EOL 6: Birth of a New Mode? - Notes (Dujunco)


1. I briefly talk about the Chaozhou modal system in the entry on "Chaozhou Xianshiyue" in The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, Vol. 7: East Asia (pp. 211-16) in the process of talking about modal variation, one of three types of melodic variation employed by Chaozhou musicians in performing xianshi. However, I do not discuss nor analyze the nature of Chaozhou modality and modal practice at length as I do here in this article, aided by audio examples and musical illustrations. [back]

2. A notable exception to this is modal variation of the piece "Gold Shaking in the Willows," as will be explained later in the article and illustrated in Example 2. [back]

3. It should be noted, however, that in the audio recordings linked to the transcribed musical examples, 1 or do is not always pitched at F and may actually be closer to F# or G. Even more way off is the do (1) in the audio example of the excerpt of "Gold Shaking in the Willows" in the liuzitou (LZT) submode as shown in Example 2. It can be heard pitched at D. [back]

4. Ersipu (literally "two-four notation") is a type of pitched notation exclusive to Chaozhou xianshi.. [back]

5. Chen Tianguo (1989) argues that ersipu appears to have been designed with the touxian two-stringed fiddle in mind. [back]

6. In Chinese traditional music, the term ban has many meanings which all have to do with keeping time. Here, it refers to the division of a measure into strong and weak beats. [back]

7. For more on ban variation, see Chen Tianguo 1981 and Chen Wei 1983 For the different possible forms of cui, see Chen Tianguo 1988. [back]

8. There were, however, two instances during the course of my fieldwork wherein I witnessed and recorded successive performances of a melody in taoqu form, each one in a different diaoti. One involved the melody "Lady of the Green Willow," and the other one, "Gold Shaking in the Willows." In each case, it is not clear to me whether the musicians did this as a matter of course or especially for my benefit so that I could easily learn to compare and distinguish between the different modal variants of the same piece. [back]

9. Again, there are exceptions to this. For example, "Red Lotus" is sometimes performed with the first 20 or so measures in H3H6 and continues on for a while in Live5, followed by several measures in L3H6, and the remaining measures in two other diaoti which would be discussed later, tiezhi L3L6 and tiezhi H3H6. This particular qupai is a relatively long one, consisting of a total of 108 measures. Changing to another diaoti midway can be viewed as a technique by which xianshi musicians seek to break the monotony of performing the piece in one diaoti from start to finish. [back]

10. See Dujunco 1984. [back]

11. Since the tuning of the pitches of the various Chaozhou xianshi modal scales is not equal-tempered, I have chosen to use cipher notation in addition to Western staff notation in all the musical examples except for Example 8 in order to avoid misrepresentation and for ease in comparing and differentiating between variants of a qupai at a glance. See Figure 1 for the approximate pitches denoted by the numbers in the notation. The transcriptions of variants of melody in the featured musical examples are based on various renderings recorded on different occasions during fieldwork. Each of the transcribed melodies is a composite and do not represent the part of any particular instrument. Many of the melodic ornamentations and embellishments executed by the musicians as heard in the audio examples are glossed over, resulting in a relatively sketchy representation of the melodies. [back]

12. According to my musician informants, the diaoti in which a piece is being performed should be clearly established right in the opening measure. During a typical music session, it is not customary for the musicians to discuss the program. It is up to the musician playing the lead instrument (normally the erxian fiddle) to decide what melody to perform and he simply proceeds to play the opening measures. However, he has to render the initial melodic phrase of the melody in such a way that the rest of the musicians in the ensemble are informed in no uncertain terms of what is to be performed and the diaoti it is in. In order to be able to do this, the lead player therefore has to have a sound grasp of the various Chaozhou diaoti and good improvisational skills. [back]

13. In addition to diao, the terms diaoshi ("modal forms") and diaoxing ("modal characteristics") have also often been used interchangeably by Chinese scholars to refer to mode in traditional Chinese music. See Su and Chen 1989 for a more extensive discussion of the distinct meanings of these terms and why they are not adequate labels for mode in the context of Chaozhou xianshi music. [back]

14. Although it is customary for the erxian fiddle player to assume the lead in the performance of xianshi, there are times when the performer of the yangqin dulcimer assumes this role. [back]

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