Nanyin: Song of The Ethereal Strings
Performers: Wu Shaochuan, Zhou Chengzai, Zhuang Lifen, Xiao Peiling et al
Nanyin, or “Southern Tunes,” is one of the oldest surviving forms of Chinese music. It is known by many names, such as xianguan (string and wind music), Quanzhou nanyin (Southern Tunes of Quanzhou), Nanqu (Southern Song), Nanyue (Southern Music), Langjunyue (music of Meng Chang) etc.. It is performed by an ensemble made up of players of pipa and sanxian on the right, players of dongxiao and erxian on the left, and singers holding clappers in the middle. The Nanyin repertoire encompasses over 2000 instrumental and vocal pieces, which retain elements of the musical cultures of the Jin, Sui, and Tang dynasties, court music as well as of Buddhist ritual music. Standard Nanyin is performed in the classical Quanzhou dialect, which preserves the sounds of ancient Central Plains Chinese. In vocal delivery, the emphasis is on clear enunciation, with end notes ‘closing’ according to the tone of the word. Musically, Nanyin is elegant, slow-paced, subtly but deeply expressive, and at the same time exudes an antiquated charm. It was inscribed onto the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2009.
Guqin: Flowing Water
Performer: Gong Yi (Representative Exponent of An Intangible Cultural Heritage at National Level)
The Chinese string instrument guqin is also known as qin (lute), qixianqin (seven-stringed lute), luqi or sitong. While the guqin as an instrument was standardized by the Han Dynasty at the latest, the art of its performance has been continually refined by practitioners and literati up to the present. The unique art and rich culture of the guqin was inscribed onto the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2003.
Nong-ak, Farmers’ Dance of China’s Korean Ethnic Group: Celebrating a Bumper Harvest
Performers: Jin Mingchun (Representative Exponent of An Intangible Cultural Heritage at National Level), Li Zhefan, Dong Zhu et al
The Farmers’ Dance of China’s Korean Ethnic Group, called Nong-ak in its original vernacular, is a folk art that combines music, dance and singing. Its origins can be traced to the ancient Korean custom of “stomping earth” during heaven-worship rituals. The Farmers’ Dance includes twelve components, such as the small drum dance, hourglass drum dance, round drum dance, and elephant hat dance. In the latter, a representative scene of the entire Farmers’ Dance, young men perform amazing stunts with ribbon streamers attached to their hats. The Farmers’ Dance of the Korean Ethnic Group was inscribed onto the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2009.
Manas Epic Narrative Performance: Manas the Hero, We Love to Sing Manas
Performers: Saritahong Haderahong (Representative Exponent of An Intangible Cultural Heritage at National Level), Maiderbaike Makan et al
Manas is an epic poem of the Kyrgyz ethnic group. It narrates the heroic deeds of Manas and his descendants of seven generations in leading the Krygyz in battling foreign invaders and other evil forces. As a symbol of the strength of character and unity of the Krygyz people, Manas has absorbed elements from ancient epics and folk literature, becoming a repository of Krygyz literature and an encyclopedia of Krygyz folk culture. It was inscribed onto the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2009.
Haicaiqiang, ‘Marine Green Algae’ Singing of the Yi Ethnic Group: Golden Birds and Silvery Birds Take Flight and A Toasting Song
Performers: Li Huaxiu, Li Huaifu
Haicaiqiang (‘Marine Green Algae Singing’) is a type of folksongs unique to the Yi ethnic group of Yunnan. It is found mainly in the Nisu villages in Shiping County, Honghe Hani and Yi Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan. A complete haicaiqiang song is a long and structurally complex ensemble, containing segments sung in different vocal manners and segments sung solo, in duet, by a lead singer with accompaniment, by a choir in unison or in harmony, and so on. Haicaiqiang was inscribed onto the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2006.
Cantonese Opera Excerpt from the Traditional Paichang Repertoire: Trapped in a Ravine
Performer: Law Kar-ying
Cantonese opera is popular in Cantonese-speaking areas such as Guangdong Province, southern Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Macao Special Administrative Region. The basic vocal manners of Cantonese opera are bangzi and erhuang, which are mixed with gaoqiang, kunqiang, Cantonese folk storytelling, and other miscellaneous techniques and styles. A Cantonese opera involves some rustic elements as well as masterly skills. Stage make-up is simple but tends to be heavy and strong in colour. The costumes, featuring much Cantonese embroidery, are luxurious and full of regional flavor. Cantonese opera was inscribed onto the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2009.
The Grand Song of the Dong Ethnic Group: Song of the Cicada
Performers: The Young Performing Group of Xiaohuang Village, Congjiang County, Guizhou Province
The Grand Songs of the Dong Ethnic Group are folk songs sung with no accompaniment or conductor. They include such genres as onomatopoeic songs, ballads, children’s voices, and songs of ‘celebrations in the hall’ sung on feast days, and songs of ‘blocking the road (to make guests stay)’. They are popular in Liping, Congjiang, and Rongjiang counties of Yunnan and the areas along the Rongjiang River in the Sanjiang Dong Autonomous County, Guangxi. The Grand Songs traditionally feature one prominent singer joined by a chorus for refrains, and are elegant and harmonious in style. Its continuation is by oral transmission through singing teachers and choir practices. The Grand Songs contain important cultural information about the Dong people’s way of life, social structure, customs and ethics, and wisdom. In 2009, the genre was inscribed onto the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Janggo (Hourglass Drum) Dance of China’s Korean Ethnic Group: Janggo Dance
Performers: Li Meixiang, Jin Meilan, Luo Xuemei et al
Janggo (‘Hourglass Drum’) Dance is one of the best known dances of China’s Korean Ethnic Group, and is found mainly in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture in Jilin. The Korean hourglass drum has two heads, each producing a different pitch and timbre. The dance movements consist of fluid arm and shoulder movements, mincing steps etc.. Each dancer wears an hourglass drum across the shoulder, holds a drum whip on the right hand, and beats the drum while dancing. The female version of the dance is refined, whereas the male version is lively and carefree. The Hourglass Drum Dance combines performance, singing and dance, and requires superb coordination between dancing, drumming, and music. The drum itself is not only an accompanying instrument but a dance prop as well. Adaptable to solo and group performance alike, this multimedia folk art was inscribed onto the Second National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2008.
Folk Songs from the Mongolian Utin Duur and Khoomi repertoires: The Boundless Grassland and The Brown Eagle
Performers: Arukhan, Menghedalai, Anggerik
In the Mongolian sung music repertoire, Utin Duur is marked by long, drawn-out melodic lines that evoke vast expanses, with breathing controlled to make the sounds as long as possible. Vocalise passages predominate, so lyrics are of much lesser importance. Ornamentations abound, and the vibrato-like nugula is particularly characteristic. Utin Duur was inscribed onto the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2005.
Waist-drum Dance of Changguogou of Shannan, Tibet: Spring Tide on the Nyag-Chu River
Performers: Nima, Weise et al
The Waist-drum Dance of Tibet, called Zhuo, originated in the Gyaca area of the Tibet Autonomous Region. The drum is fastened to the performer by two straps, one around the waist and the other around the thigh, fixing the drum upright along the left waist. The performer dances and marks the beat with the drum, while also swinging his long queue in a figure of “∞” or “O” pattern. The movements are bold and vigorous, the rhythms strong and unpredictable. The Waist-drum Dance Zhuo was inscribed onto the first National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2006.