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裴钰的旅游与文化思考

旅游和文化产业,产业与政策分析。文化旅游,文化观察,旅游地产。

 
 
 

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Preface to Songs of the Ming Dynasty  

2009-08-24 19:55:00|  分类: 明朝那些曲 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Preface to Songs of the Ming Dynasty

This book studies into the non-dramatic songs of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644 A.D.), which may present answers to people’s doubts such as: What are the non-dramatic songs of the Ming dynasty, and what are the typical characteristics?

How to appreciate the non-dramatic songs of the Ming dynasty?
What are the roles and values of non-dramatic songs of the Ming dynasty in nowadays, especially in an average people’s life?

Ming Sanqu, i.e. non-dramatic songs of the Ming dynasty, is usually employed for singing without makeup or much musical accompanies. The non-dramatic songs of various sources absorbing different tunes and tones from different nationalities manifest itself as being frank and unbridled in style, never limited to one form. Unlike “Shi” and “Ci”, which may more belong to the Scholar-bureaucrat classes, non-dramatic songs were rooted in the folk music. 
Appreciating non-dramatic songs of the Ming dynasty requires our empathy. It not only brings us one of the finest literatures from the Chinese tradition, but also presents the true feelings, e.g. loving and hating of the common people 4-5 hundred years ago. We can learn how they adjusted themselves when facing miseries, overcame their life difficulties; derive wisdom from their experiences; as well as become more prepared and motivated for our own life.
From the traditional perspective, History can be categorized into disciplines like Political History, Economic History, Cultural History, etc; but I strongly feel that we should also have “Psychic History”, to research into the feelings, values and life wisdoms of the ancient common people, with modern humanistic concern. The well saved non-dramatic songs of the Ming dynasty, with around 10,000 Xiaoling (snatches), more than 2,000 Taoshu (cycles of songs) and around 400 of named writers, provide a valuable opportunity for us to do so. This can be of very great importance in reconstructing the traditional Chinese culture nowadays.

When mentioning songs of the Ming dynasty, i.e. Ming Qu, many people may associate to songs of the Yuan dynasty, i.e. Yuan Qu. But actually, Yuan Qu refers to both the non-dramatic songs and the poetic dramas of the Yuan dynasty; and that is the broad meaning. Because the achievements and influences of the poetic dramas highly exceed that of the non-dramatic songs at that time, the narrative meaning of Yuan Qu may just be the poetic dramas of the Yuan dynasty. On the other hand, Ming Qu, just refers to Ming Sanqu, the non-dramatic songs of the Ming dynasty, which were based upon and developed from Yuan Sanqu, the non-dramatic songs of the Yuan dynasty. The achievements, number of writers, creativity, and influences of it, thus were all higher than that of the Yuan dynasty.

You may ask, however, why non-dramatic songs of the Ming dynasty were always neglected, or even “forgotten” by us? According to me, there are three possible reasons. Firstly, Sanqu (non-dramatic song) was the latest that came into existence out from all the classical poetry literature styles. It was born in the Yuan dynasty, and bloomed in the Ming dynasty, much later than the well-known Han Fu (versed prose of the Han dynasty), Tang Shi (poems of the Tang dynasty), and Song Ci (lyrics of the Song dynasty). Secondly, since it was rooted in the folk music, and was just popular among the common people, its values and importance have not been recognized by other classes within the society. Thirdly, we usually lack humanistic concerns on common people, especially those from the bottom of the pyramid; and haven’t paid enough attention to their personalities and individuality.

It is not fair, that the current status of Ming Qu is inconsistent with, or in other words, far below what it deserves. Reconstructing traditional Chinese culture has become a hot topic in recent years; but we should understand the distinction between the powerful and the powerless. Therefore, it is urgent, and a must, to pay more attention to the non-dramatic songs of the Ming dynasty, which stands for culture of the common people.

In the 16th century, while we were at the middle of the Ming dynasty, Europe was in the Renaissance Era. Beginning in Italy, and spreading to the rest of Europe, the Renaissance profoundly affected the European intellectual life. It is generally viewed as a bridge between the Middle Ages and the Modern era. The growing awareness of classical antiquity, and the growing desire to study and imitate nature drove the development toward Renaissance self-awareness, as well as the movement to recover, interpret, and assimilate the language, literature, learning and values of ancient Greece and Rome. The Renaissance scholars employed the humanist method in study, and sought for realism and human emotion in art. The genius of man, the unique and extraordinary ability of the human mind were thus asserted. These, to our big and happy surprise, can also be found in the non-dramatic songs of the Ming dynasty in China.

Were you say it was the Renaissance that brought Europe with the light of humanism, which is self-consciously humanist and human-centered, I’d say this was happening in both Western and Eastern world at that same period of time. More importantly, this is not just by chance. It shows that our country has always been renewing and improving. To a large extent, my work is just to remind readers about this, so that we can rediscover the history.

Rediscovering the history does not necessarily mean an increased amount on knowledge accumulation, but a positive change on our mindset and ideology. If we lack humanism and humanistic concerns, we will be unscrupulously greedy. If we don’t understand the value and the art of love, we will be ended in misery. If we are not open, we will be isolated by the rest of the world gradually.

Let us appreciate the songs of the Ming dynasty. Let us appreciate songs from the Ming dynasty. Once we have to accept what we cannot change, we need to change what we can change. Let us have a positive and optimistic mind to accompany us overcoming all the life difficulties. The art of the non-dramatic songs of the Ming dynasty is a balanced one, incorporated into valuable elements of love, and realism. We could learn a lot from it.

The research into the non-dramatic songs of the Ming dynasty, just as the songs themselves, has been neglected for long. In recent 60 years, only one Complete Non-Dramatic Songs of the Ming Dynasty was published. Even, for Selected Non-Dramatic Songs of the Ming Dynasty, the figure is also one. This book is the first amongst all, to appreciate the non-dramatic songs of the Ming dynasty with humanistic concerns. I would like to acknowledge the understanding, help and contributions of those around me; and I would like to see more and more researches and interests into this field.

Songs of the Ming dynasty not only belongs to China, but to the world as well. It is one of the core achievements of art in human civilization, and the most wonderful folk music of China within the recent 500 years. It is a treasure of the world culture, and should be listed among the world intangible heritages to be shared by all humanity.
I am confident that the readers will find this book valuable in terms of its quality and lucid presentation. However, being the first edition, it may contain some inadvertent mistakes and typos. I, hereby, welcome all your comments. Happy reading!

 


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