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Musical-Dramatic Experimentation in the Yangbanxi: A Case for Precedence in The Great Wall

  • John Winzenburg
Chapter
Part of the Chinese Literature and Culture in the World book series (CLCW)

Abstract

The yangbanxi “model dramas” were intended by their creators and supporters to revolutionize China’s musical-dramatic genres. Peking opera was central to that effort because it was deemed to be the most nationally symbolic and important genre in staging class struggle on the literary-arristic front.1 However, as we now consider this period in retrospect, we see how generic meaning changes over time, where the experimentation of the yangbanxi is part of a larger trajectory beyond Peking opera alone. The inclusion of ballets Btzimtzo Nü (White-Haired Girl) and Hongse Niangzijun (Red Detachment of Women) and the “Revolutionary Symphonic Music” Shajiabang among the main eight works is only one indication of how the yangbanxi associated with Jiang Qing were novel in their specific blending of elements from Chinese and Western opera, dance, and music. Paul Clark points out how “cultural developments of 1966–1976 began before 1949,” and that experimentation of the yangbanxi had precedents in works that appeared before the establishment of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).2 In the decades since the Cultural Revolution, Chinese performing arts have continued the path of experimentation, though diverse and divergent from the yangbanxi paradigm, even if Peking Opera itself no longer resonates as China’s national-cultural symbol to the degree it did before 1976.

Keywords

Cultural Revolution Musical Drama Symphony Orchestra Aesthetic Objective Pentatonic Scale 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Editorial, “Hail the Great Victorym the Revolution of Peking Opera, ” in Hongqi (Red Flag) 6 (1967), reprinted in Jiang Qing, On the Revolution of Peking Opera, (Beijing: Foreign Language Press, 1968), 8.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Paul Clark, The Chinese Cultural Revolution: A History (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 10.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    See John Winzenburg, “Aaron Avshalomov and New Chinese Music in Shanghai, 1931–1947,” Twentieth-Century China, 37(1) (2012): 50–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Richard Curt Kraus, Pianos und Politics in China (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), 120.Google Scholar
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    Bakhtin describes agency in terms of “dialogic threads, woven by socio-ideological consciousness around the given object of an utterance, it cannot fail to become an active participant in social dialogue.” See M. M. Bakhtin, “Discourse in the Novel,” in The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays, edited by Michael Holquist, translated by Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist (Austin, TX: University of Texas, 1981), 276.Google Scholar
  7. John Winzenburg, “Heteroglossia and Traditional Vocal Genres in Chinese-Western Fusion Concertos,” Perspectives of New Music 51(2) (2013): 101–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    See Barbara Mittler, Dangerous Tunes: The Politics of Chinese Music in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the People’s Republic of China since 1949 (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1997).Google Scholar
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    Hon-lun Yang, “Gendering ‘1968’: Womanhood in Model Works of the People’s Republic of China and Movie Musicals of Hong Kong,” in Music and Protest in 1968, edited by Barley Norton and Beate Kutschke (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 225–226.Google Scholar
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    Colin Mackerras, The Performing Arts in Contemporary China (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1981), 56.Google Scholar

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© John Winzenburg 2016

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  • John Winzenburg

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