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Peking Opera, which originated in the late 18th century, is a synthesis ofop.jpg (22587 bytes) music, dance, art and acrobatics. It is the most influential and representative of all operas in China.
Peking Opera can be divided into "civil" pieces characterized by singing, and "martial" ones featuring acrobatics and stunts. Some operas are a combination of both.
The operatic dialogues and monologues are recited in Beijing dialect, and some of the words are pronounced in a special fashion, unique to the opera.
Peking Opera has "chang"(singing),"nian"(dialogue),"zuo"(acting)and "da"(martial arts) as its basic performing forms."chang" is mainly performed in the tunes of "xipi"(used for expressing strong emotions) and "erhuang"(used for expressing deep and sorrowful feelings)."Nian" is mainly done in the tones of "yun bai" and "jing bai"."Zuo" means the body movements (dancing and acting) of the actor or actress."Da" is the martial art with acrobatic actions.
The music of Peking opera is that of the "plate and cavity style".Its
jinghu1.gif (4706 bytes) melody with harmonious rhythms is graceful and pleasing to the ears. The melody may be classified into two groups: "Xipi" and "erhong", guiding pattern, original pattern, slow pattern, quick pattern, desultory pattern being their chief patterns. The performance is accompanied by a tune played on wind instruments, percussion instruments and stringed instruments, the chief musical instruments being jinghu (a two-stringed bowed instrument with a high register), yueqin( a four-stringed plucked instrument with a full-moon-shaped sound box), Sanxian( a three-stringed plucked instrument), suona horn, flute drum, big-gong, cymbals, small-gong, etc.


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