Melodic transformation processes in the arrangements of jingju banshi

TitleMelodic transformation processes in the arrangements of jingju banshi
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2016
Conference NameFourth International Conference On Analytical Approaches To World Music (AAWM 2016)
AuthorsCaro Repetto, R., & Serra X.
Conference Start Date08/06/2016
Conference LocationNew York, USA
Keywordsbanshi, comparative analysis, computer aided musicology, jingju, musicology

Music in jingju (also known as Peking or Beijing opera) is predefined by tradition. Before the appearance of jingju music composers, actors used to “arrange melodies” (bianqu) for new lyrics according to melodic systems called shengqiang. Each shengqiang consists in a distinctive melodic framework which is transformed rhythmically into predefined metrical patterns called banshi to convey different emotions. If this is common knowledge in musicological literature and among performers, an analysis of how this melodic material is transformed is still to be undertaken. In this paper we present a preliminary approach to this topic, by implementing a computer aided comparative analysis. To this aim, we focus on three banshi in the xipi shengqiang as sang by the dan role-type, namely yuanban, which is considered to convey the “original” melody, manban, obtained by stretching yuanban, and kuaiban, a compression of yuanban. In order to ensure representativeness, we have gathered those arias quoted as example in several jingju music textbooks to build our dataset. We obtain a representation of the underlying melodic structure by comparing yuanban arias, search for trends in its transformation processes towards manban and kuaiban, and complement these results with statistical information computed from scores using the Music21 toolkit.