pentatonic romanticism


pentatonic romanticism
Pentatonic romanticism is a musical style that couples pentatonic melodies (melodies based on a five-tone scale without semitones) evocative of Chinese folk music with harmonic structures reminiscent of late nineteenth-century Western art music. Compositions written in this style are often composed for Western-style chamber, symphonic and vocal ensembles. Prominent among composers of pentatonic romanticism are the Hong-Kong based composers Ling Shengshi (1915–91) Huang Yauti (b. 1912), Wong Yokyee (b. 1924) and Shi Kumpor (b. 1932).
Pentatonic romanticism must be understood in its historical and social context.
Under a variety of political circumstances and social conditions, composers from mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong have sought to create distinctly Chinese concert music—often by combining Western and Chinese musical techniques or ideas. In some cases the ‘Chineseness’ of a composition is found in programmatic or extramusical references. In other cases a Chinese musical identity is conveyed by the use of Chinese instruments. Pentatonic romanticism, however, represents a distinct stylistic response by mainly Hong Kong composers to the need for a national voice on local and international concert stages. Moreover, it is a response that consciously locates a national identity in the sound structures themselves. This compositional approach uses Western instrumentation and harmonies, but relies primarily on pentatonic melodies to communicate a sense of Chineseness.
Mittler, Barbara (1996). ‘Mirrors and Double Mirrors: The Politics of Identity in New Music from Hong Kong and Taiwan’ Chime 9:46–56.
JAMES DALE WILSON

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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