Continuing on the path of introducing my fascination for Chinese musical instruments, I have yet another treat for you. In fact they are the instruments used in traditional Beijing Opera which have recently captured my attention. According my studies, the wide array of instruments used has the unified purpose of creating a magical and intensive feeling during the performance. It is said to require a lifetime of hard training and dedication to become a skillful Peking Opera musician.
The music is known to vary between everything from fast tempo to slow ballads, from dark tunes to happy flute solos. This broad range in tone levels takes the audience into a magical journey of strong ancient emotions. The musical instruments themselves are divided into two categories, orchestra and percussion.
Percussion instruments are used to create that intensive feeling during the show. Clappers from hardwood and drums, cymbals as well as gongs of different types all play together to surround the audience in suspense. The castanets in the music can set the tempo of the performance, so that the rest of the instruments follow their rhythm. Indeed these mood enhancing instruments are known as the “military instruments”.
The next group also belonging to the “civil instruments” are the string instruments accompanied with the Suona horn. Jinghu and Erhu are said to be the two most important string instruments in Beijing Opera. According to one tale, the play is so beautiful that they are able to capture the hearts of lovers or even kill men.
In addition to these two groups the atmosphere is enhanced with a majestic presence through various gongs and rums. While they are not used in all performances, due to more rare usage they tend to leave a great impression when actually used.
This Summer I should have the opportunity of visiting the marvelous city of Beijing. Naturally I am looking forward to going to see the famous Peking Opera at the Liyuan Theatre. Once I hit the land of the Beijing Duck, I will certainly report from my musical adventures there.