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Dagu and Gushu

Introduction of Dop and Gushu

Dop and Gushu are terms that denote the same category of qu under the heading of quyi Dagu or gushu chiefly consists of jinyun dagu,stories told in Beijing dialect with a drum accompaniment; and xihe dagu stories told by a performer who beats a drum at the same time, with seven or ten words to the line; meihua dagu which originated in Beijing and is popular in north China, and in which the performer tells stories while beating a drum, accompanied by two or three persons who play three-stringed instruments, pipa and sihu. Leting dagu Northeast dagu Shandong dagu and Beijng qinshu present their narratives mainly in song form, with musical accompaniment, as do Henan Zhuizi and Wenihou guci There are dozens of such art forms. Popular in townships and rural areas as well as in cities in north China, they are performed in this way: one person beats a drum or plays clappers, accompanied by one or more musicians. The chief instrument is the sanxian or three-stringed lute, which is indispensable. There are also the sihu (four-stringed lute),pipa and dulcimer The drum beaten by the story teller is referred to as shugu, or story telling drum, oblong in shape with animal skins on both ends. It is placed on a rack, which may be high or low, as required by different kinds of quyi The drum is beaten with a bamboo stick. The clappers (ban) are of two kinds: one is made of two pieces, usually of hardwood, and the other consists of two pieces of what are called half-moon copper or steel strips, also called "mandarin duck" clappers. The script is referred to as guci and has basically seven words or ten words to the line. The story can be either short, medium or long. The short stories are in song form, without narrative. The medium and long stories require both singing and narrative, hence their performance is referred to as "singing the dagushu" The music of dagu is the banqiangti which mainly originate from folk music in the locality where the particular type of dagu is popular The storyteller sings in the local dialect. The difference in vocal music is the chief distinction between one kind of dagu and another.

Jingyun Dagu

jingyun came into being and was popular in Beijing and Tianjin at the end of the Qing Dynasty and the beginning of the period of the Republic of China. it was initiated by Liu Baoquan, who told stories in the Beijing dialect, replacing Hebei regional pronunciations. He absorbed the vocal music of Peking Opera and Beijing folk tunes, which he incorporated into his jingyun dagu, using the sihu and pipa as accompaniment in addition to three-stringed lutes and wooden clappers. jingyun dop is popular to this day in the Chinese capital. It is divided into three schools, headed by Liu Baoquan, Bai Yunpeng and Zhang Xiaoxuan, respectively. Liu attained the highest artistic achievement by earning the title King of Dagu.He has made the greatest contributions to dagu and won esteem as the leading artist in his field. in the wake of the emerpnce of the three schools, another appeared, known as the junior Bai School and headed by the brothers Bai Fengyan and Bai Fengming. artists were trained. Zhao Xueyi (Bai School), Yang Fengiie (Liu School), Liu Chun'ai (Luo Schoof) and Zhong Yuie (Liu School) rank as successful young artists.

1. Bai School Jingyun Dagu

The Bai School was founded by Bai YUnpeng, who initiated this style to Suit his own voice. Bai (1874-1952) was born in Baxian County, Hebei Province. He told stories at local fairs in his youth. He studied wooden clapper dagu under Shi Zhenlin, and in 191O he studied jingyun dagu. Bai sang slowly, and in a low voice avoiding high pitches. This made his singing different from that of Liu Baoquan and Zhang Xiaoxuan.

The Bai School stresses the clear pronunciation of words and the pairing of words in high and low tunes, and the phonetic stresses of words as against unstressed parts. Performers of this school are especially well versed in singing long paragraphs with sentences in parallel construction. in the story Dai YU Burns Her Poems, the artist uses eight parallels in saying the same phrase "ta ru jin" or "wo ru jin" (now that she or now that 1).

Yan Qiuxia inherited the legacy of the art of Bai Yunpeng. She used the true art of Bai YUnpeng when she performed Da Yu Bum Her Poems.Using her unusually sweet voice, she enriched the piece with the tenderness of a woman, expressing womanly feelings. Zhao Xueyi, a third-generation artist of the Bai School, excels her teachers by far There are not many rises and falls in her pitch. She sings in a touching manner the words "I allow you, l appreciate you, I love you," etc., in a total of 16 parallels in Weeping Before the Co the of Dtw Each time she sings, the audience joins in the chorus.

2. Luo Yusheng and Hearing Bells at Jian Ge

Luo Yusheng, born in 1914, is a contemporary artist, whose stage name is Xiao Caiwu. She started to study under Su Huanting at the age of nine in order to play laosheng (old man) roles in Peking Opera. At 14, she gave performances in singing without musical accompaniment in Nanjing. Then she formally switched to dagu at the age of 17. In 1934, Luo Yusheng studied the Liu School of dagu under Han Yonglu, the musician who accompanied Liu Baoquan in his performances. During the several decades of her career as a jingyun dagu artist, Luo has absorbed the good points of the Bai School and the junior Bai School, and incorporated them into her own style, which is based on that of the Liu School. She uses to the greatest advantage her sweet voice and resonance, in particular her pleasant trill, as she per forms fast notes one after the other, and achieves great success in a forceful and creaking voice, known as gadiao which rises to the highest pitch and deeply moves her audiences. Luo Yusheng won the title of Queen of the Golden Voice, especially for her representative work, Hong Mei Ge. She sings in a deep tone, which, exciting and moving, expressing plaintive and profound sorrow, fills the minds of her audience. Her words run thus: "A fair girl that is deeply wronged. Her name is Li Huiniang, the ill-fated one who dies for her love." The first sentence is sung in a high pitch, exciting and highly emotional, followed by the second sentence, which is in a low tone, pleading pathetically. The strongly contrasted rhythm arouses the most sincere sympathy from the audience. The words are Sung in a fast-moving tone that rises to the greatest height, in flowing rhythm and then falls to a very low pitch. This became the greatest hit tune of the era. (Fig. 1 -9)

Heang Bells Rwi at jtan Ge, a beautiful piece of poetry that expresses human emotions, was written by Han Xiaochuang, who lived in the Qing Dynasty. it describes the love-sick Emperor Xuanzong, who fled the capital during the Rebellion of An Lushan and Shi Siming. The emperor spent the first night at jian Ge. Amidst the ringing of bells in the wind and rain, he hardly slept, and remembered his beloved concubine Yang Yuhuan, who died tragically in Maweipo. The piece has been Sung by dagu artists for nearly a century, and was first Sung by Shandong dagu artists. it marked the highest achievement of the Luo School artists. Luo Yusheng expresses the bitter sadness and remorse of the emperor with strong and deep emotions, accompanied by sweet-sounding string music and the slow and light beating of drums. The strings convey sadness, which touches an emotional depth with the audience. When Luo Yusheng comes to the words: "Could it be that you were too lazy to take the journey with bow-shaped shoes under the early morning moon," she expresses truly deep human emotions that again touch the hearts of the audience. The style of the Luo School is manifested fully in her singing. Luo has sung this piece for more than half a century, reaching the peak of perfection in her own generation. More than half a million gramophone records of her songs have been sold. In 1989, she was awarded the Golden Record Prize by the China Record Company.

Sun Shuyun and Da XiXiang

Born in Beijing in 1922, Sun Shuyun learned to play the laosheng role in Beijing Opera from her father At 12, she studied town dagu Hearing Bells Ringing at Jian Ge (Selection) In ancient times, the Celestial Lady of Mount Wu appeared to the Duke of Xiang in a dream. l wish to have the same dream of you, and yet I fail to do so. Could it be that you were too lazy to take the journey with bow-shaped shoes under the early morning moon, or were you afraid of the cold as your shirt sleeves fail to keep out the wind that blows at drid night? Could it be that my lodging is a desolate scene and you feel it lonesome, or you do not want to come because of war? Could it be that your heart has lingering regrets or you think that I lacks sincerity? How can I explain that the Celestial Lady has failed to leave Luopu. My tears are drying up in my despair. My soul is greatly tormented, yearning to dream of you. under Wang Wenlu and made her debut at 14. She based herself on the Liu School in art and incorporated the good points of the vocal music of the Bai and junior Bai Schools. Her style was natural and unrestrained and her performance exquisite, so much so that she founded a school of her own. The stories she performed are of the shining spear and golden armor jousting type. She also excels in her presentation of lasting affections between boys and girls. Da XiXisng is an example of her fine singing, which the audience never seem to get tired of listening to and enjoying. Da XiXiang a popular tune, is very humorous. Using the simple fact that Cui Yingying has asked Hong Niang to invite Zhangjunrui to come, she employs humor and wit She is rich in witty talk, derived from the language of everyday life. She caIls into full play the technique of exaggeration in singing and narration which helps her Succeed in depicting the character and personality of Hong Niang. The Hong Niang created by Sun Shuyun is different from the ones in Kunqu Opera and Peking Opera. it is a character delineation of the type of girl found in popular Chinese folk art. Sun Shuyun gives us a unique type of artistic enjoyment rooted in folk Culture. She bases her singing and acting on the Liu School. Her tunes are loud, sonorous and pretty in a very feminine way. The neatly arranged sentences are well articulated, rendered lightly in a fast flowing manner She borrows the good points from Peking opera; for example, she walks in the symbolic manner of a woman player in the Peking opera, as she sings: "Walking across the corridor she soon arrived in the Western Chambec" This is a crucial touch which drives home a point otherwise difficult to explain, a touch that brings her work of art to life. Sun Shuyun pursues the study of the art of town dagu with an inflexible will, from which she never wavers. She inherits the leg ary of the Liu School not merely in form but also as an art brought to life by her own efforts. She pushes forward the development of the town dagu in keeping with the characteristics of a woman's voice on the stage. She is heralded as the prototype of dagu in a female voice. She sings Lian Huan ji (A Set of lnterlocking Stratagems) in town dmp, using the si ping tune in the Peking Opera, which she adapts and improves. She has a natural way in changing the tune without changing musical instruments, thereby making the town dagu and Peking opera blend harmoniously together Lian Huanji has been per formed by her for several decades normally as part of her encore program. The song has also been recorded. in the 198os Sun Shuyun toured America, canada and Hong Kong and per formed this piece, leaving a deep impression on her foreign, overseas Chinese and Hong Kong audiences.(Fig. 1-10)

Meihua Dagu

This is a category of dagu which flourished in Beijing and Tianjin towards the end of the Qing Dynasty and the beginning of the Republic of China. it uses Beijing dialect in singing. It underwent reform and adaptation in the 1920s by jin Wanchang, a Beiing dagu artist, who made the meihua dagu sweet and lovely in melody. Lu Chengke, the famous Tianjin stringed instrument player, learned a number of popular tunes and enriched as well as improved the dop melody and musical effect in accompaniment. He trained a number of girls to sing meihua dagu, including Hua Sibao, Hua Wubao, and Hua Xiaobao (Shi Wenxiu). The reformation by Lu led to the development of a woman's voice in singing high pitch. This resulted in the soft and sweet style of the school of meihua dmpwith high pitch tunes for female voices. it became known as the Lu or Hua School and differs from the jin Wanchang School, which is known for its delicate, minute, refined, elegant, bold, vigorous and beautiful rendition. The songs of meihua dagu are presented as short pieces. The more famous works include Thoughts of Husband Surging over the Mind of Wang Er jie and Daiyu Buries Flowers. After the 196Os meihua dagu again went through a period of re formation in vocal music. The routine opening words in the slow movement were dropped. This changed the style of using few words which drag on and on in singing. Fine music filled the air instead. The melody of meihua dagu becomes more elegant and pleasing to the ear Two Springs Reflect the Moon performed by the

young artist, ji Wei, leaves a deep impression on the audience. Ji Wei, born in 1956, sings with a beautiful, mellow and sweet voice and acts naturally with a poised manner She is credited with having made many innovations to the meihua dagu. She studied hen dagu at first. Later she changed her course and studied meihua dmp under Shi Wenxiu and Hua Wubao.

Beijing Qinshu

Beijing qinshu is a qu category of dagu which evolved in Beijing and is popular in Tianjin and Hebei Province. Around the 1940s, Zhai Qingshan, an artist of Tongxian County, versed in leting dagu introduced the dulcimer to accompany Bejjing qinshu. The dulcimer is shaped like a flat box, with a sound board and wires stretched across bridges. Later on the sihu is added, which is a four-stringed bowed instrument. This makes the art still further developed. After the 195os it formally became known as Beiing qinshu It puts the emphasis on a conversational style of singing, simple in tune and rhythm, with greater variations in clapping. It is an appropriate medium to tell stories in a vivid manner.

Guan Xuezeng, born in Beijing in 1922, studied dagu since childhood and emerged as a famous Beijing qinshu performing artist. He has a sonorous, sweet and loud voice, which pleases the eaL He sings as well as narrates. the singing is changed to narrative and vice versa in a natural rnanneL The words are clearly articulated and Guan Xuezeng is a good actoL He is appreciated by his audiences, both foreign and Chinese, on account of his singing and acting.

Guan Xuezeng is also a script writer in bis own right. The stories he sings are mostly written by himself. He knows well the psyche of his audience. He comes straight to the point at the beginning of the performance, seizing the attention of the audience with his melody. In Bian Da lu Hua which describes Min Ziqian, dressed in wintry garb, goes to plea for his mother, he sings: "Heaven does not seem to have any eyes. A great snow is falling. The bitter cold penetrates the flesh. Min Ziqian trembles in his coat, unable to use his hand to whip the horse." The artist couches his story in conversational language popular among the people. He shows deep sympathy for the character and describes the freezing character vividly The vocal music is very exquisite. Particularly moving is the plea of Min Ziqian: "Father, please take back your divorce letteL As your son, I plead that you will pardon my stepmother Li. Tolerate her I plea you will consider that she has nurtured us. If you divorce her, you will abandon the three of us. More is the pity."

As he sings, tears fill the eyes of the audience, who are rapt in attention. Guan Xuezeng, now over 7o years of age, still makes appearances on the stage and on Chinese TV from time to time.

Henan Zhuizi

This form of dagu originated in Henan. it became popular in Henan,Shandong and Anhui as well as in the cities of Tianjin and Beijing. Its main musical instrument is the Zhuizixia now known as the ZhuihU which looks some what like the three-stringed instrument. it is sung in the Henan dialect, hence the name Henan Zhuizi At the beginning of the 20th century, Qiao Qingxiu (1910-1944) and her teacher, Qiao Liyuan, who became her husband, made their appearance on the stage in Tianjin as traveling story tellers. The couple absorbed the good points of opera and other dagu art forms, enriching the Henan Zhuizi into a consummate art. They developed a refined and beautiful Henan Zhuzi evolving into the Qiao School of Zhuizi in the 1930s, appealing to both refined and popular taste. The Henan Zhuizi created by Qiao Qingxiu is beautiful in tone and unique in style. Qiao Qingxiu won the reputation of Queen of Zhuizi in fianjin. Her voice was sweet and articulation superb. She sang rhythmically and quickly in a great diversity of ways and in a very natural manner She was called the lady with the clever and ingenious tongue because the words she uttered were guileful and witty.

Meanwhile Cheng Yulan and Dong Guizhi were met with great success as Henan Zhuizi performers in Tianjin and Beijing. Eventually the three performers became known as the three schools in Henan Zhuizi Qiao Qingriu was versed in telling long stories, Such as the Generals of the yang Family and The Cases of Lord Bao. the short stories, Such as Thoughts of Her Husband Surging over the Mind of Wang Emp, yu Tang Chun, Lan Qiao Hu and Bao Yu Seeing Her Sick Girl Dai Yu are particularly well received by her audience. The stories have been recorded for the benefit of posterity. Guo Wewinqiu, another Henan Zhuinartist, is based on the Qiao School. She has developed the art still further with clearly articulated words. She is versed in story telling and singing which go on in a continuous line, reverberating in the ear in a steady stream. Stealing Pomegranates is a well known number performed by Guo Wenqiu, who delineates successfully the different characters of a couple, engaged to each other The male is a rather stupid sort of person, who makes his fiancee angry and plaintive. in this story the popular country style of quyi with its natural beauty is integrated with the beauty of the ornamental and goopous city style of quyi. The rich vocal music retains its local flavor and is sung in a sweet, exquisite and flowing manneL Stealing Pomegranates is a highly successful piece, which has been performed repeatedly on the quyi stage as an encore for more than half a century and is popular to this day. in the early 199Os Zhang Kai, a graduate of the North China Quyi Academy, made her debut on the stage in Tianjin. Her voice is resonate and sweet while her vocal music round and pleasant. She sings in the spirit of the Qiao School. Her progums: Dai Yu Laments over the Autumn and Qiu jiang reflect emotions conveyed by voice. They move the audience with genuine feelings and have won great audience appreciation.

Northern Shaanxi Shuoshu

Northern Shaanxi shuoshu is a kind of gU shu, flourishing in the Yan'an and Yulin districts in the north of Shaanxi Province. At first it was Sung by a blind person, playing a three-stringed instrument or pipa on his arm and leg was attached a set of wooden clappers to beat a pattern of sounds as accompaniment to music.

Northern Shaanxi shuoshu has been popular in the countryside for a long period of time. The words of the blind story teller are told in popular language, rich in local flavor To describe an ancient hero, the artist says that he has a head as big as the container to measure grain, with eyes as big as brass bells. The mouth is almost as big as a red basin when it is wide open. The teeth are as sharp as a steel awl. The hero waves something in the hand and stands on his feet as firmly as the door sill. The words are familiar to local Chinese folks. The contents of the story mostly deal with corrupt officials who harm in many ways upright and innocent people. Or the marriage of a gentleman with a lady is depicted. Much like a ballad, the Northern Shaanxi story telling is sung in a stirring, deep, bold and unrestrained manner, rich in local flavor and based on local Customs.

The noted player in this field is Han Qixiang (1915-1989). He became blind at a and studied story telling at 13, actually making a living with his stories. He was versed in blending popular small tunes and folk music with the vocal music of Northern Shaanxi shuoshu Han Qixiang attained great achievement in singing traditional stories and also wrote contemporary themes. Since the beginning of the 194os he compiled stories on revolutionary themes, such as Reunion of Liu Qiao, Story of Liberation and I Tell a Story to Chairman Mao. In the early 1980s he trained a number of young girls to tell stories, who won success at the Nationat Quyi Competition in 1986 and spread the impact of Northern Shaanxi shuoshu across the land.

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