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Tsing Hua Journal of Chinese Studies
ISSN 0577-9170; DOI 10.6503/THJCS


Phonograph Records of the Peking Opera Masters: A Mentality Approach (A Peking Opera Perspective, Part 2)

Vol. 41 No. 1   03/2011    


Phonograph Records of the Peking Opera Masters: A Mentality Approach (A Peking Opera Perspective, Part 2)


Wang, An-chi  









Key words

Peking Opera, phonograph records, Yu Shu-yan, material culture, non-material culture    


         This paper focuses on Peking Opera records, specifically on the attitudes that opera performers exhibited when material and non-material cultures encountered each other. After the introduction of the phonograph disk into China, despite its far-reaching power that helped to establish Peking Opera paradigms, there arose skepticism among opera masters as to whether records were a trustworthy means of promoting their art. Some early artists actually published under the name of more famous opera masters. Here, I use the expression lou yezi (摟葉子) to describe the performers’ “two of a trade can never agree” mentality, which explains why replicate records flooded the market. The second half of this paper focuses on the recordings of Tan Xin-pei and Yu Shu-yan. Comparing selected arias from different stages of Yu’s career, one can see his changing attitude toward transmitting Tan’s style: initially, he chose different arias from the same work because he was unwilling to compete with his master, while later on, he deliberately picked the same selections to signal the establishment of his own style. The subtle yet complicated relationship between master and apprentice in the world of Peking Opera can be found in these recordings. The role of recordings in the establishment of paragons cannot be overlooked.



Author: Wang, An-chi
Genre: Article
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