In the reign of Emperor Wu of Han (140-87 BC) , the Music Conservatory was given a great deal of attention, and its work flourished.
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It collected folk songs from a wide area of China, including Zhao, Dai, Qin and Chu (corresponding to the modern Shaanxi, Shanxi, Hebei, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Anhui and Jiangsu provinces). It also recruited dozens of the empire's leading literary figures, including Sima Xiangru, to create poems and fu verses, as well as songs, set to Music by Li Yannian. The latter came from a musical family in the Zhongshan region, and he was well versed in China's musical tradition. His younger sister, who was an accomplished dancer, became a favorite of Emperor Wu, and through her influence Li Yannian received the title Xielu Duwei. Although this was only a temporary promotion to a routine position, Li Yannian was able to exercise his musical talent to the full. Xielu meant the creation and performance of music. Li Yannian was adept at composing Music and revising new compositions. His works were referred to as "new sounds", "new sound tunes" or "new changed sounds".
From the time of Emperor Wu, the Music Conservatory grew by leaps and bounds. In its early days, it provided 70 boy and girl entertainers for imperial banquets, accompanied by an orchestra. But it was not long before it had a contingent of over 800. In 7 BC, the Music Conservatory was abolished, most of the personnel dismissed being singers and musicians from the regions, with the others allocated to Ya yue duties. The influence of the Music Conservatory was great for 200 years, especially in the 100 years which followed the reign of Emperor Wu, and Although the name of the Music Conservatory was not preserved, later generations had corresponding institutions, and called the types of songs which resembled those that the Music Conservatory had collected "Music Conservatory" songs.
The most famous form of songs collected by the Music Conservatory was called Xianghe ge. These were songs originally unaccompanied by music, and usually sung by one person, with others joining in as the song progressed. On this basis, string and reed instrument accompaniment was added. As these instruments often alternated with one another, the songs came to be known as Xianghe ge, signifying this fact. At that time, the orchestra consisted of zithers (qin, se and zheng), lutes (pipa), whistles(di), pan pipes (sheng) and flute (chi). To complete the ensemble, the singer would beat time on a drum. Some Xianghe ge would keep the same tune throughout; others were divided into two or more sections, called jie. As the structure of the Xianghe ge was comparatively grand, they were called Daqu, or "big tunes". Sometimes, there was an introductory part, called yan, and a concluding part, called qu or luan. This type of structure enabled the Music to express fairly complex contents and emotions. The Xianghe ge had several different kinds of clearly defined keys, and it was indicated which key the Music should be in. Although we know from pre-Qin instruments and written records that different tones were recognized in Chinese Music in ancient times, we do not know what they were called until the Xianghe ge appeared. The names of the five basic tones of the Xianghe ge were ping, qing, se, chu and ce. The first three were exclusively used in the Qingshang Music of the Jin Dynasty (265-420), being known as the "Three Qingshang Tones".
More about Chinese Music
- Daqu of Tang Dynasty
The form of Daqu which developed during the Tang Dynasty was linked to musical exchanges with other nationalities.
- Music Conservatory
In the reign of Emperor Wu of Han (140-87 BC) , the was given a great deal of attention, and its work flourished.
- Primitive Music
Primitive music was inseparably connected with dancing.
- Recital and Singing
The Ming and Qing dynasties saw an increasingly rich crop of dramatic recital and singing, and music, these being the two main forms of theatrical technique.
- Rite Music of Zhou
The Zhou Dynasty was the first dynasty to lay down rules of "rites" (sacrificial ceremonies, court protocol, etc.) and "music" (music and dancing which accompanied ceremony).
- Shang Dynasty Music
This period of history spans the Shang and Western Zhou dynasties, the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods and up until the time the Qin Dynasty united China about 1,300 years.
- Sui and Tang Music
The ones which had a fairly great influence on later generations were the crooked-necked pipa and the bili, and the percussion instruments clappers, gongs and cymbals.
- Zaju and South Opera
Zaju first appeared in the Tang Dynasty.