Arab Today, arab today ancient nanyin music mellows in modern times
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Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

Ancient Nanyin music mellows in modern times

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Ancient Nanyin music mellows in modern times

Fuzhou - XINHUA

The fate of ancient Chinese folk music art form Nanyin has ebbed and flowed over the past few decades. Nanyin, which originated from east China's Fujian Province, is known as the "living fossil" of ancient Chinese music and literally means music in the south. It is a traditional opera in Fujian dialect. Traditionally, Nanyin is performed by five people. The singer stands in the middle of the other four, who play dongxiao (a vertical flute), nanpa (a bent-necked pipa), erxian (a two-stringed instrument), and sanxian (a three-stringed instrument) respectively. The art form was nearly destroyed by the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), said Chen Risheng, chairman of Quanzhou Nanyin Artists Association. "People had to sing secretly," Chen said. "From time to time, three or four of us would gather together at home and perform behind the locked door," said Wu Shi'an, 65, head of the Xiamen Nanyin Art Research Institute. Despite surviving, the art lost a lot of its audience, especially the young, to pop music in the 1980s. The Quanzhou local government pledged in 2004 to spend more than 38 million yuan (6.2 million U.S. dollars) to preserve and develop Nanyin in the following decade. Now there are 120 primary and middle schools teaching Nanyin to about 200,000 students. Four hundred Nanyin clubs in Quanzhou have more than 7,000 performers. In 2006, Nanyin was enlisted as a National Non-material Cultural Heritage. Three years later, it was listed as a World Human Verbal and Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. There are two orchestras in the cities of Quanzhou and Xiamen, and Quanzhou Normal Institute runs a doctoral program for Nanyin. "Nanyin is at its best period now as it is appreciated both home and abroad. People appreciate the art," Chen said. Wu Shi'an disagreed. Nanyin orchestra of Xiamen has not enrolled any new members for about 10 years. "It is losing its audience. It is a traditional style in a local dialect, which limits its audience," Wu said. An apprentice of Wu's, Yang Yihong, is trying to merge western symphony instruments with Nanyin to attract young people. Wu is strongly opposed to this, as is Chen, who both believe in preserving Nanyin's original style. For Huang Qiuting, a Nanyin major at Quanzhou Normal Institute, "Nanyin is peaceful and quiet, and perhaps there lies its charming secrets."

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