Ancient Naxi Music 11-05-2004 09:53

There is a kind of age-old music popular in Lijiang an ancient city in Yunnan Province, southwest China. It is the ancient Naxi music referred to as as 鈥渁 living fossil of Chinese music鈥.

The ancient Naxi music originated in the 14th century and evolved from the music of the Central Plains introduced into Lijiang 600 years ago. It merged the sacred music of Taoism, the ceremonial music of Confucianism and the poetic music of the Tang and Song dynasties. The performance techniques absorbed the style of the Naxi ethnic group in Lijiang, so today it is called 鈥渁ncient Naxi music鈥. Lijiang, the area inhabited by the Naxi people for centuries, saw the turmoil of war only rarely. During the Yuan Dynasty, local chiefs invited musicians from the inland to live in Lijiang and teach its musicians the ceremonial music for court, which consisted mainly of the sacred music of Taoism. The ancient city of Lijiang on the plateau is surrounded by the Yulong Snow-capped Mountain and the Jinsha River. Due to its peculiar geographical environment and cultural tradition, Lijiang retains the ancient music that has disappeared at its birthplace.

Xuan Ke (President, Ancient Naxi Music Society of Lijiang)

Large places here have developed too quickly. Many original things that were there have changed or no longer exist. This is a remote place and the local people are rather conservative. Here we retain the music of various ethnic groups, especially the music of the Han people and the instrumental music pertaining to Confucianism. In fact, Confucius said, 鈥淲hen court ceremonial music has been lost, it can be sought from the people.鈥

Where can we find the Han people鈥檚 culture when ceremonial music has been lost? It can be found in the border area. So we believe ancient Naxi music is music of the Han people and of the Central Plains. Ancient Naxi music is our neighbour鈥檚 music. Only we have preserved it fairly well.

Over the past 600 years, the ancient music, like the age-old pictograph of Lijiang, has been part of the life of the Naxi people. Their musical instruments are very old. This old man is singing while beating the 鈥渢en gong chimes鈥. The instrument here was made over 200 years ago.

The crooked-neck pipa is a musical instrument peculiar to the Naxi people. It has retained its original shape from the Tang Dynasty of over a thousand years ago.

Ancient Chinese tunes were titled with names of songs. Today we can only see literary works featuring these pure tunes. From the ancient Naxi music, we can appreciate actual melodies of the Tang and Song dynasties.

The tuneful melody of the ancient Naxi music has a primitive simplicity. From this we can fully admire the charm of traditional Chinese music.

Editor:Xiang Jing

About Us . Get the Channel? . Contact Us Xinhua . People's Daily . China Daily . CRI . . cycnet . eastday .
Copyright © 2005 China Central Television, All Rights Reserved