Yayue

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Yayue (Chinese: 雅樂; pinyin: yǎyuè; Wade–Giles: ya³-yüeh⁴; literally: "elegant music", Japanese: 雅楽; Korean: 아악; Vietnamese: Nhã Nhạc) was originally a form of Chinese classical music that was performed at imperial courts. The basic conventions of yayue were established in the Western Zhou. Together with law and rites, it formed the formal representation of aristocratic political power.

The term yayue first appeared in the Analects,[1][2] where yayue was considered by Confucius to be the kind of music that is good and beneficial, in contrast to the popular music originated from the state of Zheng which he judged to be decadent.[3][4] Yayue is therefore regarded in the Confucian system as the proper form of music that is refined and improving, and one that can symbolize good and stable governance.[5] In its usual, more restricted, sense it means the kind of solemn ceremonial music used in court, as well as ritual music which include those developed later for Confucian rituals; in a broader sense, yayue is a form of music that is distinguishable from the popular form of music termed suyue (俗樂) or "uncultivated music", and can therefore also include music of the literati such as qin music.[6][7]

The court yayue has largely disappeared from China, although there are modern attempts at its reconstruction.[8] In Taiwan yayue is performed as part of a Confucian ceremony, and in China in a revived form as entertainment for tourists. Other forms of yayue however are still found in parts of East Asia, notably the gagaku in Japan, aak in Korea, and nhã nhạc in Vietnam, some of which preserved elements that are long lost in China.[3][9]

History[edit]

According to tradition, yayue was created by the Duke of Zhou under commission from King Wu of Zhou, shortly after the latter's conquest of Shang. Incorporated within yayue were elements of shamanistic or religious traditions, as well as early Chinese folk music.

The Book of Rites records a number of situations where yayue might be performed. These included ceremonies in honour of Heaven and Earth, the gods or the ancestors. There were also detailed rules on the way they were to be performed at diplomatic meetings. Yayue was also used in outdoor activities, such as aristocratic archery contests, during hunting expeditions, and after the conclusion of a successful military campaign. Yayue was characterised by its rigidity of form. When performed, it was stately and formal, serving to distinguish the aristocractic classes. It was sometimes also accompanied by lyrics. Some of these are preserved in the Book of Songs. Dance was also closely associated with yayue music, and a ceremonial or ritual dance may accompany a yayue performance.

With the decline of the importance ceremony in the interstate relations of the Spring and Autumn Period, so did yayue. Marquess Wen of Wei, for example, was said to prefer the popular music of Wey and Zheng to the ancient court music, listening to which he may fall asleep.[10][11] Confucius famously lamented the decline of classical music and the rites.

Much of the yayue of the Zhou Dynasty continued into the Qin Dynasty. However, some pieces appeared to have been lost or were no longer performed by the Han Dynasty, and the content and form of yayue was modified in this as well as the succeeding dynasties. During the Tang Dynasty components of popular music were added to yayue.[1] However, the dominant form of music in the Sui and Tang court was the entertainment music for banquets called yanyue (燕樂).[12]

During the Song Dynasty, with Neo-Confucianism becoming the new orthodoxy, Yayue was again in ascendancy with major development, and a yayue orchestra in this era consisted of over 200 instrumentalists.[13] Two important texts describing yayue performances in Song Dynasty were Zhu Xi's Complete Explanation of the Classic of Etiquette and Its Commentary (儀禮經傳通解) and Chen Yang (陳暘)'s Collection of Music (樂書).[14] In 1116, a gift of 428 yayue instruments as well as 572 costumes and dance objects was given to Korea by Emperor Huizong upon request by the Emperor Yejong of Goryeo.[15] As a result, some Song Dynasty yayue music is still preserved in Korea.

A short excerpt of a historical recording of yayue c. 1925 used in a Confucian ritual before such music disappeared from mainland China.

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Some forms of yayue survived for imperial ceremonies and rituals until the fall of the Qing Dynasty when the imperial period of China came to an end. Yayue however was still performed as part of the Confucian ritual in China until the Communist takeover in 1949 when it completely disappeared. There has been a revival in yayue in Confucian ritual in Taiwan since the late 1960s, and in mainland China since the 1990s.[16] A major research and modern reconstruction of yayue of the imperial court was initiated in Taiwan in the 1990s, and in mainland China a performance of yayue music in 2009 by Nanhua University's yayue music ensemble in Beijing also spurred interest in this form of music.[17] There are however questions over the authenticity of these revived and recreated yayue music and dances, nonetheless some argued that such music and dances have always changed over time through succeeding dynasties, and that any changes introduced in the modern era should be seen in this light.[17][18]

Performance[edit]

The yayue orchestra may be divided into two separate ensembles that may represent the yin and yang, a smaller one (the yin) that is meant to play on the terraces of a building, and a larger one (the yang) that performs in the courtyard.[13][14] The smaller ensemble consists of mainly chordophones (such as qin and se zithers) and aerophones (such as the dizi and xiao flutes, and panpipes), as well as singers. The larger ensemble is primarily instrumental and contains all the categories of musical instruments with the musicians arranged in five directions (four points of the compass and the center) in the courtyard. The wind instruments occupy the center, and the bronze bells and stone chimes at the four sides, while the drums occupy the four corners.[16]

The music is typically slow and stately, and monophonic with little rhythmic variety. When sung, there may be four to eight beats per phrase depending on the number of words in the text.[16] The music performed in the courtyard are accompanied by dances, and the number of dancers varies strictly according to the rank and social status of the patron. The emperor may have the largest number of musicians and dancers (64 dancers in eight rows of eight), while a noble or chief minister may have a smaller ensemble and 36 dancers (six rows of six), and a lesser officer even fewer (four by four or two by two). In Confucian rituals the six row dance (六佾舞) was originally performed as appropriate for the status of Confucius, later the eight row dance (八佾舞) was also performed at various times as Confucius had been granted various posthumous regal titles, for example the title of King Wenxuan (文宣王) that was granted by Emperor Xuanzong of Tang Dynasty.[19][20] The dances are divided into two types: Civil dance and Military dance. In Civil Dance the dancers hold a yue flute (籥) in their left hand and a feather plume (羽) in their right, while in Military Dance the dancer may hold a shield (干) in the left hand and a battleaxe (戚) in the right hand.[1]

Instruments used[edit]

Set of bronze bells (Bianzhong) from the tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng, dated 433 BC.

Traditional Chinese musical instruments comprise a wide range of string instruments (both bowed and plucked), wind instruments, and percussion instruments. Traditionally, they were also classified according to the materials used in their construction.

Silk (絲)[edit]

  • Gǔqín (古琴) - Seven-stringed fretless zither
  • (瑟) - 25 stringed zither with moveable bridges (ancient sources say 13, 25 or 50 strings)
  • Yàzhēng (牙箏) - Bowed zither
  • Zhú (筑) - Ancient zither, struck or plucked with a stick

Bamboo (竹)[edit]

Wood (木)[edit]

  • Zhù (柷) - A wooden box that tapers from the bottom, played by hitting a stick on the inside, used to mark beats or sections
  • (敔) - A wooden percussion instrument carved in the shape of a tiger with a serrated back, played by running a stick across it and to mark the ends of sections

Stone (石)[edit]

Metal (金)[edit]

Clay (土)[edit]

  • Xūn () - Ocarina made of baked clay

Gourd (匏)[edit]

  • Shēng (笙) - A free reed mouth organ consisting of varying number of bamboo pipes inserted into a gourd chamber with finger holes
  • (竽) - An ancient free reed mouth organ similar to the sheng but generally larger

Hide (革)[edit]

  • - (鼓) - Drum

Yayue in East Asia[edit]

A musician striking an instrument derived from the bianqing, pyeongyeong, during a ritual at Jongmyo Shrine, Seoul

In Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese, the Chinese characters Yayue ('雅樂) are pronounced differently.

Yayue in Japan[edit]

Main article: gagaku

Gagaku is a type of Japanese classical music that has been performed at the Imperial court for several centuries. It consists of native Shinto religious music and folk, a Goguryeo and Manchurian form, called komagaku, and a Chinese and South Asia form, called togaku.

Yayue in Korea[edit]

Main article: Aak

In Korean, Yayue (雅樂) is called '아악' (Aak — 아=雅, 악=樂). It was brought to Korea in the 12th century and it still preserves some of the music of the Song Dynasty.[3]

Yayue in Vietnam[edit]

Main article: Nhã nhạc

In Vietnam, Yayue (雅樂) is called 'Nhã nhạc' (Nhã=雅, nhạc=樂). It was brought to Vietnam around the Song Dynasty and was mainly influenced later by the Ming Dynasty court of China. This began to flourish even more after the Le Dynasty through to the Nguyen dynasty, which ended in the 20th century.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Chi Fengzhi (2005-06-28). "Change and Continuity of Chinese Yayue in Korea". 
  2. ^ "The Analects - Yang Huo". Chinese Text Project. 
  3. ^ a b c The Concise Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, Volume 2. Garland Encyclopedia of World Music. Routledge; 1 edition. 2008. pp. 1201–1202. ISBN 978-0415994040. 
  4. ^ "The Analects - Wei Ling Gong". Chinese Text Project. 
  5. ^ Liora Bresler (2007). International Handbook of Research in Arts Education. Springer. p. 85. ISBN 978-1402029981. 
  6. ^ Alan Robert Thrasher (2008). Sizhu Instrumental Music of South China: Ethos, Theory and Practice. Brill Academic Publishers. p. 2. ISBN 978-9004165007. 
  7. ^ Isabel Wong (1991). Bruno Nettl and Philip Bohlman, ed. Comparative Musicology and Anthropology of Music: Essays on the History of Ethnomusicology (2nd ed.). University of Chicago Press. pp. 37–38. ISBN 978-0226574097. 
  8. ^ Cindy Sui (April 20, 2010). "Music Bridges the Political Divide Between China and Taiwan". The New York Times. 
  9. ^ International Workshop on Nhã Nhạc of Nguyễn Dynasty: Huế court music. Hué̂ Monuments Conservation Center. 2004. 
  10. ^ Faye Chunfang Fei, ed. (2002). Chinese Theories of Theater and Performance from Confucius to the Present. University of Michigan Press. pp. 7–9. ISBN 978-0472089239. 
  11. ^ 許之衡 (1968). 中國音樂小史. p. 15. 
  12. ^ Alan Robert Thrasher (2008). Sizhu Instrumental Music of South China: Ethos, Theory and Practice. Brill Academic Publishers. p. 61. ISBN 978-9004165007. 
  13. ^ a b Don Michael Randel, ed. (2003). The Harvard Dictionary of Music (4th ed.). Harvard University Press. pp. 261–262. ISBN 978-0674011632. 
  14. ^ a b Keith Howard (2012). Music As Intangible Cultural Heritage: Policy Ideology and Practice in the Preservation of East Asian Traditions. Ashgate. ISBN 978-1409439073. 
  15. ^ Keith Howard (2012). Music As Intangible Cultural Heritage: Policy Ideology and Practice in the Preservation of East Asian Traditions. Ashgate. ISBN 978-1409439073. 
  16. ^ a b c Frederick Lau (2007). Music in China. Oxford University Press. pp. 118–121. ISBN 978-0195301243. 
  17. ^ a b Cindy Sui (09/01/2011). "The Melodies of the Emperors". Taiwan Today. 
  18. ^ Keith Howard, ed. (2007). Music and Ritual. Semar Publishers. p. 131. ISBN 978-8877780867. 
  19. ^ Joseph Sui Ching Lam (1998). State Sacrifices and Music in Ming China: Orthodoxy, Creativity and Expressiveness. State University of New York Press. pp. 35–36. ISBN 978-0791437063. 
  20. ^ Oliver J. Moore (2004). Rituals Of Recruitment In Tang China: Reading An Annual Programme In The Collected Statements By Wang Dingbao. Brill Academic Pub. pp. 130–131. ISBN 978-9004139374.