Title: Alan Lomax and Wei Fa Chung discuss Chinese traditional and folk music (part 2)
Date recorded: 1993
Date recorded: 1993
Physical form: Cassette Tape
Tape number: T3896
Track Number: 2
Archive ID: T3896b
Belongs to: Chung/Lomax, 1993
Note: There was a popular (i.e., folk) music program in the conservatory in China but it was interrupted by the Cultural Revolution. It employed two artists, one a trained musician and one a folk artist, and was popular. Word confusion: "traditional" in China implies classical music, not folk. Folk traditions are still alive. There is drum playing during the spring festivals and there is a big repertoire of local Chinese opera performances. Performing groups are not professional. Peasants prefer music with words and a plot. Instruments are used to imitate words. Alan Lomax: In the American South when they want to praise and instrumentalist, they say "He can make that instrument talk." Do they use dialects? Chung doesn't know. Alan asks about the music. Chung: China is now accepting the capitalist system because "our system was not working." Singers from Hong Kong imitate Western styles, beautiful girls dancing around and so forth, but "we have a wealth of music and should bring it out." Alan Lomax: Problem is selecting what people will like. That ought to be our task. In the long run politics is just a little part of culture. Ethnomusicological conferences here are small, isolated, purely academic societies. In the USA we believe in specialists. They are nice people but sometimes discouraging about positive actions. Chung: In China we have people who are in the field, not all scholars, but local people. Only normal colleges have music departments. She would like to see more academic study of music| Alan Lomax would like to see less. Alan Lomax says relationship of tone languages (such as Chinese) to music ought to be studied. Songs are more eloquent than prose - example: "Barbara Allen." Demonstrates a clip of very dramatic high-pitched singing. African Bushmen singing is low pitched but has lots of high overtones. Chung: In northern China the arable season is short and women did not go out into the fields much, before and even after, the revolution. They raised pigs and chickens and carried buckets of water. Harmony is not rare in these parts. Alan Lomax: One of our strongest correlations is between polyphony and the presence of women [in the economy]. Although what may be true in 83% of the cases is not true for the remaining 17%. Sample of Chinese music with drums. Chung: These drums are played by students, played while dancing. [Sound quality of recording is poor.]
Rights: The rights to the audio, photographic, and video materials contained within the Lomax Digital Archive are administered by various publishers, record labels, collectors, estates, and other rights holders. Any uses, commercial or not, must be cleared by the specific rights holders. For questions regarding the use of any material on the LDA, please contact Permissions.
About the session: Alan Lomax and Wei Fa Chung, concert pianist and Wesleyan ethnomusicology student, discuss Chinese traditional and folk music
Do you have something to add, or do you see an error in this record? We'd love to hear from you.