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  Traditional music of Tibet  
 
Source: xinhua Time:2006-12-28

Talking and singing music

The talking and singing music in Tibet include Gesar, Lama Mani, etc. Talking and singing music is characterized by talking for a while and singing for a while, talking before singing, and circling a course.

"Gesar" talking and singing music is often popular in Nagqu in northern Tibet and Qamdo in eastern Tibet.

"Lama Mani" talking and singing music is often popular in areas of Lhasa, Shigatse, and Shannan in the middle areas of Tibet; "Zhegar" talking and singing music is mostly popular around the whole Tibetan-inhabited areas, and contains some simple dances during talking and singing.

"Gorlo" is an old Tibetan ballad. It was developed in three stages: the initial one was "Gorlo" of Tubo Tsampo (king) period, the medium one was "Gorlo" of the feudalist separatist regime period (Gorlo of Milha Raba is typical), and later one was "Gorlo" of the local government period of "Gandain Phodrang" (Gorlo of the 6th Dalai Lama Camyang Gyamco is typical); "Shia" is an antiphonal ballad mostly popular on the Tibetan Plateau, and it is usually played during various religious festivals; the word of "Zonglu" in Tibetan has the meaning of songs sung in storytelling, and it has another name of folk song of story-telling, popular throughout Tibet.

Instrumental music. Instrumental music in Tibet is not very developed. There were many instruments during each historical stage, but most were played more in religious music than in folk art. Even if it was used by the folk, it only served as accompaniment to folk songs or dances and hardly showed up solo. In the early 20th Century, military bands emerged in the Tibetan army. The instruments played were tuba, trumpet, French horn, trombone, flute, piccolo, large and small military drums and plucked stringed instruments. The songs played included foreign works, Tibetan folk music, and some Han songs.

Religious Music

Before 1951, when Tibet won peaceful liberation, almost all people in Tibet believed in religion. Hence, religious music occupied a vital position in Tibetan society. Religious music in Tibet is another name for monastery music, and it can be divided into music of the Bon and Tibetan Buddhism. Performances were carried on during religious festivals, and wherever religious activity is, there is religious music.

Religious instruments often have "Tongqen" (Buddhist horns), which are applied in large-scale ceremonies.

"Gyaling" is a wind instrument originating from Han-inhabited areas and is often applied in large-scale ceremonies as well.

"Suona" is an instrument originated from Arabia and is often applied in various ceremonies.

Drums of long handle or bell drums are often played in the halls of the Buddhist guardians and ceremonies.

Big gongs or brass gongs are often used to announce the rallying time of monks.

White sea conch is one of the important accompaniment instruments in religious ceremonies; the big sea conch is mainly used in Tantric ceremonies; in the Sagya, Nyingma and Gagyu Sects, this sort of instrument is often used in praising songs.

Opera Music

This includes Tibetan opera, Qamdo opera, Moinba opera, etc. Tibetan opera is the general name of Tibetan opera arts. Qamdo opera and Moinba opera both belong to Tibetan opera, while the music for voice and performing form of these operas are obviously different from Tibetan opera in the U-Tsang area.

In regard to the color of the masks, Tibetan opera can be divided into two kinds: white mask opera and blue mask opera. It is usually believed that blue mask opera was created by the famous accomplished monk Thang Stong Rgyal Po of the Gagyu Sect of Tibetan Buddhism in the 14th century. Later, during a long development course, it evolved into eight lists of opera, including Prince Norsang and Princess Wencheng.

A drum and a plucked stringed instrument serve as accompaniment and the music is particularly characterized by long rhythm and loud tone.

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