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An Audience of One : The Private Music of the Chinese Literati Yung, Bell


To most ethnomusicologists, music is a social activity with the main goal of interacting with an audience. China’s qin music, often associated with the literati who play primarily for themselves as a private activity, is an exception. While qin ideology stresses extra-musical meaning and cultural significance, it is also an expressive art. In this talk I will argue that, in playing privately, the player turns inwardly toward himself rather than outwardly toward an audience. In such a performance context, music and musicality need to be assessed by criteria different from those commonly accepted for public music.

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