By Jones, StephenSeries edited by Howard, Professor Keith
The rich local traditions of musical life of rural China are still little known. Music-making in village society is largely ceremonial, and shawm bands account for a major part of such music. This is the first major ethnographic study of Chinese shawm bands in their ceremonial an...d social context. Based in a poor county in Shanxi province in northwestern China, Stephen Jones describes the painful maintenance of ceremonial and its music there under Maoism, its revival with the market reforms of the 1980s and its modification under the assault of pop music since the 1990s. Part One of the text explains the social and historical background by outlining the lives of shawm band musicians in modern times. Part Two looks at the main performing contexts of funerals and temple fairs, whilst Part Three discusses musical features such as instruments, scales and repertories. The book is accompanied by a 50-minute DVD also in three parts. The first two parts show excerpts from funerals and temple fairs (complementing Part Two of the text), while the third part contains a magnificent 1992 funerary performance of a complete suite. As a package, the book and DVD illuminate the whole ceremonial context of music-making in rural China, illustrating the total ritual-music experience of villagers, with lay Daoist priests, opera troupes, and beggars also making cameo appearances. Indeed, while the modern stage repertories of urban professionals remain our main exposure to Chinesemusic, this publication is all the more valuable in showing the daily musical experiences of the majority of people in China. It will appeal to ethnomusicologists, anthropologists and all those interested in modern Chinese history and society.Read more
Dr Stephen Jones has carried out fieldwork on local traditions of Chinese music since 1986. He is author of Folk Music of China: Living Instrumental Traditions (1995/1998) and Plucking the Winds: Lives of Village Musicians in Old and New China (2004). A Research Associate in the Department of Music at SOAS, University of London, Stephen Jones is also a violinist in London early music ensembles.
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