October 10th, 2007

Another excellent piece from Danwei, this one on ethnomusicology in China.

Unfortunately, one thing that’s been missing from my experience of Yanqing has been music. Well, sure, several times I’ve been told I can go and 看æˆ? (watch the show), and once I did go, but that first time:

  1. It was nighttime, but still, everyone who could see me was watching me, and I was the only one watching the show.
  2. It was just modern pop music, the kind you can hear anywhere, and which isn’t so hugely different from Western pop music, no traditional music of any kind. I’d be much more interested in seeing local folk music or opera. Otherwise, what’s the bloody point of living in a foreign country?

Then every time since I’ve been reluctant to go. And sitting in the courtyard listening to the music echoing through the village has confirmed that it’s not worth going, because every time since then it’s been the same modern pop music, the kind you can hear anywhere, and which isn’t so hugely different from Western pop music.

The last night we were up in the village there was a show. The same modern pop music all over again. You know, the kind you can hear anywhere, and which really is not that hugely different from Western pop music. And what was this show in honour of? The construction of a new temple. Somehow, that just didn’t seem all that appropriate to me.

Yes, I know, I should stop being so grumpy. It is, after all, entirely up to the Chinese people to decide what kind of music they’re going to listen to. And it’s up to the village leadership to decide who they’re going to ask to put on shows in the village. But it would be nice to hear some of the traditional music of the Yanqing area.

And that new temple? Ba said it was a “è€?爷庙”. It seems the “è€?爷” is in reference to a landlord, according to lzh, or perhaps a master, bureaucrat or lord judging by the little I can find in the dictionary. Odd kind of temple to be building in modern China, but there you go.

I do remember seeing an old temple in a very, very dilapidated, long-unused state, on past wanderings through the village on the way to visiting relatives at Spring Festival. I have no idea what kind of temple that was, or even if it was once a temple. It looked like it had been a temple sometime in the past. I have no idea where this new temple is, but I think I might ask to be shown it next time we’re up in the village.

Comments are closed.