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postgraduate thesis: Becoming a tradition : re-inventing the Sanxian

TitleBecoming a tradition : re-inventing the Sanxian
Authors
Advisors
Issue Date2016
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Chan, H. [陳曦彤]. (2016). Becoming a tradition : re-inventing the Sanxian. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR.
AbstractModernisation and westernisation have been major driving forces in the political, social, and cultural development of China since the collapse of the last imperial dynasty in 1911. The study of the evolution of the sanxian provides a good entry point to analyse the development of Chinese music during the twentieth century. The sanxian, a three-stringed fretless plucked lute that was traditionally used as an accompaniment instrument of narrative singing genres was also reinvented into a solo instrument during the construction of modern China, paradoxically by symbolising this country’s musical past. Under the belief that traditional Chinese music was not as refined as Western music, Chinese intellectuals targeted to modernise the primitive music practice by following Western music traditions. Along with the institutionalisation of Chinese music, there was change of performance contexts. In order to adapt the instrument to the needs of both newly developed solo and orchestral settings, a new sanxian model was created in 1960 with its own solo repertoire and performance styles which do not have any connection to narrative singing traditions. The reinvented model has gradually become the current instrument used in modern concert halls. While the new sanxian has a rather short history, starting from 2013, it has been constructed as a symbol of the authentic music of China and of the modern and cosmopolitan Chinese culture in international venues. In Chinese way of thinking, the notion of reinvention is compatible with that of tradition, as long as some traditional features are kept in the object reinvented. Authenticity, then, does not depend on permanence, but it easily accommodates transformation. To perform foreign music styles on the “traditional” instrument is thus a way to show the cosmopolitan side of the modern national music. This thesis focuses on how the sanxian has been reinvented since the latter half of the twentieth century. The introduction gives an overview of this study, which covers the aim, methodology in use, brief introduction of the sanxian, and scholarship related to the topic. Chapter one traces the origins and history of the sanxian from the Qin dynasty until the end of the Qing dynasty (221 B.C.–A.D. 1911) through a close scrutiny of the existing historic documentation and the studies done on this topic. Chapter two illustrates how the changes in the social and political situation shaped and reinvented the instrument as a symbol of modernisation through westernisation. Chapter three focuses on the development of the sanxian in the modern Chinese orchestra in the past three years. The sanxian and its performance styles have become part of the political agenda when musicians are performing in international venues. The evolution of the instrument thus reflects the transformation of Chinese society and culture from the early twentieth century until now.
DegreeMaster of Philosophy
SubjectSan xian - China
Dept/ProgramMusic
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/249215

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.advisorChan, HY-
dc.contributor.advisorBiancorosso, G-
dc.contributor.authorChan, Hei-tung-
dc.contributor.author陳曦彤-
dc.date.accessioned2017-11-01T09:59:49Z-
dc.date.available2017-11-01T09:59:49Z-
dc.date.issued2016-
dc.identifier.citationChan, H. [陳曦彤]. (2016). Becoming a tradition : re-inventing the Sanxian. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR.-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/249215-
dc.description.abstractModernisation and westernisation have been major driving forces in the political, social, and cultural development of China since the collapse of the last imperial dynasty in 1911. The study of the evolution of the sanxian provides a good entry point to analyse the development of Chinese music during the twentieth century. The sanxian, a three-stringed fretless plucked lute that was traditionally used as an accompaniment instrument of narrative singing genres was also reinvented into a solo instrument during the construction of modern China, paradoxically by symbolising this country’s musical past. Under the belief that traditional Chinese music was not as refined as Western music, Chinese intellectuals targeted to modernise the primitive music practice by following Western music traditions. Along with the institutionalisation of Chinese music, there was change of performance contexts. In order to adapt the instrument to the needs of both newly developed solo and orchestral settings, a new sanxian model was created in 1960 with its own solo repertoire and performance styles which do not have any connection to narrative singing traditions. The reinvented model has gradually become the current instrument used in modern concert halls. While the new sanxian has a rather short history, starting from 2013, it has been constructed as a symbol of the authentic music of China and of the modern and cosmopolitan Chinese culture in international venues. In Chinese way of thinking, the notion of reinvention is compatible with that of tradition, as long as some traditional features are kept in the object reinvented. Authenticity, then, does not depend on permanence, but it easily accommodates transformation. To perform foreign music styles on the “traditional” instrument is thus a way to show the cosmopolitan side of the modern national music. This thesis focuses on how the sanxian has been reinvented since the latter half of the twentieth century. The introduction gives an overview of this study, which covers the aim, methodology in use, brief introduction of the sanxian, and scholarship related to the topic. Chapter one traces the origins and history of the sanxian from the Qin dynasty until the end of the Qing dynasty (221 B.C.–A.D. 1911) through a close scrutiny of the existing historic documentation and the studies done on this topic. Chapter two illustrates how the changes in the social and political situation shaped and reinvented the instrument as a symbol of modernisation through westernisation. Chapter three focuses on the development of the sanxian in the modern Chinese orchestra in the past three years. The sanxian and its performance styles have become part of the political agenda when musicians are performing in international venues. The evolution of the instrument thus reflects the transformation of Chinese society and culture from the early twentieth century until now.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.rightsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.-
dc.subject.lcshSan xian - China-
dc.titleBecoming a tradition : re-inventing the Sanxian-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.description.thesisnameMaster of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelMaster-
dc.description.thesisdisciplineMusic-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-
dc.date.hkucongregation2017-
dc.identifier.mmsid991043962676003414-

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