François Picard

The Musical Form Itself as Reflecting the Structure: A Case Study - Shifan luogu 十番鑼鼓 music for percussions (China)

Strangely little known in the West and even in China, where only the Southern style (Jiangsu) is known, and not the Northern (Tianjin), Shifan luogu music, for percussions alone or alternating with an ensemble of winds and strings, offers outstanding ‘Klangfarbenmelodien’. The six to eight musicians synchronize as precisely as the hands and feet of a single drummer. They should not be understood as polyrhythmic. Although they use the form of regular measures (1/4, 2/4, 4/4, or more), the tunes do not rely on repeated measures or cycles: the composition takes the measure itself as its main object, varying it through methods of increasing and decreasing. It seems that the composition, often inserted in a classical suite form, can be seen as purely of structure.
Classical studies (Yang et Cao 1957, Li 1983, Yuan 1986, Li 1988, Zhang 1997), historical recordings — most of which remaining unreleased – and field documents (recordings and scores) will furnish the material to be studied.