Browse the web faster with Firefox
AddThis Social Bookmark Button
22
Apr
2009
Passion for Tang Music E-mail
News - Xi'an News
Written by Associated Press
An obsessive passion to revive a nearly forgotten music enjoyed by China's elite more than a thousand years ago has cost Li Kai his wife, his job and most of his savings. But the energetic, ever-smiling 57-year-old insists that he has no regrets. "When I play the music, I'm happy -- I don't feel tired, I don't feel hungry, and I'm not bored," he said as he introduced the ensemble he set up almost a decade ago. "I've been doing this for years, and I've never been ill. I'm happy."

The group plays every week in a pagoda in Xian in the northern province of Shaanxi, once known as Chang'an, grand capital of China during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), which is widely regarded as a high point in Chinese civilisation.  "I realised that this ancient music was going to disappear as no one was playing it, so I set up this group," said Li, the ensemble's drummer.

"My aim is to revive, transmit, protect and develop Tang Dynasty music. As a Chinese person, I have this responsibility," he said, wearing a green and yellow tunic like those worn by musicians who played this music for Tang emperors.

Li's 18-member group is a mixed bunch, including a fashionable 22-year-old tourism student and a 59-year-old policeman nearing retirement.

Li said that 60 years ago, when the People's Republic was founded following decades of civil war and revolution, there were 50 groups practising this music in Shaanxi.

Now, after the ravages of the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and 1970s which sought to wipe out China's ancient traditions, only 12 groups remain throughout the country, totalling 200 people.

Li says Tang music is the earliest form of written music. While some academics believe it originated later than the seventh century, there is a general consensus that the music is among China's oldest.

It blends drums, bells, flutes and pipes, and during the Tang Dynasty performances were for the elite only, something Li finds amusing as he points to the pedestrians who stop and listen as his group plays.

He said he discovered the music in 1981 in the same way -- walking past a group of men playing their instruments in the street. He took in the "sheng," which looks like a teapot with pipes protruding from the top, and the "pipa," a pear-shaped lute, and was fascinated.

One of the musicians became his teacher, and Li became so passionate about it that he decided to set up his own ensemble, spending an inheritance of 1.5 million yuan (220,000 dollars) left to him by a wealthy grandfather.

His passion has cost him more than money -- his wife left him seven years ago, saying he was putting the music before her.

"I now don't have a wife, and I don't have a child, so Tang Dynasty music is my wife and child," said Li, who also gave up working in 1999 and now relies on his own money, and some government donations, to live.

Shows are regularly performed in Xian -- one of China's major tourist destinations as the home of the famed Terracotta Warriors. Li is also working to have a theatre built that will become the home of Tang Dynasty music, much as Beijing has its Peking Opera house.

His main aim, he said, is to popularise the music and to that end his ensemble has played some unusual venues, including to planes full of foreign tourists flying between Xian and Beijing and Shanghai.

Although the vast majority of Chinese know very little about the ancient music, Li is confident its popularity will spread as people learn more about its history and listen to its melodies.

"The Tang Dynasty was China's most powerful and prosperous period. Commoners were very affluent and the country was very rich. The music expresses that refined and harmonious life," Li said.

"So regardless of people's age or profession, if they listen to the Tang Dynasty's refined and melodious music, all people will like it."

Our valuable Editor Associated Press has been with us since Sunday, 04 April 2010.

Show Other Articles Of This Author

Do you have a story to share? Do you want to be a ND Author? Send your own story, write about family, friends, life in Xi'an, business, real estate, education, travel, entertainment, write a review, suggest a column and more! In any language! Please include at least one picture about your story if possible, your name, email address, blog-/web-address, so we can give you credit. Go ahead, click here: Submit your Story now and we will publish it and list you as a ND contributor! Alternatively you can send us your story to: xianstories@newdynasty.com.cn

Add comment


Security code
Refresh

More Articles in this Category

Latest Articles in Xi'an News

NEW DYNASTY TV - Xi'an Reports, Interviews and Movies

ND TV - Premier Web TV Reports, Interviews, Movies about Expats and Locals in Xi'an/China! This is UNIQUE in Xi'an!

ND proudly presents: Xi'an Models Volume 1

Xi'an Models

Advertisement

RECOMMENDED LINKS  
MANGO - Women's Collection
HaoHao - China Stories
Silk Road International (SRI)

Watch Great Movies Online - Right here on ND - For Free!

Watch Great Movies Online - Right here on ND - For Free!

New Dynasty Comics


We want you! - 加入我们!

We're currently looking for some down to earth people who can spare a little time each week to write about anything related to Xi'an and China, who are eager to share stories, news, insight info and be a part of the most sophisticated and fastest growing Digital Magazine in Xi'an. Whether you're young or old, we'd like to hear from you. Click for more info.

Editorials

Xi'an goes digital
To all readers, subscribers, friends: Welcome to Xi'ans most sophisticated, multilingual digital magazine. We are excited to offer you from today on, 15. June 2009, a new and superior kind of publication in Xi'an and a refreshing new concept. Of course, as with any technology-related... Click here to read the full story!

Skype ND!

Skype ND!

Featured Website

¡XABOO! is a brand new interactive Community Platform for Locals and Expatriates in Xi'an (China).¡XABOO! is an interactive Community Platform for Locals and Expatriates in Xi'an. Click here & register now!

Editor Team

We have a team that works on the articles presented on ND. Please contact us if  you are interested in helping us out with the creation of articles or researching information in Xi'an. Contact:  info@newdynasty.com.cn

Post translation

ND has readers from all over the world and in several languages. If you translate one of our articles please let us know so we can add a link at the original article! Your site and name will be posted as well. Thanks!

Restaurants

article thumbnail Tuscany Restaurant

We are a family owned restaurant and take pride in everything we do. From the fine ingredients we use to the wines we carry, you...

ND Digital Magazine Xi'an - Subscribe now!

ND Digital Magazine Sample  Cover
*Sample Image

Hotels

article thumbnail Grand Noble Xi'an

The hotel has 428 well-appointed guestrooms and suites, a full range of dining, recreational and conference facilities. ...

ND on your Mobile Phone Browser - Coming soon

ND Mobile v1.0 is online! Browse ND's eMag with your mobile device by typing the address m.newdynasty.com.cn in the browser of your device or be auto-redirected to our mobile site by typing newdynasty.com.cn. You can read our articles, watch ND TV and more even better in the future with your iphone, android etc. Stay tuned. Click here for more Info or here if you want to report a bug.