musicians were once not very well respected. Of course, times have changed, and now music is much more openly and publicly shared.

  This week's important terms are:

1. Pentatonic Scale: A series of five pitches. The traditional Chinese pentatonic scale uses a particular series of half and whole steps, reflected in the white key pitches C D E G and A.

2. Heterophony: A melody played at one time by more than one instrument or singer, with each performer introducing slight variations

3. Numeric Notation (Jianpu): A way of writing music in which each pitch in a scale is given a number.

4. Erhu: Traditional stringed instrument held upright ( see one here:

5. Yanquin: Traditional instrument resembling a hammer dulcimer (see one here:

6. Pipa: Traditional instrument resembling a guitar (see one here:

  We'll be learning to play a traditional Chinese pentatonic scale this week so that you can create your own beautiful melodies. You might want to try writing your melody in Jianpu for an added challenge!

 This amazing performance sponsored by the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a wonderful introduction to traditional Chinese instruments. 

Many traditional Chinese melodies depict peaceful scenes of nature and natural events, and has often been viewed as an integral part of medicine. Do you think music can have a healing effect on the body and mind? Why or why not?

No comments:

Post a Comment