Shifan (Shifan gu, Shifan luogu)


Shifan (Shifan gu, Shifan luogu)
Traditional music genre
Shifan includes Shifan gu and Shifan luogu, two traditional drumming and blowing genres which flourished in the cities of Suzhou and Wuxi in the southern part of Jiangsu province. According to a late seventeenth-century book, Banqiao zaji, [Miscellaneous Notes on the Broad Bridge], written by Yu Huai (b. 1616), the two genres were already popular in the area during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644). Usually, local folk musicians, Daoist priests and Buddhist monks perform these two genres at funerals, weddings and birthday parties.
The two Shifan are in fact closely related. Both of their ensembles are almost the same as the basic ensemble which accompanies Kunqu opera. They include: dizi (bamboo flute), sheng (mouth-organ), xiao (bamboo recorder), sanxian and pipa (plucked lutes), banghu and erhu (two-stringed fiddles), gongs, drums and cymbals in different sizes (see luogu). Shifan gu is also called fanyin (pure music) or Sunan chuida (blowing and beating music from southern Jiangsu).
The leading instruments are dizi and drum. The repertoire of this genre can be divided into two categories: wind and string instrumental pieces, and solo drum pieces. A suite is composed of more than ten pieces, including one, two or three drum solos. Shifan luogu is also called shiyangjin (ten pieces of brocade) because of its colourful instrumentation, which includes: dichui luogu (type led by a flute), shengchui luogu (type led by a mouth-organ), cuxi sizhu luogu (type played by gruff-and-sharp Silk and Bamboo instruments) and qing luogu (type played only by percussion). Among them, the last is the most famous, and its formal structure is a cycle of variations and precomposed labelled percussion pieces.
Jones, Stephen (1995). Folk Music of China: Living Instrumental Traditions. Oxford: Clarendon.
Liang, Mingyue (1985). Music of the Billion. New York: Heinrichshofen.
DU YAXIONG

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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