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Distinctive Opera Music

In comparison with other forms of music, Chinese opera music, which is integrated with opera, has to meet the dramatic need to demonstrate the characters and create an atmosphere for the development of the story. It has its own special structural form, techniques of expression and artistic skills. It has a strong national artistic style quite different from that of the Western drama and Western musical traditions created by professional musicians. Chinese opera music is a folk creation, and to a great extent it has kept several characteristics of folk music. First, the opera music comes from the local people and is Popular among the people. It has close relations with dialects, folksongs and the music used to accompany recital-and-song performances. Second, opera music is not created by specific musicians; it is an outcome of long periods of development of folk music and group creation through several generations, which represents the artistic accomplishments of the people of many generations. Third, the opera music has been carried forward orally and undergone great changes. Its tunes have changed frequently, owing to the different conditions and dialects of the singers. As a result, the same tune will change into different tunes, with different styles and dialects. The music of the same opera will develop into different schools. Traditional opera music has constantly changed and developed in this way, as did folk music. Fourth, in the historical process of the creation of opera music, the performer is himself the composer, and the process of performing is also a process of composition of music. All operas, including ethnic-minority operas, demonstrate these characteristics of folk music. only the Kunju Opera was later reformed by Wei Liangfu, and its tune and music are determined by specific musicians and composers. But both the drama and the music are different from their Western counterparts. Opera songs are sung by artists flexibly, and reflect folk characteristics.

Another characteristic of Chinese opera music is its conventions for musical composition, tune systems, the names of the tunes, and gong and drum techniques. It covers a wide range. The singing, reciting, acting and acrobatics of all kinds of operas are connected with the integration and application of musical conventions. Creativity and tradition have been blended after a long period practice.

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Reform and Development of Opera Music
Over the centuries, opera music has had to confront two problems. The first is how to carry forward and develop the traditions of folk opera music, and enrich and improve it. The second is how to reflect new lifestyles and create new images. In the past four decades, opera musicians, actors, actresses and accompanists have achieved great progress in the reform of songs, tunes and accompaniment. Updating traditional operas and creating new ones (using historical or modern plots and themes) is also a constant challenge.
Composition of Opera Music
The development of Chinese opera music went through three stages. In the first generation, the songs were composed of long and short lines. The singer sang solo, and the orchestra only came in at the end of each line.

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