In Chinese culture the Lion Dance is a traditional folk dance that is performed during Lunar New Year. The origins of the Lion Dance are debatable, but most see it as originating from the folk story of Nian Shou or Nian. Nian was a monster who would terrorize villagers during Lunar New Year celebrations. But the villagers fought back by creating a beast of their own, as Nian came “two men wearing the beast costume came charging out while the rest of the villagers created a racket by banging on pots and pans” (Yap, The Origin of the Lion Dance and Legend of Nian). Which lead to Nian being scared off and started the tradition of performing the Lion Dance during Lunar New Year celebrations.
The Lion Dance is performed generally with two people who go under the heavy costume and perform acrobatic dances, like jumping onto each other’s shoulders to display the fierce movements of a lion. During the Lion Dance performance there would be multiple different kinds of lions that were different colors such as red or yellow which symbolize luck and wealth in Chinese culture. During the dance, musicians would follow the lions into the street, stores, or restaurants and play traditional instruments such as drums, cymbals, and gongs. All these instruments reflect the loud banging that had scared off Nian. Firecrackers were also used during the performance to add more flair and loudness to the performance.
I think the Lion Dance is still very much tied to my culture, but it’s also growing towards popular culture. This is because many people can enjoy the performance without knowing the specific cultural history or traditions it’s a part of, where they can have their own kind of appreciation for the performance.
As an audience member I would be most comfortable at a symphony orchestra concert because I am more familiar with the sounds of the instruments and how the performers are expected to play. I would be least comfortable at the Hindustani classical performance since there are more traditional sounds and I wouldn’t know what to expect from the performance. At a symphony orchestra concert, I would expect to see a quiet and formal environment with both the audience members and performers. Since the audience has to remain still so that they don’t distract the performers, and for the performers to be serious in their performance.
I have seen videos online of recordings on different symphony orchestra concerts that show large amounts of performers sitting on a stage with a conductor at the front, and the audience is further back and very still and quiet. Even though I have never seen a live performance, I would still expect the atmosphere of a symphony orchestra to hold these same expectations anywhere in the world.
The film clip I had chosen was “Get Out” which was directed by Jordan Peele. In the clip you can see a young black man named “Andre” (IMDb) was walking through a darkly lit neighborhood, when suddenly a white car drives past him then makes a U-turn and stops right by him. Andre quickly walks in the opposite direction, but is surprised when someone attacks him from behind and is knocked unconscious and dragged to the car.
In the clip I had noticed some diegetic music playing such as when the white car approaches Andre, you can hear the music coming from the car. Another diegetic sound was the sound of footsteps by both Andre and his kidnapper. For nondiegetic music I had noticed a violin was playing towards the end of the scene. The diegetic and nondiegetic sounds/music in this clip adds to the spooky and scary effect of a horror film that leaves you in suspense, wondering what’s going to happen next. Moreover, when the car approaches Andre I noticed the dynamics of the music where it starts off quiet then gets louder, especially when Andre is attacked by his kidnapper is when the music climaxed. While the violin’s dynamic stays loud as the car drives away.
The piece of musical technology that I have chosen is the Guzheng, which is a traditional Chinese zither that is said to originate in the Qin Dynasty. A zither is a type of musical instrument that falls under the string family and is comprised of a flat wooden sound box with multiple strings placed horizontally. To play this instrument you would use one or both hands to pluck at the right and left portion of the strings. The left portion of the strings can produce pitch ornamentation and vibrato (History of Guzheng). The Guzheng was mainly played in Chinese folk music, where originally the instrument had twelve strings. But, with modernization in technology the modern Guzheng now has 21 to 25 strings as well as tuning devices and pedals (World Instrument Gallery). With the addition of more strings and other pieces to the Guzheng it gave the instrument more variety to play different chords, pitches, and harmonies. I do not have any experience with this instrument; however, I have heard it being played in the background music in Chinese movies.
The piece of music that I had chosen is called “Spring River in the Flower Moon Night” or in mandarin “春江花月夜 (chun jiang hua yue ye). The creator of this piece was Zhang Ruoxe, who was a Chinese poet in the early Tang Dynasty. Originally the piece “Spring River in the Flower Moon Night” was a poem that translated into a folk song using the Guzheng. The Guzheng helped showcase the deep emotions and meaning that came from the poem. Folk music is a type of story that has meaning, the Guzheng was used to tell these folk stories in a musical way.
In the musical piece “Kyrie from the Pope Marcellus Mass” there are many musical qualities that are shown such as in the melody, texture, harmonies, and rhythm of the piece. This piece is an example of a polyphony which means several independent lines sounding simultaneously and you can hear it in the harmonies where there’s singers that are singing the lines on a higher and lower pitch with the dominant line. Moreover, the rhythm of this piece has a slow tempo as the notes sound drawn out like there’s disjunct between pitches, which means that there’s some distance in between pitches. The melody of this piece sounded calming and at the same time bright or uplifting to me, especially during the harmonies where the high and low pitches sounded pleasant.
The second musical piece was Kyrie and there were many things I had noticed such as in the piece’s texture is a monophony, which means that it’s just one musical line with no accompaniment. Another thing I had noticed in this piece was that the tempo was slow, and the melody a dark and sad tone like a minor scale. To add on, the range of this piece’s pitches aren’t as drawn out as the first musical piece “Kyrie from the Pope Marcellus Mass”, but there were still some pitches that were a little bit spaced out based on the musical notation on YouTube.
My process of close listening regarding both musical pieces was that I analyzed one musical element at a time. Even though I had to listen to both pieces multiple times it helped me to focus on one element so I wouldn’t miss important details. Moreover, since I listened to the pieces on YouTube where it had the musical notation, I found that I could follow along to the melody better when I saw where the rise and fall of the pitches were.