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Guangxi WanChang

Guangxi WanChang

This form is called wenchang for short. it is prevalent in putonghua speaking areas north of Guilin, in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, and especially in Guilin, Liuzhou and Lipu. Guangxi wenchang is the representative form of quyi in this region, having reached here early in the reign of the Qing Dynasty Emperor Daoguang.

Sung in the Guilin dialect and much influenced by local folk songs and local drama, arias predominate in wenchang with dialogues playing a secondary role. Several people sit and sing the traditional opera parts, such as the young man, young woman and clown. The number of singers is determined by the number of characters or parts to be Sung. Each singer also plays an instrument, which may be a dulcimer, pipa, erhu, flute, clappers or a gong. The players may be dressed in theatrical costumes, in which case the performance is called wenchang guayi, meaning "with costume." After the 1960s wenchang came to be performed in theaters. Another form of wenchang is called zouchang which involves singing while walking or dancing.

The vocal music of Guangxi wenchang is divided into dadiao and xiaodiao. The narratives of the songs are based on historical romances or tales of the supernatural written during the Ming and Qing dynasties. The best known are The Story of the jade Pin, Thc Story of White Snake and The Westerm Bower Descriptions of beautiful scenery in Guilin have appeared in the form of Guangxi wenchang in recent years. Examples are strolling in a Picture The Fairyland of Gde and A Visit to the Seven Star Cave at Night.

The Different Schools of Guangxi Wenchang and Their Leading Singers

Guangxi wenchang is divided into different schools, according to whether they are professional or amateur In the early years the singers were mostly blind persons, who either formed wanziban troupes or entertained rich households singly. Some were itinerant minstrels who sang from street to street to eke out a living. Their vocal music was simple and without much embellishment. They were known as the School of the Blind. Amateurs with similar artistic tastes became organized into wanziguan or wenchangshe (associations). They sang to entertain themsefves. They studied the art together and endeavored to improve it. They were known as Guangpai or the Shining School. Persons who won fame for performing Guangxi rmchapin the old days included Li Zizhong, Jin Zichen, Wang Renhe and Liu Yuying. After the founding of the People's Republic of China, the department of the Chinese government in charge of culture organized the quyi artists, and formed the Guilin City Quyi Group in 1962. The quyi artists naturally included the Guangxi wenchapsingers. in this way Guangri wenchapbecame well developed, and young people were trained by Wang Renhe and Liu Yuying to sing it. As a result, a batch of masterly performers emefged, such as He Hongyu, Chen Xiufen, YangJifu and Li Weiqun.

Today GuangXi wenchang has new contents and performance style, devoted to extolling the beautiful Guilin scenery with the magic charm of traditional art.

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