Flying Dragons, Flowing Streams: Music in the Life of San Francisco's Chinese

Flying Dragons, Flowing Streams: Music in the Life of San Francisco's Chinese

Flying Dragons, Flowing Streams: Music in the Life of San Francisco's Chinese

Flying Dragons, Flowing Streams: Music in the Life of San Francisco's Chinese

Synopsis

"A fascinating account of musical life in San Francisco's Chinatown district. From the first immigrations of of Chinese during the Gold Rush years and well into the 20th century, the musical life of San Francisco's Chinese has been been heavily involved with Catonese opera.... Riddle's book is a satisfying combination of field study, close analytical study of musical customs, and interestingly written accounts of Chinese Americans. There is a very helpful bibliography.... Flying Dragons, Flowing Streams is a valuable addition to the growing number of studies of music of various ethnic communities in the US. Recommended highly for public as well as academic music libraries, lower-division undergraduate level and above." - Choice

Excerpt

When Chinese pioneers first left their native Pearl River delta region to establish a Chinese American community in California during the mid-nineteenth century, they also brought along a number of elements of Chinese culture. One of these, the music theater, was soon established in the New World, sped somewhat by events in their native Guangdong where, concurrently with the Taiping Rebellion, Cantonese opera actor Li Wenmao had led an armed uprising against the Chinese imperial government in 1854. Because of this involvement, the authorities banned performances of the opera, and it had to lead an underground existence until 1868 when the ban was lifted. Thus, for more than a decade, the repertoire could only be staged publicly abroad where operatic troupes did not have to fear official retribution. the west coast of North America, with a large concentration of Cantonese, was one of these refuges. Here the opera became established and played a prominent role in the Gold Mountain (the Chinese term for California) musical scene.

After the first introduction of the Chinese opera to America, society in China experienced great changes. This was also reflected in its music. For example, during the first part of the twentieth century, a form of chamber music, now known as Guangdong music, developed from the music used to accompany Cantonese opera performances. Western instruments such as the violin and saxophone were introduced into Cantonese musical ensembles. Chinese musi-

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