Notes on Intercultural Communication

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China’s GDP in 2013

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Only 30% of the world now has a higher GDP per capita than China (2013)


In many ways, what we are witnessing is not the ‘emergence of Asia’, but the ‘re-emergence of Asia’

(…) In 1820, Asia accounted for just under 60 per cent of total global output, with China and India together accounting for nearly half of global GDP. This was followed by nearly two centuries of economic decline in Asia, ignited by the European industrial revolution—a trend that has now been reversed. (…)

Jayant Menon, ADB

Read the full article online here of here.

/retrieved 09.06.2013 at



(retrieved 09.06.2013 at


China’s economic achievement is so enormous, indeed literally without parallel in human history, that it is sometimes difficult for people to take in its scale. A country which in 1978, when “reform and opening up” was launched, was one of the poorest in the world, has now reached a point where it has a higher GDP per capita than the countries containing the majority of the world’s population. Only 30 per cent of the world’s population now lives in countries with higher per capita GDP than China.

China and the World's GDP

To give absolutely precise numbers, drawing on the newly published data for the world economy in 2012 released by the IMF, the chart shows that by 2012, only 30.2 per cent of the world’s population lived in countries with a higher GDP per capita than China, while 50.2 per cent lived in countries with a lower one. China itself constituted 19.6 per cent of the world’s population at this time.

China is, therefore, now in the top half of the world as far as economic development is concerned, and to avoid any suggestions of exaggeration, it should be made clear that these comparisons are at the current market exchange rate measures usually used in China – although calculations in parity purchasing powers (PPPs), which are the measure preferred by the majority of Western economists, makes no significant difference to the result.

The chart also illustrates China’s extraordinary progress. In 1978, when “reform and opening up” began, only 0.5 per cent of the global population lived in countries with a lower GDP per capita than China, while 73.5 per cent lived in countries with a higher GDP per capita. The transition to a situation where China has overtaken the majority of the world’s population in per capita GDP is the greatest economic transformation in human history, both in terms of the short time frame required and number of people affected.

Given that the data clearly shows China has progressed into the top half of the world economy in terms of economic development, why do some persist with misrepresenting China as being “in the middle” or even more misleadingly dubbing it a “poor” country by international standards?

Such misrepresentations make elementary statistical errors which are familiar to those who analyse income distribution data. For example the following argument is sometimes presented: The IMF World Economic Outlook database gives GDP per capita statistics for 188 countries with China ranking 94th – therefore China is “in the middle”. Another sometimes-cited statistic compares China to the world average – in 2012 China’s GDP per capita was 59 per cent of this average figure – making China appear a “poor” country.

The problem with this “list” method is that it does not take population into account. For example, the Caribbean state St Kitts and Nevis, population 57,000, has a higher GDP per capita than China while India, population 1.223 billion, has a lower one. To say China is “between the two”, as though St Kitts and Nevis and India represent equivalent weights in the world economy, is playing games with words rather than carrying out serious analysis. This elementary statistical rule is particularly relevant given that the number of developed economies with small populations is disproportionately large. The population of countries must therefore be taken into account when calculating China’s real relative position in the world economy.

The second mistake, comparing China to the “average”, makes an error so well known in income distribution statistics that it is somewhat surprising anyone gives it any credence, let alone continues to propose it.

Statisticians know that averages, technically speaking the “mean”, can be disproportionately affected by small numbers of extreme values. It is well known that this applies to incomes within countries as small numbers of billionaires artificially raise average incomes in a way that misrepresents the real situation.

This statistical distortion is clear from international data. Average world GDP per capita, that is world GDP divided by the number of people, is slightly more than $10,000 per year. But only 29.9 per cent of the world’s population lives in countries with GDP per capita above that level while 70.1 per cent live in countries below it. Something with only 29.9 per cent above and 70.1 per cent below is not most people’s idea of an average!

What most people understand by an average, the mid-point, is, in proper statistical terms, not the average but the median. Reputable studies on income distribution, therefore, almost invariably use the median, not averages, to avoid this distorting effect of small numbers of extreme values. Using the statistically misleading average, instead of the mid-point, bizarrely transforms the real situation – that China now has a GDP per capita above that of the majority of the world’s population – into giving the impression that China is a poor country!

There are three main reasons why it is important to accurately present China’s level of development.

First, policy must be based on accurate analysis – in serious matters there is no virtue in either optimism or pessimism, only in realism. As the famous Chinese phrase tells us, it is better to seek truth from facts.

Second, accurate presentation is necessary to clearly understand the real economic challenges China faces. For example China’s GDP per capita is now higher than all developing South and South East Asian countries except Malaysia – clarifying why any competitive strategy for China based on low wages is unviable.

Third, China’s position in the top half of the world in terms of GDP per capita makes clear its technological level – China’s economy is now dominated by medium, not low, technology.

Does an accurate presentation of China’s real level of development endanger its international legal status as a developing economy? The World Bank has not yet published new criteria for the GDP per capita necessary to qualify as an “advanced” economy, but the 2011 criteria and statistical data is available and it tells us that the answer to the question is “no”. To classify as “high income”, an economy must have an annual GDP per capita of slightly more than $12,000. Only 16 per cent of the world’s population lives in such economies. It will take 10-15 years for China to achieve “high income” status – although when it does this will more than double the number of people living in such economies.

Achieving the “Chinese dream” requires that the present reality is accurately understood. China has entered the top half of the world’s level of economic development. Only 30 per cent of the world’s population lives in countries with a higher GDP per capita than China. That is the accurate analysis of China’s relative position in the world economy. To achieve the “Chinese dream” requires eliminating not only any exaggerated bombast but also any systematic underestimation

This article originally appeared in Chinese at Sina Finance and in English at


 John Ross

John Ross

Is Visiting Professor at Antai College of Economics and Management, Jiao Tong University, Shanghai


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(retrieved 25.05.2013 at


Read more about China and it’s economy from John Ross

Key Trends in Globalisation

Seek truth from facts – 实事求是 (Chinese saying originally from the Han dynasty)


World Economic Outlook (WEO) – International Monetary Fund – Survey 2013

World Economic Outlook 2013

(above retrieved 25.05.2013 at,,


What that dramatic economic shift means to people, describes Onionjuggler in her Force Feeding Duck Style:

A student told me this story as part of a midterm last year, and I thought it was so cute I would share it with you.

For her fifth birthday, Helen’s* mother wanted to make her a special dinner. She lived in the country, and at that time everyone was very poor, so meat was hard to come by. Her mother had to take the day off to travel to a different town to buy some pork, and in the end was only able to afford enough meat for Helen– the rest of the family would have to make due with the usual vegetables and noodles.

That night, Helen was so excited to eat her fancy dinner. But when her mother handed her the bowl, her older brother pointed at it and said, “Look out! There is a spider on the bottom of the bowl!”

Helen tipped the bowl over to look for the spider, and poured her whole dinner onto the dirty floor. Her mother scolded her brother, but she couldn’t salvage the dinner. Poor Helen cried and cried, and she never forgot that birthday.

*Her real name isn’t Helen– that’s just the name she chose for class.

(retrieved 25.05.2013 at


China in 2050

China in 2050Photo by Benoit Cezard

(retrieved 13.07.2013 at


(reviewed 13.07.2013)

Hope in Different Cultures

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Hope in Chinese Language


Traditional: 希望
Simplified: 希望

First Character: 希 (xī) – rare; infrequent
Second Character: 望 (wàng) – hope; expect; to visit; to gaze (into the distance); look towards; towards

(retrieved 29.05.2010 at


The Tao Te King


Success is as dangerous as failure.
Hope is as hollow as fear.

What does it mean that success is as dangerous as failure?
Whether you go up the ladder or down it,
your position is shaky.
When you stand with your two feet on the ground,
you will always keep your balance.

What does it mean that hope is as hollow as fear?
Hope and fear are both phantoms
that arise from thinking of the self.
When we don’t see the self as self,
what do we have to fear?

See the world as your self.
Have faith in the way things are.
Love the world as your self;
then you can care for all things.

(retrieved 29.05.2010 at


Chinese Symbol for Hope (“we always have hope to face fate”)

The Chinese characters have developed long time ago and haven’t undergone many changes in the course of time. The hope symbol in Chinese culture has a mysterious appearance and is painted with the help of a brush. Traditionally, the hope symbol is drawn on a white rice paper. The paper is decorated with a floral silk pattern that is blue in color. The Chinese art of drawing such symbols is known as calligraphy. The hope symbol is also used as a wall hanging artwork. Bamboo could be used to frame this artwork.

(retrieved 29.05.2010 at – sorry, broken link)


In Chinese language, fear and hope refers to 恐惧和希望(kǒnɡjù hé xī wànɡ). Symbols for fear are ghosts, diseases, death, and so on. All these things make people feel hopeless in life, so they try their best to avoid them. Symbols for hope are spring, the color green, the rising sun, and sunflowers. People think green means life is vigorous. The rising sun and sunflowers means life is coming again.

If you have any other questions related to Chinese language, please feel free to contact me at I would be glad to help.-Jennifer

(retrieved 29.05.2010 at


Hope in Western Culture

The Bible

Röm 15,13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

(retrieved 29.05.2010 at – please make sure, you get the English version)

Hope is termed a theological virtue because its immediate object is God, as is true of the other two essentially infused virtues, faith and charity. St. Thomas acutely says that the theological virtues are so called “because they have God for their object, both in so far as by them we are properly directed to Him, and because they are infused into our souls by God alone, as also, finally, because we come to know of them only by Divine revelation in the Sacred Scriptures”. Catholic Encyclopedia

(retrieved 29.05.2010 at


Greek Mythology – Pandora

The theory of Hesiod,[8] the oldest of all the Greek poets, was that the Titan Prometheus, the son of Iapetus, had formed man out of clay, and that Athene had breathed a soul into him. Full of love for the beings he had called into existence, Prometheus determined to elevate their minds and improve their condition in every way; he therefore taught them astronomy, mathematics, the alphabet, how to cure diseases, and the art of divination. He created this race in such great numbers that the gods began to see the necessity of instituting certain fixed laws with regard to the sacrifices due to them, and the worship to which they considered themselves entitled from mankind in return for the protection which they accorded them. An assembly was therefore convened at Mecone in order to settle these points. It was decided that Prometheus, as the advocate of man, should slay an ox, which should be divided into two equal parts, and that the gods should select one portion which should henceforth, in all future sacrifices, be set apart for them. Prometheus so divided the ox that one part consisted of the bones (which formed of course the least valuable portion of the animal), artfully concealed by the white fat; whilst the other contained all the edible parts, which he covered with the skin, and on the top of all he laid the stomach.

Zeus, pretending to be deceived, chose the heap of bones, but he saw through the stratagem, and was so angry at the deception practised on him by Prometheus that he avenged himself by refusing to mortals the gift of fire. [25]Prometheus, however, resolved to brave the anger of the great ruler of Olympus, and to obtain from heaven the vital spark so necessary for the further progress and comfort of the human race. He accordingly contrived to steal some sparks from the chariot of the sun, which he conveyed to earth hidden in a hollow tube. Furious at being again outwitted, Zeus determined to be revenged first on mankind, and then on Prometheus. To punish the former he commanded Hephæstus (Vulcan) to mould a beautiful woman out of clay, and determined that through her instrumentality trouble and misery should be brought into the world.

The gods were so charmed with the graceful and artistic creation of Hephæstus, that they all determined to endow her with some special gift. Hermes (Mercury) bestowed on her a smooth persuasive tongue, Aphrodite gave her beauty and the art of pleasing; the Graces made her fascinating, and Athene (Minerva) gifted her with the possession of feminine accomplishments. She was called Pandora, which means all-gifted, having received every attribute necessary to make her charming and irresistible. Thus beautifully formed and endowed, this exquisite creature, attired by the Graces, and crowned with flowers by the Seasons, was conducted to the house of Epimetheus[9] by Hermes the messenger of the gods. Now Epimetheus had been warned by his brother not to accept any gift whatever from the gods; but he was so fascinated by the beautiful being who suddenly appeared before him, that he welcomed her to his home, and made her his wife. It was not long, however, before he had cause to regret his weakness.

He had in his possession a jar of rare workmanship, containing all the blessings reserved by the gods for mankind, which he had been expressly forbidden to open. But woman’s proverbial curiosity could not withstand so great a temptation, and Pandora determined to solve the mystery at any cost. Watching her opportunity she raised the lid, and immediately all the blessings which [26]the gods had thus reserved for mankind took wing and flew away. But all was not lost. Just as Hope (which lay at the bottom) was about to escape, Pandora hastily closed the lid of the jar, and thus preserved to man that never-failing solace which helps him to bear with courage the many ills which assail him.[10]

Having punished mankind, Zeus determined to execute vengeance on Prometheus. He accordingly chained him to a rock in Mount Caucasus, and sent an eagle every day to gnaw away his liver, which grew again every night ready for fresh torments. For thirty years Prometheus endured this fearful punishment; but at length Zeus relented, and permitted his son Heracles (Hercules) to kill the eagle, and the sufferer was released.

Read the whole “Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome” from E.M. Berens online at the Gutemberg Project or download the pdf here.

(retrieved 29.05.2010 at



Those of us raised in Western culture were never taught that fear is the price of hope. Rather, we can’t envision life without hope. Hell, according to Dante, is the place devoid of hope; he warned Christians condemned there to “abandon all hope, ye who enter herein.” The Hebrew prophets warned that without vision, the people perish.
Hope is what propels us into action. We’ve been taught to dream of a better world as the necessary first step in creating one. We create a clear vision for the future we want, then we set a strategy, make a plan, and get to work. We focus strategically on doing only those things that have a high probability of success.
As long as we “keep hope alive” and work hard, our endeavors will create the world we want. How could we do our work if we had no hope that we’d succeed?
Motivated by hope, but then confronted by failure, we become depressed and demoralized. Life becomes meaningless; we despair of changing things for the better. At such a time, we learn the price of hope. Rather than inspiring and motivating us, hope has become a burden made heavy by its companion, fear of failing.

Margaret Wheatley

(retrieved 29.05.2012 at – sorry, broken link)


(reviewed 20.02.2014)

Internet Pornography in Different Countries

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Jerry Ropelato`s article about the world`s revenues of internet pornography (2006)

Read his full article here.

It is obvious, that Korea spends an enormous sum on internet pornography. Why is that so? Read an analysis about Korean sexuality from the Humboldt Universität Berlin here or visit their website

For sexuality in other countries refer to the index:

Japan and China are following Korea in a distance. Pornography is officially prohibited in China, so the official numbers displayed only show the top of the iceberg. Obviously the Confucian values play a major role in internet pornography.


History of Chinese Music

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Richard Wilhelm (* 10. Mai 1873; † 02.03. 1930)  described Chinese music as a band, which unites the society and delights even the immaterial world. The beauty of the music attracted Gods, ancestors or any divine creatures. Even enemies to the Chinese empire surrendered  because of the beauty of the music.

The History of Chinese Music (by Liang, M. Y. 1985)

“Yin Yueh” (music) was traditionally considered to be one of the four fundamental societal functions together with morals, law and politics.  Primarily because of this emphasis, every fedual state, dynasty and republic throughout history had established an official music organization or bureau of music.

Shang (ca.16th-11th centuries B.C.), Zhou (1075-221B.C.)
According to literary documents, the Zhouperiod music had always been regarded as the foundation and crystallization of Chinese music for later dynasties.  The complete model of court and ritual ceremonial music, music education system, the variety of musical styles, the grand music offices, and instrumentation were seeds of music for the subsequent dynasties.

Qin (221 B.C.-207 B.C.) and Han Dynasties (206 B.C.-A.D. 220)
During this period, therefore were significant inter-and cross-cultural musical influences. among the diverse sub-cultures of Chinese empire, and also between China and its geographic-economic affliates.  In addition to the native court musical instruments, that is, the zithers, panpipes, transverse flutes, vessel flutes, and a variety of barrel-shaped, stick membranophones, bells and lithophones, there were several new instruments introduced during this period.  The were derived from regional and foreign sources.  The most significant regional instrument to be introduced to the imperial court was the oblong bridged zither, the zheng, which was a native instrument of the former Qin kingdom.  With the unification of China under Qin ruler and foundation of the Qin dynasty, the zheng soon became nationally popular, especially within the different types of urban music.  Besides, during this period many foreign instruments were introduced China, most important of which were the end-blown di flute with four holes, the cylindrical double-reed jiao oboe, the shukongbou standing harp, and the plucked pipa lute.
In actual practice, three modes are know as the most important ones.

Three Kingdom (220-265), Jin (260-420). and the Northern-Southern Dynasty
From 220-589 A.D., China was no longer a unified empire and in its place reigned a number contending kingdoms and states, the majority of which hardly ruled for more than fifty years before being overthrown by another faction.  The most significant musical historical events were importation and assimilation of nonindigenous music, expansion of Han musical style into southern China, new instruments, recognition of solo performance, earliest survival notation, maturity of music aesthetics by Xi Kang, and new conception of tonal systems.

Sui (581-618), Tang (618-907), and Five Dynasties (907-960)
After almost four centuries as a divided nation, China was once again re-united in Sui dynasty.  The followed Tang dynasty had a long period of economic, political and cultural growth.  Traders, official delegates, cultural and religious missions from Central Asia, Vietnam, Japan, India and Korea were drawn to its brilliant capital center and contributed a cosmopolitan sophistication to Tang China.  Foreign musicians resided at the court not only to give performances, but also to provide musical instruction.  The huge music bureau of the court, such as Jiaofang, was know to have in its employment thousands of musicians and dancers for daily performing duties.  The first music academy, Liyuan (“Pear Garden”), was instituted for performance and training of professional young musicians.  Poems by some of the most famous literati of China were set into songs which were almost instantly popular.  This body of ageless poetry was celebrated even in subsequent history, in China and abroad.

The banquet music tradition for aristocracy known as yanyue had already been in practice during the ancient zhou dynasty.  This music nevertheless, was overshadowed by the court ritual-ceremonial music, which was subquently reconstructed during the Han dynasty and called yanyue or “elsgant and refined music”.  It was not untile the Sui and Tang dynasties that uanyue or “banquet music” became the major court musical genre for the first time.  Yanyue was a court musical performance for the nobles and gentries during a state function and during days of festivity.

The program of banquet music consisted of music of native and national minority Chinese as well as the music of neighboring nations.  The foreign music, for example, the music of Samarkand, Bukhara, Fu ran (South Asia), India, and Korea.  These seven non-native styles plus the native styles resulted in a total of ten musical divisions by the early Tang dynasty called the shibu ji or “ten performing divisions”.  However, the division of music was no longer organized by regional and international styles later, but by “standing music” and “sitting music” performance divisions.  The standing division performed mostly outdoors, had a standard repertory, and included from sixty to one-hundred and eighty musicians and dancers.  The sitting division had more of an ensemble quality, and included from three to twelve musicians and dancers.

This change from divisions of stylistic regions to standing and sitting organization indicated that the sinicization of previously imported style had occured by the early 8th century, and that a national high art form of dance-music genre had been created.  Newly composed music took the place of imported musical genres.  Although none of the yanyue repertory survived, except by name along, perhepts a trace of the sitting division style might be seen in the gagaku music of Japanese court.

Music of the Northern Song (960-1127), Southern Song (1127-1279) and Yuan (1271-1368) Dynasties

The emergence of industry (iron, textile, for example) and increasing commerce caused a growing bourgeoisie population and a society that was more mobile.  The printing of books made knowledge more accessible and broad literacy to a briader level.  Changes in the arts and literature of this periodled to a new tradition in drama, music, fiction and impressionistic painting that dominated the development in the remaining periods of modern China.  The creation of a new style in popular music, dram and literature were mostly important.  The scholar-officials, who were versatile in poetry, painting and music making, found an expanded audience for their song and word production.  There were for major vocal genres: the poetic ci song, the art song, narrtive music, the zaju variety musical drama.  During this period, qin solo repertory also developed into a grand style.

The ci, often called “long and short verse”, generally two stanza in length, was the new type of poetry developed and perfected by poets of the Song dynasty.  Unlike the popular shi poetic form of the Tang dynasty, which had a uniform number of words per line, the ci was in irregular meter.  Besides, the ci was correlated to music.  The text of a ci was created by fitting words to an existing tune, which was of folk or popular origin and perhaps was also from foreign music that came from Central Asia during the Tang period.  A ci poem therefore was the “filling in” of words to a given musical modal sequence and rhythm scheme in irregular meter.  The practice of using an existing tune in early ci writing was gradually replaced by newly composed melodies by ci poets.  In spite of the popularity of ci songs, only a few of the by Jiang Kuei survived.

The textual content of ci is essentially lyric and sentimental.  It expresses emotions of love, sorrow and the joy of freeing oneself from the mundane, as well as deep feelings of nature.  There are sensuous thoughts of lovely maindens, mournful and longing.  Such are the sentiment of ci songs.

The Art Songs
There are two major types of art songs in this period, the xiaoling “short song” and the changzhuan “drum song”.   The first type of short song is characteristic of 12th- to 13th- century vocal music.  It is brief, uses pre-existing tunes and is textually based on the qu form.  Qu poetry differs from the previously mentioned shi and ci poetry in that qu is generally written in vernacular Chinese; it is popular poetry written by educated poets.  The qu poem usually has rhymed line ending and is largely based on pastoral, seasonal or Taoiststic themes.   An important distinction, however, is that individual xiaoling songs were sometimes were performed by a solo singer to the accompaniment of a wooden clapper.

The changzhuan “drum song” was developed during the Northern Song period.  It was known for its instrumental accompaniment, which included the single-framed stick drum, wooden clapper and transverse flute. It was also distinguished by two kinds of unique formal structures:(1) the changling from which was “introduction, A, A, B, B, C, C, and finale”; and (2) the changda from which was “introduction, A, B, A, B”.  Although none of the actual music of this vocal genre survived, the accompanying instruments were known to have alternated between metered and free rhythmic sections, thereby increasing the dramatization of the text.

The Narrative Songs
During this period there were many types of narrative songs which the zhugongdiao or “melody in multi-modes” was most significant.  This form of narrative song was said to have been introduced by a professional narrative singer, Wang Sanquan, to the Northern Song capital of Kaifeng, sometime between 1068 and 1094.  A lengthy historical or romantic tale was told through the alternation of narration and song, which was accompanied by an instrumentation similar to that of the drum songs, that is, single-frameed drum, wooden clapper, transverse flute and occasionally adding the pipa lute.

The Zaju ” Variety Musical Drama”
Ever science the Tang period (618-906) there had been a distinct direction toward an amalgamation of the speech, music, and gesturing/dancing performing arts.  From the 11th to 13th centuries, we begin to see a culminating fusion between folk songs, drama, narrative music, juggling and acrobatics to form a stage dramatic art.  The zaju ” variety musical drama” was derived from the fact that various stage arts, from singing to satirical comedy and dramatic recitations, made up zaju.

In large cities, so called ” title districts” or amusement centers sprang up where pleasure seekers of different backgrounds could purchase food, amusement, and other novelties.  For example, in the Northern Song capital Bianliang (present-day Kaifeng) between 1102 and 1111, there were some fifty theaters located in these amusement centers.  Performances were held daily, regardless of the weather, and there were always crowds of spectators.  There were different types of entertainment offered: the variety musical dramas which seemed to be the most important feature in the “title districts”, storytelling, martial arts, puppetry, and so on.

The zaju variety musical dramas contained four acts, including an introductory prologue which was usually comical and made up Act One.  Acts Two and Three were the main body and Act Four was the epilogue.  There were five characters involved: (a) a leading male role who was the sole singer in the cast, (b) a supporting male role, (c) a painted face, comic role, (d) an official, and (e) a musician who provided simple instrumental accompaniment on flute and drum.  Apart from the singing role, other characters in the drama had narrating or acting ( including dancing) parts.

The subject of the zaju dramas covered a wide range of topics.  As recorded in the 1398 publication ” The Supreme Tone of Universal Harmony” ( Taihe zhengyin pu) by the playwright Zhu Quan (sixteenth son of the first emperor of the Ming dynasty), some of the zaju subjects were: enlightenment and immortality, kings and ministers, valiant warriors, traitors, advocates of filial piety or integrity, exiled officials, separation, reunion, and romance.

The zaju script provided an opportunity for social commentary and in many ways the variety musical dramas characterized the philosophical and social attitudes of 13th-14th century China.  Taoist religiophilosophical themes and morality were reflected in the variety dramas.  The quest for a simple life, one in harmony with the fundamental law of nature, was seen as a worthy goal in contrast to the vain delusions of wordly fame and material wealth. It must be historically recalled that 14th century China under Mongol rule offered limited and miserable opportunities for the educated Chinese (Han Chinese) class as a whole.  Many of the gentry intellectuals turned toward dramatic endeavors, which created an abundance of playwrights during this period. Writing became not only a livelihood, but more importantly, a way to escape the political and social upheaval.  Taoism and its advocacy of a simple life in nature as the path to obtaining immortality severed as a means to justify one’s own existence in the face of a hopeless socio-political environment.

Ming-Quing Dynasties
The Ming-Qing period was highly productive musically, resulting in developments that are important not only in this period but as high-lights in the whole continuum of Chinese music.  Kun and Peking operas, the art of qin, and regional instrumental music are some of the substanatial areas that warrant more detailed coverage and thus are included as special topics in the second part of this book. Other prominent developments of the period include the areas of theory and musical literature, which will be introduced below.

The Ming-Qing period represents a highly cultivated time and a growing literate society.  Among the class of literati officials, the arts of prose-poetry writing, qin zither playing, calligraphy, and chess playing became the highest goals.  Regrettably, by the 19th century, creativity was replaced by cliche, imitation and conservatism; the arts of this time are generaly criticized as becoming lifeless and stagnant.  However , a great scholarly contribution of this period was the printing of large collections, anthologies and encyclopedic works, many of which have been preserved until our time.  An example of a comprehensive publication for the qin zither is the Yongle qinshu jicheng (” A Collection of Qin Essays”) printed in twenty volumes. Itscontents embody the history, music, theory, tuing methods and poetry on the qin.  One of the most significant qin manuscript-notation collections in existenxe is the Shenqi mipu (“Mysterious and Secret Notations”) published in 1425 by Zhu Quan (the sixteenth son of the first Ming emperor).  Subsequently, there were over a hundred more qin manuscript-notational handbooks printed in the Ming-Qing period.  Another substanrial notational collection is the 1746 publication of 81 volumes, the Jiugong dacheng nanbeici gongpu (“Nations of Northern and Southern Songs in Nine musical Keys”), that was complied by Zhou Xiangyu under imperial auspices.

In addition to the practice of music and literature, a samll group of literati-gentry scholars were also preoccupied with the acoustical principles of music especially related to their investigations in mathematics and numerology.  Among these was a distinguished prince, Zhu Zaiyu(1536-ca.1610), who was an eminent musicologist, mathematican and astronomer in Chinese history, perhaps better known in the later two fields than in music. Prince Zhu is credited with the development of the equal-tempered scale of twelve pitches.

Prince Zhu’s theory for an equal-tempered scale was not implemented into music practices in China.

Besides the prodigious publications and dissemination of qin music and practices, signficant musical developments of this period occurred in the area of urban centers such as Peking and Suyang (Suzhou and Yangzhou ) were entertainment in nature.  The source of this entertainment music was usually folk dervied, that is, from the farms and villages, but which was polished for city/urban consumption.

In Peking the important forms of urban music included the narrative genres such as tanci (not to be confused with southern tanchi), lianhualao (“The Falling Lotus”), and bajiaogu (“Eight-cornered Drum Song”). These were performed outdoors in the open areas of the marketplaces usually by travelling performing troupes. Their earnings were donations from by-standers.  These performances of musical instruments.  Loud instrumentation, such as the shifan ten varieties of gong and drum ensemble of the fengyang flower drum dance, was not popular in the open air.  In many instances these presentations were not for purely musical reasons, but to gain the attention of passers-by for the sale of herbal medication or other products.

The outdoor performances catered to the commoners, meanwhile the indoor performances catered to an audience made up of genry-officials and wealthy merchants.  The performing hall would be set up with tables and chairs to allow the audience to partake of tea and delicacies while enjoing the production.  The presentation was usually operatic: Kun opera and other regional operas.

During this period the influx of folk songs into cultural centers and their subsequent stylizations led to the growth of many forms of provincially (or regionally) indentified operas.  Operatic genres such as the Han opera of Hubei province, Chuan opera of Sichuan province, Xiang opera of Hunan province, Min opera of Fujian province, Qinqiang of Shaanxi province, and Lu opera of Shandong province, to name some primary forms, had their formation sometime during the mid-16th century but did not reach the height of their development until the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries.  Of these operatic genres two styles became so widely appreciated that they can be characterized as national dramatic genres. These were the Kun opera, which flourished especially in the Ming dynasty, and the Peking opera, which reached its zenith in the Qing dynasty.

Liang, M. Y. (1985). Music of the billion: An introduction to Chinese musical culture. NY: Heinrichshofen.  Scales & scores scanned from pp. 85, 205.
Image scanned from Lu, C.-K. (1996). Traditional music of Taiwan, (pp. 76, 97). Taipei, Dung-Hua Book Store.


The School of Music / University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign:

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Written by NoToes

08/03/2010 at 13:59