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Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Traditional Chinese Music Instrument

Yehu - Bowed String Family

The history of Chinese traditional music can be dated back to as early as 7000 years ago based on the discovery of a flute made of bone in the Neolithic Age. The Chinese music is said to have been influenced by the teachings of Confucius, who thought of music as a means of soothing one's passions. And it is an instrument of purifying a person's thoughts.

During the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368-1911), the art of traditional opera developed rapidly and diversely in different regions of China. Various types of traditional music instruments have been used for opera performance. The tradition of opera has followed where the Chinese migrate to all over the world particularly South East Asia in the 1920s to 1940s.

Amongst others, the bowed string family of music instruments often play an important roles as opera background music. Here in Malaysia, particularly the Penang state, the traditional opera still being performed during some religion events (Taoism). The used of the traditional bowed string family of music instruments remain unchanged over the years despite of availabilities of modern instruments. The traditional instruments are played mainly by older generation.

Ah Chek is a man who loves traditional Chinese music since his childhood. His passion has made him a musician in a local traditional opera team. He plays various type of instruments, but he has a special passion for Yehu. Ye means coconut and the instrument sound box is made of a coconut shell. He hand made the Yehu himself, and has also made many for friends all over the country.

The footage below recorded Ah Chek doing some practises with his Yehu in a warm morning behind his house by a seaside. A short interview with Ah Chek also recorded at the end of the footage in Hokkien, a Penang local Chinese dialect.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Dragon Dance

Dragon Dance, a form of traditional dance in Chinese culture. It is usually perform during festive celebrations such as Chinese New Year. It symbolises good luck and prosperity in the coming year for all people.

The Dragon Dance originated from China during Han Dynasty. Dragon is a mythical creature revered in Chinese culture. The emperors of ancient China considered themselves as the dragon. It is also the emblem of Imperial Authority. It symbolises supernatural power, goodness, fertility, vigilance and dignity.

The Dragon Dance has become an important part of Chinese traditional culture all over the world. It is also a form of performance art which catches interest of even many non-Chinese.

Dragon Dance footage taken by a friend, Ah Huat, during a cultural show in Penang Island, Malaysia, October 2007: