The opera, called ¡°ache lhamo¡± in Tibetan, plays an important part in the social life of Tibetan people. It is a unique form in China¡¯s various theatrical arts. ¡°ache¡± means elder sister or a female, and ¡°lhamo¡± means a fairy. Tibetan opera is an all-round performing art that tells the story by the form of fol dances and songs. Folk troupes of Tibetan opera are easily encountered any time and anywhere, with the audience from miles away to crowd the performer. This art style is influenced by Tibetan Buddhism from the view of skills and contents.
It¡¯s widely believed that Tibetan opera comes from the following three aspects: folk songs and dance, folk rap, religious riruals and religious arts. Besides, there is a legend that the origin of Tibetan opera began from a dance to worhsip deity and the dance was created by Tibetan Buddhist, LianHuaShen, in 8th century. Later, LianHuaShen set up a theatrical troupe .It was composed of seven beautiful sisters who were good at dancing. They wrote and composed dramas of Buddhism stories and were on tour shows in Tibet. The shows not only cultivated ordinary people, but also collected some money.That is the beginning of Tibetan opera. Tibetan opera has many schools. It¡¯s full of Tibetan chracteristics. Prince Nor-bzang, Princess WenChen, Prince Dri-med-kun-iden, Maiden Vgro-ba-bzang-mo, Brothers Don-yod and Don-grub, Gzugs-kyi-nyi-ma, Pad-ma-vod-vba, Maiden Shang-ma are eight classical operas, which have wonderful music, beautiful and colorful masks and finery.
Bands, musicians and musical instruments
Before the democratic reform in 1959, LangDa ,one of the forms of Tibetan opera, was usually sung without accompaniments. Even in some important occasions people sing and dance, only drums and cymbals were used as accompaniments.Today, such accompaniments are still used in some local bands.The bands in Chamdo and Dege use flute and Jialin(Tibetan Suona)£
Since Tibetan Opera Trouple was set up in 1960, it has grew into a large one. More national musical instruments and some western ones have gradually appeared in performances. Langda, one of Tibetan operas, had stringed instruments as accompaniments. The Tibetan Opera Trouple has its unique band performing system in which Tibetan musical instruments, like Jing hu, Te qin, dulcimer, Six-stringed fiddle, Qu flute and Tibetan Suona play the main part with two-stringed fiddle, violin, cello, trumpet, trombone, clarinet, oboe, etc. are also used. The small-scale band of national musical instruments falls into five groups: Stringed instruments group(including Tibetan Jing Hu, Te Qin, two-stringed fiddle, violin.), Plucking stringed instruments group(including dulcimer, alto and high-pitch six-stringed fiddle), Wind instrument group(including Qu flute, Bang flute, Tibetan Suona, trombone, trumpet, clarinet, oboe.), Base instrument group( including high-pitched violin, low-pitched violin),Percussion instrument group (including Tibetan drum, Tibetan cymbal, Cuan bell, Da Ma drum). But this musical instrument system is still in the stage of experiment.
One drum and one cymbal were used as accompaniments in traditional Tibetan opera performance, which determines the crucial role of their players and the beats of drum and cymbal. Like other local dramas, Tibetan drama contains a large quantity of patterned dancing acts and performers must be in harmony with the beats of drums and cymbals, otherwise they feel lost in dance and are unable to continue the dances. Jiang Cunm, a famous drum and cymbal player in Jue Mu Long Tibetan opera troupe, viewed the art of playing drum and cymbal as ¡°the shining eyes in the face, the beating heart in the chest, the heaven I adore all the life.¡±
When he was young, Jiang Cun spent some time in Xue Chi Lin Ka, where Ge Er Ba, the Palace musical band of Dalai¡¯s, practiced drums and cymbals, and where Zi Qia Men Zhe Bu taught the traditional beats of drums and cymbals. Jiang Cun went there every day. He also learned from his teacher La Wang Ou Zhu the art of drum and cymbal and the rigidly craving for art. With the small hammer, less than 13 inches long, Jiang Cun can play dozens of moods and rhythms, making the beating and rhythms properly go with the delicate expressions of various characters. Weak beatring is for sorrow; strong beating for anger. Both beatings are slow drumbeat, called Duan Tong in Tibet. Fast beating is for tension and excitement. Allegro drumbeat is used in intermezzo for line reading; integrated drumbeat in riding, advancing, and climbing in the performance; Beng Zi has its own drumbeat. Jiang Cun¡¯s drumming evoked, intensified, and strengthened the artistic charm in Jue Mu Long school of Tibetan opera. Jiang Cun mastered the drum system for traditional Tibetan opera£ºthe drum system used the syllable of the Tibetan language to reflect the beat and rhythm of drums and cymbals.
The old drum system cannot fully meet the need of the development of Tibetan opera. When it comes to the greeting action in the show, the old drum system fails to express it. Then, Jiang Cun cooperated closely with the dramatist and the performers. Given the performers¡¯ conditions and the situation that Tibetan drama art has developed into a new level, they reformed the old drum system by extending some beats, changing some beats and even creating some new beats.
Zhanianqin (A plucking stringed instrument)
Zhanianqin, also called six-stringed fiddle, is one of the ancient plucking stringed instruments in Tibet and one of the main musical instruments in today¡¯s professional Tibetan Opera Trouple. Old-fashioned zhanianqin has three groups of sounds, each group having two strings. Alto and high-pitched zhanianqin used in Tibetan opera today derived from it, which was transformed from double strings to a single string. High-pitched zhanianqin has four strings, Alto zhanianqin having five strings.
Picture 1: Teqin
Teqin comes from the Han nationality, similar to the Han nationality¡¯s erhu (two-stringed fiddle) in shape, but the sound being louder, more high-pitched. It usually has a bamboo sound box, Mongolian goat¡¯s skin, and a hard bow. Teqin is used as a musical accompaniment in folk dances like Nang Ma and Dui Xie. Now, the accompaniment with teqin has developed into a new set of skills with Tibetan characteristics, and it¡¯s deeply loved by Tibetan people.
The name teqin is the transliteration of Chinese low-pitched fiddle.
Tibetan jinghu£ £
It derives from the Han people¡¯s jinghu, but its bowings and fingerings are greatly different. Tibetan jinghu is the main musical instrument in the folk dances like Nang Ma and Dui Xie. Its shape is similar to Jinghu, but it has a larger sounding box and a high-pitched tone with a little thickness.Tibetan people love it very much.
Picture 2: Tibetan drum
Different Tibetan operas use the same round wooden drum with two sides and a long handle. The size of the drum varies in different operas. The accompaniment drum in Tibetan opera has its special tone, whose sound is deep, loud, and strong.
Tibetan cymbal, made of copper, has two bubble shape plates and the two plates strike each other to produce sound. Different striking produces different tones. This instrument is widely used in Tibetan operas, folk dances and religion dances.
Jialin£ (Tibetan Suona)£
Jialin, made of wood, is embroidered delicately with gold and silver and jewels.It used to be an important religious musical instrument in monasteries, and later entered in Tibetan operas. It is the main accompaniment in De Ge Tibetan opera.