The Chiu Chow music, a kind of folklore music popular in the Guangdong Shantou Region in China, has a rich historic legacy of some 500 years. It is a unique Southern music of the Chinese race, which contains a variety of performance formats, tastes, and styles. It can be largely classified into Interior Music and Public Square Music. Interior Music consists of “String Poem Music”, “Flute Case Ancient Music”, “Small Music”, and “Temple Hall Music.” Public Square Music includes the “Chiu Chow Large Gongs and Drums” series.
“String Poem Music” is well represented by Chiu Chow 10 Case Tunes, which comes with a lighthearted and graceful melody, with its five melody themes of “Light 3 and 6″, “Strong 3 and 6″, “Lively 3 and 5″, “Light 3 Strong 6″, and “Reversed Thread “; it can be of the Head Plates of 4/4 Andante, 1/4 Andantino, and 1/4 Allegro, etc. String Poem Music mainly makes use of high-pitched Chiu Chow two-string bowing instruments.
“Flute Case Ancient Music” is represented by woodwinds music which is now popular in and around Chaoyang City, it is both bold and timid. Due to its inheritance of a brand name and traditional playing of large as well as small horizontal flutes and Shengs, it has made its own style! It is believed that it was introduced by Mr. Chen Chun Lin, Guangxi Lieutenant-Ambassador of the Ming Dynasty.
“Small Music”, common known as three-string Pipa Zheng, is a kind of Confucian-schooled music, which pays great attention to the feeling of the music. These instruments demand a high level of playing techniques, among them the “Chiu Chow Zheng” has become one of the four Chinese traditional schools of Zhengs.
“Temple Hall Music” has commanded a good portion of Chiu Chow musical pieces, which include the Dao Melodies and Ming Qing Buddist Tunes introduced at an early time, as well as Royal Music derived from folklore Minor Tunes. The pieces are mainly for singing as well as accompaniment.
“Chiu Chow Large Gongs and Drums” – overpowering momentum, liberal and impromptu, ever changing, it usually is played for ceremonies and encouragements. The drummer is the main player and the conductor. All players of the gongs and the cymbals follow by observing and listening to the drummer. “Chiu Chow Large Gongs and Drums” has a unique way of percussion instrument language, which can only be ‘comprehended’. It is often accompanied by an orchestra led by a ‘caller.’ There are a number of various drumming and gonging music based on or derived from it, e.g., “Chiu Chow Flower Lighting Gongs and Drums”, “Chiu Chow 8-tuned Gongs and Drums”, “Chiu Chow Small Gongs and Drums”, “Chiu Chow Temple Hall Gongs and Drums”, “Chiu Chow Outside River Gongs and Drums”, which have become a whole series of Gongs and Drum pieces.