Chapter

<i>Huju</i> and The Politics of Revolution, POST-1949

Jonathan P. J. Stock

in Huju

Published by British Academy

Published in print April 2003 | ISBN: 9780197262733
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734502 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5871/bacad/9780197262733.003.0005

Series: British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship Monographs

Huju and The Politics of Revolution, POST-1949

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This chapter examines how music becomes inscribed with social power. Topics considered include the reorganization of huju troupes in the new People's Republic of China, post-1949; the impact of the specialist composer since the 1950s; the changing role of the performer; and the expression of political content in dramatic situations, words, actions, and music. Regional opera styles, such as Shanghai opera, it turns out, led the way in the reform of traditional opera in mainland China, with adaptations applied in these styles later transplanted to more established historical forms such as Beijing opera. It is argued that music in huju makes a special contribution to the ‘envoicing’ of the weak, a tendency that becomes problematic at times when the ordinary folk who people these operas must be portrayed as dauntless revolutionaries. Ironically, perhaps, the operas produced at the most publicly politicized periods of China's recent history are those that now appear the least eloquent in terms of their political argument.

Keywords: Chinese music; social power; specialist composer; Shanghai opera

Chapter.  16463 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ethnomusicology

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