Chinese culture Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong
The “Big Preface to the Classic of Poetry” (Shidaxu) prescribes that when people experience hearty feelings, they write; if they find their written words communicatively inadequate, they chant and sing what they have written; if they find their verbal-vocal performance expressively insufficient, they complete it with acting/dancing movements. Historical Chinese writers mint words and have them read, chanted, sung, danced, and understood by appreciative readers/performers/audiences. To probe this Chinese phenomenon, this roundtable presents four case-studies on integrated writing, reading, singing, and dancing in Yuan and Ming China. Patricia Sieber investigates sanqu as lyrics that elicit satirical understandings of the past by deconstructing established writing/reading techniques and by providing new interpretive contexts. Wenbo Chang analyzes Atthe Mountain God Temple, a zaju that contrasts an officious man with his no-nonsense contemporaries, manipulating language registers, perspectives and dramatics structure to generate comic effects. Casey Schoenberger traces the rise of melismatic singing in Ming China, arguing that the practice, which might have originated from Daoist ritual performance, was developed to facilitate singing of changing words and linguistic tones (zidiao) with fixed tunes/tune patterns (qupai). Joseph Lam analyzes verbal, musical, and choreographic expressions in the “Lotus Blossom Viewing” (“Shanghe”), a popular kunqu show, demonstrating the ways Chinese theatrically represent Chinese heart-minds with integrated words, sounds, and dances. Collectively, the four papers in this roundtable calls for integrated appreciation/examination of Chinese dramatic text, music, and dance.