Ritual and Music of North China: Shawm Bands in Shanxi
The rich local traditions of musical life in rural China are still little known. Music-making in village society is largely ceremonial, and shawm bands account for a significant part of such music. This is the first major ethnographic study of Chinese shawm bands in their ceremon... read full description below.
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Description of this Book
The rich local traditions of musical life in rural China are still little known. Music-making in village society is largely ceremonial, and shawm bands account for a significant part of such music. This is the first major ethnographic study of Chinese shawm bands in their ceremonial and 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 DVD consists of a 47-minute film in two parts, showing excerpts from funerals and temple fairs (complementing Part Two of the text), while a separate section contains a magnificent 1992 funerary performance of a complete shawm-band suite. As a package, the book and DVD illuminate the whole ceremonial context of music-making in rural China, illustrating the ritual-music experience of villagers, with lay Daoist priests, opera troupes, and beggars also making cameo appearances. While the modern stage repertories of urban professionals remain our main exposure to Chinese music, 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.
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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.