History of Chinese Music - Page 3
Among the many genres of Chinese music is a form of music drama often called Chinese opera. Formerly these operas were based on old tales of heroes and the supernatural. Today the stories often deal with heroes of the Communist revolution or with great historical events of the recent past. The first fully developed form of Chinese opera, called northern drama, or beiqu, emerged during the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368). During the Ming (1368-1644) and Qin (1644-1912) dynasties, southern drama, also called xiwen, flourished and underwent much stylistic development. The variety of Chinese opera known as Peking opera, jingxi, is the most familiar in the West. It developed in the 19th century as a synthesis of earlier provincial forms.
During the first half of the 20th century Chinese music was considerably influenced by the music of the West. Three major schools of thought arose in response to this influence. The first school aimed at reviving the old thousand-piece orchestras that once delighted ancient princes and sages and resisted the influence of Western music. The second school concerned itself almost exclusively with Western music. The last school of Chinese music took great pride in traditional Chinese musical culture but did not hesitate to apply it to Western techniques of composition and performance.
During the 1950s Western influence penetrated Chinese music to an unprecedented extent. The Chinese Communist regime, established in 1949, gave special prominence to Russian music. Whether China can assimilate Western influence and still maintain a fundamentally Chinese musical culture remains an unanswered question, but the evidence seems to indicate that a synthesis will eventually develop. In contemporary China notable facilities exist for the training of musicians in both Chinese and Western styles. Many symphonic orchestras and Chinese-style instrumental ensembles exist, and large choral groups are commonly found in large cities, universities, and factories. Both Chinese and Western instruments are manufactured in large quantities and are used in government-maintained schools and conservatories throughout the country.