SOAS University of London

Department of Music, School of Arts

6: Xingjie / Parade

Sizhu ensemble (erhu, pipa, sanxian, zhonghu, sheng, dizi, ban, gu)

By the eighth century BC, or thereabouts, the Chinese classified their instruments into eight groups according to the material from which they were made. Silk (si) and bamboo (zhu) were two of the categories, hence the silk and bamboo ensemble (sizhu) of string and wind instruments. This popular ensemble is typical of the Jiangnan area, the city of Shanghai, and the neighbouring provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang. It is typical of teahouses, which are not just places to drink tea and consume snacks, or even places to catch up on the latest gossip, but also function as places to listen to music.

The distinctive characteristics of the music for this ensemble are "adding flowers" (jiahua) ornaments, and variations (bianzou) to the melodies, and subtle changes in tempo and dynamic. 

Xingjie is a pictorial illustration of a traditional wedding procession. On the way to her marriage, the bride-to-be sits on a beautifully decorated red sedan-chair, carried by eight young men.