Tuesday, January 10, 2006

20:00 Center City - Traditional Music of Amoy

I've been feeling pretty good, so this was going to be a run across the Ben Franklin bridge, but for some reason the pedestrian path is closed on both sides of the bridge today. Bummer. I just ran down race street, crossed Market, ran down chestnut to 8th, and back to TRF.

I had downloaded the album "Traditional Music of Amoy from http://www.asianclassicalmp3.org/amoy.htm a few days ago.

I will preface this by saying that I know virtually nothing about Chinese music. I am not a sinologist. I have learned enough Mandarin to say hello, goodbye, thank you, and count to ten (keep in mind though, that with just that much Spanish I managed to convince Sonia to marry me; a little knowledge is muy peligroso). Even the Mandarin I can speak doesn't qualify me for much here, because the people of Amoy speak Minnanyu, which is not the same.

What I do understand is that this music comes from a tradition known as nan kuan, which means "southern pipes". It dates from the T'ang dynasty (618-970) which is considered the golden age of Chinese culture.

As far as the music itself, I feel unqualified to describe it to anyone. It was not happy music-- the woman singing was complaining about something or someone who had done her wrong, that much I could tell. It was kind of flutey, which squares up with the name.

I guess it just felt neat to listen to music that maybe, just maybe, my ancestors had listened to. Although considering that my grandfather left Amoy to become a gold miner in Panama, it is unlikely that he ever heard music in the court.

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