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Han Tang Music Esemble and Nankuan (Southern winds) in Taiwan

By CatherineYen(20,979) CatherineYen

Posted Saturday, March 01, 2008
View All Blog Posts submitted by CatherineYen

"The Radiant Song" peformed by Han Tang Music Esemble

Han Tang Yuefu(HTYF) Music Esemble was founded in 1983 by Miss Mei-Er ,Chen of NanKuan(southern winds) fane. Its purpose was to confirm the major role of Nankuan in the history of Chinese music, to trace the origins to its earliest sources, and to train singers and instrumentalists in the proper art of performing nankuan music and, while energizing the life blood of this ancient tradition, rescue it from the brink of oblivion.  Productions of the HTYF are marked by clearly defined scholarly goals, a spirit of in-depth culture probing, distinctive ethnic characteristics, rich legacies in classical art, and highly polished performance techniques.  These have together contributed to their refined and superior elegance.  For more than ten years as they performed this ancient music at centers of higher learning the worldwide, Han Tang Yuefu have earned international renown and admiration at various art festivals in Europe and Asia, winning high praise everywhere.
In preserving the essense of the ancient NanKuan tradition, HTYF also elaborated upon the Li Yuan Xi or "Musical Theater of the Pear Orchard", a branch of southern music popular during the Song and Yuan Dynasties (around 12th-14th centuries)

About Nan Kuan Music (a brief sketch) 

What in Taiwan has been called Nankuan “Southern Winds" music, was called Nanyin (“Southern Tones") in Fujian province on the Mainland before its importation to Taiwan at the end of the sixteenth century with the first waves of immigrants from the southern part of that province (Minnan). The original home of Nankuan was Quanzhou City on the left bank of Quanzhou Harbor which during the Tang and Song dynasties when myriad ships from foreign shores crowded its waters shared fame with Alexandria in Egypt as one of the world’s foremost trading posts. During the Yuan dynasty, Marco Polo had praised it as the Silk Road on the high seas.
According to research, forebears of the Quanzhou people were aristocrats who fled the great upheavals in the north during the Six Dynasties period, and arrived in Quanzhou under the Tsin in 308 CE and who, due to the isolated nature of the area, were able to escape henceforth from the ravages of war. Later, because of this peace the city prospered. When in the fourteenth century CE the Mongols unified China and enforced the common “national speech" (Mandarin), Quanzhou folks alone, due to unique geographical and economic conditions, were able to hold out and maintain the ancient Han tongue and with it, managed to keep in tact the cultured arts of traditional music, dances, drama and folk customs that were fast eroding everywhere else in the Zhongyuan central planes. Treasured and protected not only by scholars and literati, scions of the nobility, these were also admired and loved by the populace.

Over the centuries Nanyin southern music followed their emigrant Minnan descendants overseas to Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Hong Kong.  Wherever there were  Minnan people once could hear the resonance of ancient Nankuan, local scions spared no expense or effort to extend the traditions of these Nankuan sounds and ritual, to preserve the orthodox melodies of the HuaXia(Han) people, and to uphold their refined airs in order to make contributions of historical significance.
In the early eighties when the Mainland China ended its Cultural Revolution and when scholarly research began in earnest to develop, new excavations brought to light a great many ancient artifacts, including especially the remarkable sets of bronze bells set up in the massive underground tomb of Yi, Duke of Zheng, instruments that re-introduced China’s musical systems of more than two thousand years ago. Here under reliable evidence, the tonal material and musical intervals of these bells confirmed the antiquity of Nankuan music and established its place in China’s cultural history to be far older than music of the Tang, Song, Yuan or Ming, being current even before the Qing-Shang genre of the Han and Wei periods. Scholars now began to make detailed comparisons of dramatic texts, lyrics, northern and southern modalities, instruments, intonation, and began to produce comprehensive and in depth analyses and investigations into Chinese cultural history, including humanities, society, language and linguistics, as well as tonality. Thus Nankuan Musicology came to be established as a discipline in its own right, with the aim of tracing the origins of this musical tradition that since the Tang and Song has been proclaimed lost, and to recover the erstwhile reputation of the Chinese as a highly civilized people of music and of rites.
The above data is excerpted from the formal website of HTYF

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Posted to ProBlogs.com on Saturday, March 01, 2008
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