Sizhu refers to the music of traditional stringed and woodwind instruments. It is prevalent in everywhere of China, but there are different names according to various regions they are brought out. For example, spreading in southern Jiangsu, western Zhejiang and Shanghai area is called Jiangnan Sizhu. Its performing layout is merged of string and woodwind instruments and formulation from one string plus one woodwind to a more complicated ensemble version. Generally, the musical instruments used include pipa, erhu, yangqin, sanxian, qinqin, zhonghu, dizi, sheng, xiao, drum, woodblock, wooden fish, bell, etc. There are popular small tunes and also suite of several qupais united together. Musicians can play the melody naturally or by adding ornaments to it and sometimes play the simplified version of it. In general, there are eight pieces of renowned Jiangnan Sizhu melody, more pieces are composed to enrich the catalogue recently. The melody of Jiangnan Sizhu is vivid and bright, most of them are adapted from the folk music of soft and gentle style. The traditional pieces are always the variations of liu ban system.
Guangdong Yinyue is also called Cantonese music. It is the Sizhu of the delta area of Pearl River and is named as Lingnan Sizhu. In the early time, it was called Pu Zi which meant instrumental music, it was formed by melodies from the northern district out of the Pearl River and the background music of Cantonese Opera. The instruments include erxian, zhutiqin, yueqin, sanxian and qudi or suona which was called Wujiatou and meant five instruments. Since the mid of 1920s, LU Wen-cheng reformed the Jiangnan erhu and developed the Guangdong erhu which is now called the gaohu. It was then formed a new style of music and was called Yueyue. Yueyue meant Guangdong Yinyue, it was so called because the gramophone records of this new music was recorded by the Guangdong musicians in the same style of performance. The instruments of the new style Guangdong Yinyue include yuehu, yehu, yangqin, xiao, qinqin, etc.
It was the Sizhu in the area of Chaozhou language and was called the Lingdong Sizhu or Hanjiang Sizhu, but generally called the Chaozhou Yinyue. It spread in the area of Chaozhou, Shantou of Guangdong province and passed on to Longyan, Longxi of south Fujian. In the western side, it passed on to Huiyang and Wuhua, Dapu, Xingning in the north. Its melody mostly adapted from folk songs and other traditional operatic melodies and had a history of almost four hundred years. It can perform indoors or at the playground. Its main instruments include Chaozhou erxian, Chaozhou suona and shenbo. The bow of erxian is longer than other bowed instruments. It has a loud and high frequency sound and is the chief instrument of the string section. The suona is discriminated into the big one and the small one. The big one is called dachui and the small one is called aizi. The suona is the chief melody instrument of the traditional percussion group. The shenbo is a big gong rich in local music style. It is always used as the tuning standard of the ensemble.
Guangdong Hanyue is also called Kejia Yinyue, Waijiang Xian, Rujia Yue, Handiao Yinyue, etc. It is spread in the Kejia language area of Meixian, Shantou, Shaoguan and Huiyang of Guangdong province. It was the music which the emigrants of the middle and lower part of the Yellow River brought them to Guangdong. Since then it merged with the local music and formed the Guangdong Hanyue. It’s performing layout including three formats. The first is called Hexiansuo and Luoguchui. Hexiansuo is a kind of Sizhu which includes instruments of yueqin, pipa, yehu, tihu, sanxian and dizi. Luoguchui is performed by the wind and percussion group, leading by the suona and combined with percussions suluo, xiaoluo, cymbal, wanluo, ruluo, bangzi, yaoban, etc. The second is called qingyue which is played by an ensemble with three instruments including zheng, pipa and yehu. The third one is called zhongjunban which is a ritual band and sometimes use the suona to imitate the song melody of the Han Opera.
Hebei Chuige is a kind of native music of Hebei province. It always performs in the festivals and ceremonies to celebrate. The peasants of Hebei are mostly the experts of Chuige and some of them are three generations capable in Chuige. They formed their teams and groups which are called Chuigehui. The instruments used include suona, haidi (small suona), guanzi, sheng, dizi and the percussions which always used to perform folk songs and imitate the song melody of the native opera. So it is called the Chuige.
Xian Guyue is spread in the urban district of Xian and along the Zhongnan Mountain. It is an art of Shaanxi province with long history. Although it is merged with wind instruments and percussions, it belongs to xiyue which means music of fine and soft. The performing teams and groups are called Xiyueshe or Guyueshe. Their activities are always associated with celebrations and festivals. Every year when the slack season comes, the Xiyueshe and Guyueshe will have their competition games the Temple Fair Festival which become a civilization activity in tradition. It’s performing layout including the sitting format and the marching format. The instruments for the sitting format are dizi, sheng, guanzi, zheng, pipa, drums, double yunluo, cymbals, luos, jingle, small bell and wooden block. While the marching format besides using the aforementioned instruments, they also use additional drums, luos and wooden block.
Jiangzhou Guyue is named according to the place it spread. Jiangzhou is now called New Jiangzhou which is in Shanxi province. The wind and percussion music in Jiangzhou is also called Jiangzhou Dagu which reflects the primitive civilization and its revive. The art of Jiangzhou’s drum music is brought down from the ancient times and through reforming, it develops to a satisfactory manner nowadays. It is now identified as “the drum can talk”.
The traditional music of wind and percussion known as chuida is widely spread in China. It is classified into the southern and northern types. Spreading along the southern part of Jiangsu province is called Sunan Chuida and is belong to the southern type. This kind of music is generally named Shifan Luogu and is always performed by the professional folk musician group which is called Chuida. Another kind performed by the Buddhists and Taoist is called Fanyin. Shifan Luogu is developed from the Santao of certain drum paragraphs linked together or just from the small chuida. It can be classified to Qing Luogu of the pure percussion and the Sizhu Luogu of the percussion together with wind and string instruments. It is mainly the recreation activities for the people, sometimes also play in the celebrations and festivals. Of course, the religious activities of the Buddhists and Taoist are also used it.
Shanxi Chuida is the wind and percussion music of the northern China. It is loud and open which is widely spread in Wutai, Xin county, Yuanping and Dingxiang. It is developed from linking certain qupais to form a suite. The number of qupais used is depended on the performers and they sometimes add paragraphs of percussion performance into it. The suite is named by using one of the qupai’s name mostly use the first one. Its instruments include suona, guanzi, dizi, sheng, big drum, cymbals and string instruments.