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Ritual music in a North China village : the continuing Confucian and Buddhist heritage Du, Yaxiong


Beixinzhuang village, with a population o f about one thousand, is located in the suburbs of Beijing, about twenty-five kilometres to the southeast of the city centre. In 1951, some youths of the village organized a music association and started to learn Bei]ing yinyue (jingyinyue "Beijing music") from a monk living in the village. Over the past half century, the main goal of the Association has been to maintain this music tradition, its most important activity being the performance of music for funeral ceremonies. There has been great change over this period, and the Association has been struggling to keep its tradition. In order to survive, it has had to enlarge its repertoire to fit the changing society. Today, although their repertoire has been greatly expanded, with many different styles o f music added, the most important pieces are of two types: Beijing yinyue pieces learned from the monk, and popular songs adopted mainly from the media. The present work is a study of the Beixinzhuang Music Association and its repertoire as influenced by Confucianism, the predominant traditional ideology o f China, and in terms of the fundamentals of traditional Chinese music theory. Chapter I introduces the cultural background and existing research of Beijing yinyue. Chapter II reviews Confucian belief in theory and practice. Chapter III addresses the organization o f the Association and its activities, and Chapter IV introduces its material culture. Chapter V analyzes the local repertoire and Chapter VI examines the integration of this music into the funeral rituals. A postscript attempts to explain the reasons for change in the repertoire.

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