Cantonese music
2010-September-1 Source: Szdaily web edition
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Because the performers were almost entirely from Guangdong, Shanghai people generalized calling it Guangdong music. Compositions are based on tunes derived from Guangdong opera, together with new compositions from the 1920s onwards. Guangdong opera, combining music, singing, martial arts, acrobatics and acting, is one of the major categories in Chinese opera.

Most pieces come from folk music. It was not until the 1920s that a number of Guangdong composers created about 500 works, greatly enriching the treasury of Cantonese music.


Cantonese music is known for depicting the minor facets of life, as well as revealing traditional emotions. It brings a feeling of relaxation. "Rain on the Plantain Leaves" was one of the earliest compositions. The melody expresses the pleasant mood of life in South China.

Some Cantonese music takes influence from jazz and Western music, using syncopation and triple time, and incorporating a lot of instruments including the alto saxophone, xylophone, violin, piano, electric guitar and drums.

The gaohu is the most common lead instrument in Cantonese music. It has a dragon head, round body, no base, and is played with the body held between the knees. It was invented by Lu Wencheng (1898-1981) in the 1920s. Before this, the erxian was the most common lead string instrument in the Cantonese ensemble.

(By Jane Lai)

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