Music Analysis: Jiangnan Sizhu

1330 Words 6 Pages
Jessica Liu
MUSI 2361
Paper One: Jiangnan sizhu The term sizhu is a musical term that has been used all throughout history in East Asian countries especially Taiwan and China, which describes what the instruments in the genre are made of. Si meaning silk, which is what the strings are made up of in string instruments, and zhu meaning bamboo, which is what the wind instruments in Jiangnan sizhu, are made of. Despite the fact that sizhu is used in different countries, Jiangnan is a “geographical term, literally meaning “south of the river.” The region commonly referred to as Jiangnan is the area along the south bank of the lower Yangtze valley, encompassing parts of the provinces of Zhejiang, Jiangsu, and Anhui and including the cities of Shanghai,
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The yangqin is like the marimba except it “has two bridges with eight (occasionally seven) courses of strings passing over each bridge”, and “the strings are of bronze and struck with two flexible bamboo beaters” (Witzleben 50-51). In Jiangnan sizhu, the yangqin is relatively new and despite that, the yangqin is one of the most important instruments in the sizhu genre. There are many techniques that can manipulate the sounds made. For example, “the player strikes a beater against the string only once; but when the force and angle are correct, the flexibility of the beater causes it to bounce on the string, resulting in about three repetitions of the note” (Witzleben 52). The yangqin is set on a small table on often have decorations on the side facing the audience. It is known to have a sharp sound and a large range (more recent yangqin can have a range between three to four …show more content…
There are profession musicians who play sizhu but in clubs, the majority of them are amateurs. Shanghai is one of the most prominent places for clubs, as there are many different types of clubs. There are those who meet every once in a while with different members attending each time and those who are specific to a certain group of people. Clubs can be found in a range of places such as offices, auditoriums, homes, as well as other public places. “A typical afternoon session lasts about three hours. Shortly before two o’clock, musicians begin to arrive; the musical instruments, which are usually collectively-owned, are brought out from a back room where they are stored” (Witzleben 242). At the beginning of each club meeting, there are typically only four to five players in the ensemble playing the yangqin, erhu, pipa, and dizi. After that, the size begins to increase and decrease as players enter and leave wherever the club is being held as music is being played. Where the musicians’ sit depends on what instrument they play. The yangqin is typically almost at the end of one side, surrounded by the erhu and

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