The hit live band combines traditional Chinese instruments with guitar and keyboards

A group from Jilin Province in northeastern China named Tangyin recently attracted millions of followers on Chia’s social media, Douyin, for their improvised musical performances combining traditional Chiese instruments such as the ‘Erhu and the bamboo flute, with a guitar and keyboards. Photo: Courtesy of Zhou Xiaoyu

At a tiny studio in northeast China’s Jilin province, a special Chinese band live-streamed their latest performance to an audience of millions via social media on Sunday night. Listeners were obsessed with their unusual style of music, a fusion of rhythms, with the sound of bamboo flute and traditional Erhu and Guzheng instruments as the main tone, in addition to guitar and keyboards, giving it a bit of a vibe. jazz.

The band’s name Tangyin literally means music of the Tang dynasty. He now has more than 2 million subscribers on Chinese short video platform Douyin, where listeners await his live performance every night. But months before such an exhibition, the group was on the verge of collapse for lack of an audience.

The motivation of viewers in the livestream also varies. Some are curious to take a look at this special group after hearing about it from friends, some eager to be chosen by the group, who can improvise a piece of music based on the name of the song in the comments section.

The collision between tradition and modernity, as well as Chinese and Western styles, has made their work appealing, and people indulge in the group’s freestyle adaptations of well-known tunes, including but not limited to music. of 1980s Hong Kong pop music and one of the biggest radio hits, My Heart Will Go On.

Zhou Xiaoyu, the group’s manager, told the Global Times that he did not expect the group to be so successful at all. “But now it’s obvious that people appreciate this combination,” Zhou remarked.

It was especially after that he noticed a growing interest and passion from the public, especially young people, towards classical Chinese products, from literature to art and music.

On the Chinese video platform Bilibili, an account called Ancient Instrument Clinic, started as early as 2015 to upload works played with traditional Chinese instruments such as the Guzheng to recreate musical pieces.

However, in 2020, among more than 100 videos uploaded, two unexpected pieces, the famous BWV 1007-1 Prelude, played with an ancient Chinese Guzheng-type string instrument, and Flight of the Bumblebee by Maksim, played with a flute bamboo and Pipa, an ancient Chinese lute-like instrument, stood out, with the flute piece racking up nearly 200,000 views.

“Beyond short videos, the innovative application of traditional music in film and television dramas and variety shows has boosted the popularity of traditional music. It’s always a good thing to see more young people devoting themselves to receive and recreate our musical heritage,” noted Liu Jie, associate professor at the School of Arts, Renmin University of China.

Bring out the best part

In the long line of Chinese dynasties, ancient forms of Chinese music circulated among “great palaces” such as the imperial court of the Tang Dynasty, and during the Ming and Qing Dynasties, exhibiting local characteristics.

For example, scholars have regarded music in the Tang dynasty as a multi-faceted performing form of the highest richness with a variety of high-level musical instruments that have been recorded in history and discovered on Site (s. Although there were a number of styles of music for varying occasions, they were mainly found in the imperial courts.

However, regardless of the greatness or extreme regional characteristics of early music, the addition of modern sounds focused on people’s daily lives “overlaps very well”, as Zhou mentioned. It is also found in Chinese variety shows.

In 2016, Huayin Laoqiang, one of China’s intangible cultural heritage-listed classical operas, was rehabilitated by Chinese singer Tan Weiwei, who introduced a whole new team of folk music and modern rock and roll. The inclusion of rock and roll changed the “silent appreciation” style of traditional Chinese music and brought this hidden star from northwest China into modernity.

For Zhou, it’s a more precise answer to musical fusion. “The two don’t seem to conflict, but since most of the music we did was Chinese pop, we would tend to emphasize the rhythm of traditional instruments.”


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