You are here > Home > Quick Navigation > Performing Arts > Art Quyi

Yuequ, or Guangdong Melodies

Introduction of Yuequ, or Guangdong Melodies

yuequ means Guangdong melodies. The music is delicate, sweet, tender and soft. It is an important member of the family of Chinese quyi Sung in the GuangZhou, or Cantonese, dialect, it is popular in Guangdong Province, the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Hong Kong and Macao. In addition, it has spread to Southeast Asia and North America, where overseas Chinese of Guangdong origin have settled in large numbers.

The source of yuequ is Cantonese Opera arias, without make up or acting. in the Daoguang reign period of the Qing Dynasty, the Ba yin Ban lived on per forming Cantonese Opera arias, using vocal music and the theatrical speech of yueju, or Cantonese opera, to express the different roles. Later, blind women singers traveled from street to street and sang the different roles of theatrical characters. They further developed the art of Ba Yin Ban, with each singer taking on several roles of stage characters. Their songs were popular for over 6o years. The most famous opera arias by the blind singers were eight in number, among which were Baili Xi Meets His Wife, Datyu buriss Flowers and Deserting Chu and Going over to Han.

Following the establishment of the Republic of China, sighted females made their appearance as Cantonese singers in tea houses, replacing the theatrical speech with Cantonese dialect. Falsetto was abandoned, and replaced with a true vocal chord. Voices were divided into the male ones dahou and pinghou, as well as a female one known as Zihou. This marked the most flourishing period of Cantonese music, becoming known as the "age of female yuequ singers."

For nearly a century, yuequ has forged ahead with the march of time. it blends well with other arts, making innovations and enriching itself. Vocal music, in partcular, developed well. For instance, yuequ has adapted a great many things from yuejU to compose poems in a given ci tune. The ban, clapper, and huang or harmoniphone are used. It makes use of the Dragon Boat quyi southern pronunciation, Cantonese folk songs of praise or eulogy, the "wooden fish'- song, and ditties to compose the ci tunes. The two-stringed gaohu and zither, its chief musical instruments, are played, together with saxophones, violins and electronic organs. Yuequ is derived from yueju. The two have blended with each other in vocal music over a long period of time. They basically produce the same melodies and perform the same programs, due to their intimate relationship, which leads to their common development.

The Different Yuequ Schools

During the 1930s and 1940s there were many groups singing pinghou. Zhang YUe'er, Xiao Mingxing, Xu Liuxian and Zhang Hui fang emerged as heads of the four major pinghou schools. Xiao Mingxing's unique style had the greatest impact. For nearly 50 years those who sang pmpou had studied the xing style. Four generations of Xing School artists have erneopd. They are: Deng Manwei, Li Shaofang, Huang Shaomei and Liang Yurong.

1. Xiao Mingxing(Deng Manwei) and her pupil Huang Shaomei

Xiao Mingringwas originally named Deng Manwei (1911-1943). Born in Sanshui, Guangdong Province, she studied the art of singing from her childhood. Already well known at the age of 11, she moved her audiences with her low, echoing voice and mild tone. She was very sentimental, and full of pathos. Auton Bitterness, song Heard Midnight and Where is My Friend Who Knows Me Best are her representative works. Hers was a tragic life. in 1943 she had to appear on the stage despite being ill. She spat blood in the midst of her performance. She died at the age of 32. Her Xing style still enjoys great popularity, and constitutes the most popular pinghou school in the yuequ genre.

Known as a third-generation artist of the Xing School, Huang Shaomei was born in Panyu, Guangdong Province, in 1931. She studied singing under Li Shaofang, who was a pupil of Xiao Mingxing. Huang had a unique way of singing to express her emotions in the Xing style. At the age of 13, she made her stage debut, with a soft voice, flowing style and highly emotional tunes. Her Cao Zjian Meets the Goddess of the Luoshui River has been performed time and time again for over 4o years. it has been passed on to her pupil, Liang Yurong. The Blood-stained Peach Blossom Fan and Tang Bohu Thinks of Qiuxiang are Huang Shaomei's favorit Autumn Moon on Pinghu Lake (Selection) Infatuated with love but low in strength, I hold my beloved wife lightly in my arms. Still in an intoxicated state, the two of us sleep in bed. Our hearts are united as one. As I loosen her belt, I find she is not as thin as before. I recall how we had been separated, one in the east and the other in the west. How sad it was! When I arrived at the embankment, the wind was blowing and the rain was falling. The scene was so sad. My heart becomes all the sadder as I remember my infatuation in the olden days. items, which have been recorded on CD. (Fig. 1-19) The above is a selection from Autumn Moon on pinghu Lake by Xiao Mingxing (Deng Manwei).

2. Dahou Singers Xiong Feiyin and Li Danhong

Dahou is Sung in true vocal chords at a high pitch. it is for a man's voice, full of power and grandeuL The most noted singer of this genre in the 1920s and 1930s was Xiong Feiyin (1907-1969), who was born in Guangzhou and had started to study yueju at the age of 12. When she was 13, she studied quyi under Chen Kunchen, the renowned quyi artist. She made her debut in Hong Kong at the age of 14. She possessed a bold voice, which captivated her audiences. The words she articulated were loud, rhythmic and clear She had enormous energy The roles she played as Li Kui or Zhang Fei were magnificent. She had a rich repertoire of some 1oo items, which she performed all her life. Of these, Fighting Ma Chao at Night, yue Fei Withdraws His Troops and Wu song Ram Pages at the Lion Pavilion are the ones best remembered.

Another well known singer of this kind of quyi is Bai Yanzi, born in 1919 in Nanhai County, Guangdong Province. She started to study Pinghou and Zihou under her father when she was seven years old. She became a traveling singer at the age of 11. She had a loud voice, with a high pitch. She pronounced her words very clearly and her songs were sonorous and forceful. She had a unique style and was particularly good at singing Niu Gao Tears Up the mperial Edict and Zhou Yu Xie Biao. Bai Yanzi trained young people to sing, and Li Danhong, one of her pupils, sings dahou well, with an independent form of singing in strong and soft tones. Her favorites are The Herdsman and Two Springs Relfect the Moon, which have been recorded on CD and sold in large numbers.

Today yuequ is sung as sweet and beautiful melodies with a graceful posture by artists across the globe. In spite of its local dialect, yuequ has a strong artistic appeal to music lovers, no matter what language they speak.

Quick Navigation

New Article