Suzhou Pingtan

By Alvin Palmer,2014-04-07 10:23
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Suzhou Pingtan

     Storytelling and Ballad Singing;Suzhou Pingtan

     SuzhouPingtan is a general term denoting SuzhouPinghua and Tanci, namely, storytelling and ballad singing in the Suzhou dialect. Flourishing in Suzhou, it also enjoys great popularity in Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces as well as in Shanghai, the biggest metropolis in East China.

     The art has a long history. Pinghua developed from the storytelling art of the Tang (618-907) and Song (960-1279) dynasties, and performers only spoke but not sang during the performance. Pingtan evolved from Bianwen that propagandized Buddhist teachings in the Tang Dynasty. In the late years of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and the early years of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), actors and actresses began to perform in Suzhou dialect, hence emerged SuzhouPingtan. In the subsequent more than 200 years, the art form saw much improvement. It is still popular today.

     SuzhouPingtanis performed solo, in duet or as a trio, involving singing and storytelling. The small three-stringed plucked instrument and Pipa(lute) are used as accompaniment. The Ban, or wooden clappers, produces various styles of tone and melody. Pingtan has absorbed popular folk tunes. For instance, Shutone, came from other Quyiforms and is the basis of other styles.

     After the founding of the People's Republic of China, the government set up the research office of SuzhouPingtan, Suzhou Pingtan School and other institutes to protect and carry forward this traditional Quyiart. After the 1980s,

performers of SuzhouPingtan staged performances and carried out exchanges

in Japan, Singapore, Italy, the US and Canada, etc, where they introduced it to

overseas communities with great success.

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