JSS Call for Papers: Soundscapes of South-East Asia (cont'd)

 

Themes for submission may include but are not limited to: The sonic identity of any South-East Asian space; differences between Western and South-East Asian soundscapes; South-East Asian (contemporary) sound art; the role, position, and function of music in contemporary South-East Asian societies; sonic histories of South-East Asia; listening cultures of South-East Asia; politics of sounds or the sounds of politics in South-East Asia; the role of silence in South-East Asian societies and/or discourses; the role of sounds in South-East Asian religions; rural “versus” urban soundscapes.

 

The Journal of Sonic Studies is a peer-reviewed, online, open access journal providing a platform for theorists and artist-researchers who would like to present relevant work regarding auditory cultures, to further our collective understanding of the impact and importance of sound for our cultures. The editors welcome scholarly as well as artistic research and also expect all contributions to have a firm theoretical grounding. Priority is given to contributions that explicitly use the Internet as a medium, e.g. by inserting A/V materials, hyperlinks, and the use of non-conventional structures. JSS invites potential contributors to use the Research Catalogue as the platform in which the submission is presented (see http://www.research catalogue.net/

 

Other submission guidelines can be found at sonicstudies.org/guidelines.

 

 
 
 
 
 
Major survey of storysinging and -telling in China (cont'd)

 

Yu Huiyong theorizes on quyi to some extent. In the second part of the book, he presents thirteen representative genres of local storysinging and -telling, namely jingyun dagu 京韵大鼓 (Beijing drum songs), meihua dagu 梅花大鼓 (Plum Blossom Drum Songs), xihe dagu 西河大鼓 (West River Drum Songs), Jiaodong dagu 胶东大鼓 (Drum Songs from Jiaodong), Beijing qinshu 北京琴书 (Beijing story-telling), Shandong qinshu 山东琴书 (story-telling from Shandong), Henan zhuizi 河南坠子 (a type of storysinging from Henan accompanied by zhuizi fiddle plus foot percussion), Chaqu 岔曲 (another type of storysinging from Beijing, employing an eight-cornered framedrum), danxian pai ziqu 单弦牌子曲 (storysinging from Beijing, Tianjin and other parts of northern China, also employing an eight-cornered framedrum, and making use of qupai, fixed labelled melodies) Hebei shidiao 河北时调 and xiaodiao pai ziqu 小调牌子曲 (story singing genres from Hebei), Sichuan qingyin 四川清音, (storysinging from Sichuan), Yulin xiaoqu(榆林小曲)(narrative songs from Yulin in Shaanxi), and tanci 弹词   (narrative ballads from Suzhou and Shanghai).

 

Yu Huiyong analyzes these genres, with detailed attention for differences in musical structure. He also discusses their sources, performance structures, accompanying instruments, tunings and the kind of scores (quben 曲本) used. The book includes 22 excerpts of narrative songs in music notation to introduce differences in style, idioms and form. above. The author intended this book as a useful reference source for both students and scholars at professional music schools, for composers and music theorists, for folk music researchers, and also for more general use in music education.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In memoriam Cheng Gongliang (1940-2015)     (cont'd)

 

In Shanghai, Cheng studied with great masters like Liu Jingshao and Zhang Ziqian. He never felt obliged to pay hommage only to ‘historical’ ways of playing (e.g. by following the relatively steady tempi or rigid rhythms of the older generation), but also generously invested his own creativity in the art of the qin. Born in 1940 in Yixing, in Jiangsu Province, he represents both the heart of the old qin tradition and the spirit of musical innovation and pioneering. From 1956 onwards, he studied the qin at the Shanghai Conservatory, but also took lessons in modern composition and in Chinese traditional folk music.

 

After his graduation in 1956, he developed a talent for improvising, and did not mind cooperating with (for example) contemporary composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, or sharing the stage with musicians like flutist Chris Hinze, Indian drummer Ramesh Shotham or soprano Claron McFadden. Cheng greatly appreciated musical border crossings, and felt equally at home on concert stages in Munich, Hong Kong and Tokyo or in the intimacy of his private dwelling in Nanjing. As a young man he was firmly anchored in the history and political upheavals of his own native country. During the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) he stayed in Jinan, the capital of Shandong Province, where he was involved in the composition of one of the revolutionary model operas, The Red Lantern. Later on he began to teach at the Nanjing Arts Institute, and invested a lot of time in reconstructing early qin pieces from manuscript scores.

 

Cheng Gongliang gave numerous concerts, both in China and in Europe, and published a number of fine CDs, not least the double album Sound of Autumn, which Jiang Zemin, during his period as Head of State, brought as a gift on visits to other Asian states. In official Chinese media and in music journals, Cheng Gongliang's lifetime achievements as a qin performer,  composer and promoter have been amply commemmorated in the months following his death. Cheng Gongliang possessed various precious qin, first and foremost a thousand-year old instrument of the Tang dynasty called Qiu lai (‘Autumn aria’), which was made in AD 715, and also a fine bright-sounding qin from the Ming period (1368-1644), which he had named Wang you ( 'forgetting sorrow'). Recordings of his music can be purchased via Amazon, iTunes and several other providers on internet.

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
In memoriam Jack Body (1944-2015)    (cont'd)

 

Jack Body was not only a composer, but also an ethnomusicologist, photographer, university teacher and arts producer. Many people in the field of Asian music knew him because of his lifelong fascination with the music and cultures of South and East Asia, particularly Indonesia, but also China, and his tireless activities as a promoter of both avant-garde and traditional music in a wide range of countries along the Pacific. His own compositions were audibly influenced and inspired by this interest in Asian sounds and instruments.

Jack will be remembered, by most of those who knew him, as a remarkable artist, but what shone through in his music, and what captivated so many who had the pleasure to meet him in person, was his warm and generous personality, his extraordinary charm, his sense of humour, his endearing wisdom, which existed alongside a strong sense of commitment – to life, to art, and to his fellow human beings.

 

As an organizer, Jack had a significant impact on the promotion of Asian music in New Zealand, and on the promotion of New Zealand music both at home and abroad. As an ethnomusicologist, he published a number of CDs of traditional Asian music, including South of the Clouds, a 4-CD set released on Ode Records, documented rare field recordings of Chinese ethnomusicologist Zhang Xingrong.

 

Among his finest achievements as a composer was undoubtedly his opera Alley, based on the life of Rewi Alley, a well-known New Zealand-born writer and political activist who spent much of his life in China. The opera was premiered to wide acclaim at the 1998 NZ International Festival of the Arts. It featured two hua'er (regional folk song) singers from Gansu, as well as Beijing's Huaxia Chamber Ensemble and a small orchestra of New Zealand musicians. Anyone familiar with Jack Body's music would be able to list other outstanding pieces as fine samples of his art, not least the famous Three Transcriptions for string quartet which he wrote for the Kronos Quartet in 1988. They were based on transcriptions of Chinese minority songs. Many of Jack's works incorporated such references to Asian music, or directly employed Asian instruments, from gamelan to sheng and gangsa. Field recordings of traditional music often served as source material for his electronic works, or as an inspiration for the sound and shape of his compositions. In some instances, his idea was to transcribe the essence of a non-western musical source in such a way that it would become playable for western musicians.

 

Several of Jack's works explicitly engaged with his socio-political views and ideas on personal freedom, a recurring theme in his work being that of homosexuality. The Indonesian linguist Yono Soekarno was his partner for life.

Body was also active as a university teacher, and as an art photographer whose work was shown in New Zealand galleries. He received many awards and honours. In the spring of 2015, shortly before his death, he was named a New Zealand Icon, the highest award given by the New Zealand Arts Foundation, in recognition for all he had done and given for New Zealand. He was the first composer to be so honoured. He lived to his 70th birthday and was able to see the completion of a wonderful book called Jack! Celebrating Jack Body, composer, which was meant as a tribute to a wholly loveable man. It's a book full of stories and reminiscenses and many wonderful photographs, that will help to keep his memory alive for future generations. And then there is also his official website, where friends and colleagues can now pay him tributes (www.jackbody.com/pages/tributes.htm) There's a 70th year birthday greeting on video from composer Tan Dun, and a moving written tribute from his student Chris Bourke.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unique event: a seminar for music critics at the Central Conservatory (cont'd)

 

Some 100 musicologists, composition students, performers and journalists from all over China joined a dense programme of presentations, performances and debates, and the atmosphere was generally congenial and constructive. The idea was to find meaningful links between such fields as modern composition, music psychology, music aesthetics and music sociology.

 

Contributions were offered by composers Gao Weijie, Jia Daqun, Jia Guoping, Tang Jianping, Dieter Mack (from Lübeck, Germany), Hao Weiya, Mo Fan, Li Binyang, Lin Fangyi (from Taiwan), Xiang Min, and Qin Wenchen, musicologists and music historians like Wang Cizhao, Ju Qihong, Song Jing, Luo Qin, Ke Yang, Qian Renping, Zhang Huaying, Joseph Lam (from Michigan University USA), Dai Jiafang, Hai Zhen, Ming Yan, Frank Kouwenhoven (Chime Foundation, Leiden, The Netherlands), Torsten Müller (Folkwang Art University, Essen), performers like Lan Weiwei (pipa), the Contempo Ensemble from Beijing, pianists Xie Ya Ou and Xie Ya Shuangzi, and music journalists and critics like Frank Hilberg (Germany), Yang Yandi (Shanghai Conservatory), Zhang Meng, editor of the journal Renmin Yinyue (People's Music), Wen Yonghong and Gao Fuxiao, vice-editors of the Zhongyang yinyue xueyuan xuebao, music journal of the Central Conservatory, Chen Quanyou, vice-editor of the journal Yinyue yanjiu (Music Study) in Beijing and many others. The project was generously supported by the China National Arts Fund and the Goethe Institute in Beijing. It is to be expected and hoped that proceedings from the seminar will be published eventualy, and that this initiative will get a committed follow-up in the near future.

 

 

 

 

 

New concert hall and facelift for the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra (cont'd)

 

The arena-like interior of the main performance hall is a bit reminiscent of the Berlin Philharmonic, but more intimate. Woodmade structures and nutbrown colours dominating the areas for seating as well the stage and create a warm atmosphere. Acoustic designer Yasuhisa Toyota has layered both performance halls with wooden poles and panels modeled by computer. The wood of the floors, walls and stage has been left unpainted and unvarnished for its sound reflecting and absorbing properties. Architect Arata Isozaki continued Toyota’s themes with an incorporation of nature, from the halls’ layouts to the subdued color scheme to the garden atriums which interrupt and illuminate the mostly underground structure, and of waves throughout the building.

 

The smaller concert hall is box-shaped, with a straight stand for the audience at one end, and a big empty floor space. It doubles for rehearsals and recording activities. The sound of both spaces, particularly that of the orchestral atrium, is excellent. The new building, located on Fuxing street, at a stone's throw from the city's Music Conservatory, is now probably one of the best symphony concert halls available in China. More than 100 concerts have already been performed in this new venue, a big step up for the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, which performed only 30 concerts a year in the past, in the old venues (primarily the Shanghai Oriental Art Center and Shanghai Grand Theatre).

 

During its first season in the new hall, the full orchestra played 35 times, and its smaller chamber orchestra and other sub-groups gave additional performances. Responses to the new venue were highly positive. Well-known conductors like Zubin Mehta, Charles Dutoit, Vladimir Ashkenazy and Krzysztof Penderecki and top visiting orchestras such as the Wiener Philharmoniker, Orchestre de Paris, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Munchener Philharmoniker and NDR Sinfonierorchester already tested the new hall, and were duly impressed. The only setback: the interior of the big hall was not entirely finished in 2014 yet, and SSO had to use the summer period of 2015 to do extra panelling and carry out some final construction work.

 

According to SSO's vice president Zhou Ping, the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra plans to perform about one-third of all the events at the symphony hall and to organize another one-third under SSO auspices. Remaining concerts will be produced by others who rent the facility. Pianist Lang Lang served as artist in residence during the first season. The orchestra's current artistic director and principal conductor, Yu Long, also acts as leader of the China Philharmonic Orchestra in Beijing, and as artistic advisor of the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra. Meanwhile, SSO also adopted a new logo to underpin the new era which this hall heralds for the orchestra: the logo consists of interlocking circles which shape up to the letters SSO.

 

The show time at Shanghai Symphony Hall has been moved from 19.00 PM to one hour later, in consideration of downtown traffic. With the new schedule, spectators will be able to take their time and have dinner before reaching the concert, and then still take public transport home when concerts end around 21.30 PM. For more information (in English) about the concert hall you can consult: http://www.shsymphony.com/news-detail-id-8.html

 

 

 

 
 
Music Conservatory Websites in China (and an impressive site on Chinese instruments, cont'd)
 

 

Most of the Conservatory websites mainly provide brief factual information on departments, study fields and study regulations, and are in Chinese only; some have a few sections in English (if the button is working).

The Shanghai site is exceptional in that it links to an archive of historical Chinese and Asian instruments, including music instruments of regional minorities. It's possible to take a virtual tour of the Eastern Instruments Museum (Dongfang yueqi bowoguan), which is affiliated with the Conservatory and is also located in Shanghai (on Gao An street, no.18 lane). If you click on the icon, you can move to target points in the floor plan of the museum, and zoom in on instruments and explanations. It's then also possible to look at threedimensional displays of individual instruments: objects in photo still begin to spin around if you click the spin button). No musical sounds yet, but we can only assume that that will be a matter of time...

 

Apart from this, the Shanghai Conservatory is planning a future substantial online archive of field recordings, under the auspices of the Conservatory's Centre for Ritual Music Studies. The archive is currently still under construction, and not yet available on the internet yet. More generally, we expect these and the other Conservatory sites to gain growing relevance over time, so here's a preliminary list:

 

The Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing provides news in both English and Chinese on conservatory concerts, competitions and prize-winning student performances and more on: http://www.ccom.edu.cn/news/

The Shanghai Conservatory of Music's website can be visited at http://www.shcmusic.edu.cn/

It has sections in English, but its language button currently seems to be disfunctioning, or perhaps the English parts are still under cosntruction. For a virtual tour of the Eastern Instruments Museum, you can go to here.From there, if you click on 全景漫游 you will get to see an animation film with music which you can skip, after which a floorplan of the museum appears. Click on any of the blue target points to enter the museum and take a look around. If you click on the icon of any individual instrument, that instrument will pop up in a separate window with extra information, and you can make it spin and examine it from all angles.

 

The China Music Conservatory in Beijing can be found at http://www.ccmusic.edu.cn/ccmusic/mainweb/index.html 

The Wuhan Conservatory of Music at http://www.whcm.edu.cn/

The Sichuan Conservatory of Music at http://www.sccm.cn/ 

All three have English language sections which appear to be outdated.

 

The websites of the other conservatories (in Chinese only) are:

Zhejiang Conservatory: www.zjcm.edu.cn/news/xyjj/index.html

Tianjin Conservatory: http://www.tjcm.edu.cn/

Xi'an Conservatory: http://www.xacom.edu.cn/

Xinghai Conservatory: http://www.xhcom.edu.cn/

Shenyang Conservatory: http://www.sycm.com.cn/

Harbin Conservatory: http://www.hrbcm.edu.cn/

 

 

 

 

 
 
Stars from China lining up in western classical music (cont'd)

 

 

Wang Yuja will tour with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Asia (Tchaikovsky Second Piano Concerto, in Taipei and Japan) later this month and in the first half of November, with more concerts coming up in Los Angeles and with the Moscow Philharmonic and St Petersburg Philharmonic in Russia, then on to Florence to play Beethoven, Brahms and Mozart under the baton of Zubin Mehta, and to Barcelona for a sturdy bout of Messiaen, much of this within the span of one month, an incredible schedule. Quite regardless of her short and provocative dresses, which are hotly debated on the internet, and attract as much excitement as her playing – we feel that she comes out an absolute winner, simply one of the world's finest classical pianists of today.

Meanwhile, still younger Chinese stars are lining up to climb the Everest of bravoura playing and heart-melting lyricism in western classical music. What to think of the electrifying art of pianist Zhang Zuo, finalist in the 2013 Queen Elizabeth Competition, and now in the final season of her two-year residency with the BBC's

Flagship New Generation Artists program? She may think that a great career needs a suitable artist's name, and promotes herself as Zee Zee, quasi-turning herself into a female equivalent of Lang Lang. But indeed, her technique and sense of drama sometimes hardly fall short of Lang Lang's: she plays like a tiger, and draws her listeners into the music with violence if needs be. Her greatest weapon is brilliant timing. Beethoven and Schubert sonatas may sometimes come out a bit heavy-handed, but in pieces like Liszt's Feux follets Zhang Zuo can conjure up tremendous power and fairytale-like lightness. Concert Hall De Doelen in Rotterdam invited her in May this year to replace Li Yundi in a concert, and Zee Zee's star is now rising very rapidly. She has concerts ahead at the Beijing Music Festival, and with the Warsaw Philharmonic under Yu Long, the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Andrew Litton and the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra. For more on Zhang Zuo you can visit her site (www.zhang-zuo.com) or watch her on Youtube in Beethoven and Tchaikovsky during the 2013 Queen Elisabeth Competition.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Major survey of storysinging and storytelling in China (cont'd)

In the first part of the book, the author outlines his definition of folk art narrative forms (quyi 曲艺), and discusses a classification of the many different regional genres. He theorizes on quyi to some extent. In the second part of the book, he presents thirteen representative genres of local storysinging and -telling, namely jingyun dagu 京韵大鼓 (Beijing drum songs), meihua dagu 梅花大鼓 (Plum Blossom Drum Songs), xihe dagu 西河大鼓 (West River Drum Songs), Jiaodong dagu 胶东大鼓 (Drum Songs from Jiaodong), Beijing qinshu 北京琴书 (Beijing story-telling), Shandong qinshu 山东琴书 (story-telling from Shandong), Henan zhuizi 河南坠子 (a type of storysinging from Henan accompanied by zhuizi fiddle plus foot percussion), Chaqu 岔曲 (another type of storysinging from Beijing, employing an eight-cornered framedrum), danxian pai ziqu 单弦牌子曲 (storysinging from Beijing, Tianjin and other parts of northern China, also employing an eight-cornered framedrum, and making use of qupai, fixed labelled melodies) Hebei shidiao 河北时调 and xiaodiao pai ziqu 小调牌子曲 (story singing genres from Hebei), Sichuan qingyin 四川清音, (storysinging from Sichuan), Yulin xiaoqu(榆林小曲)(narrative songs from Yulin in Shaanxi), and tanci 弹词   (narrative ballads from Suzhou and Shanghai).

 

Yu Huiyong analyzes these genres, with detailed attention for differences in musical structure. He also discusses their sources, performance structures, accompanying instruments, tunings and the kind of scores (quben 曲本) used. The book includes 22 excerpts of narrative songs in music notation to introduce differences in style, idioms and form. above. The author intended this book as a useful reference source for both students and scholars at professional music schools, for composers and music theorists, for folk music researchers, and also for more general use in music education.