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PMC Lecture: New instruments for the Chinese ‘folk’ orchestra

November 21, 2019 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm


Stewart Carter, professor of music, Wake Forest University

Dr. Carter will discuss new instruments for the Chinese folk orchestra. He is past president of the Society for Seventeenth-Century Music and the American Musical Instrument Society. Carter’s research interests include instruments of China, both ancient and modern. At Wake Forest, he teaches music history and theory, and directs the Collegium Musicum Vocal Ensemble. Free and open to the public.

From Dr. Carter:

In the early 1950s Chinese musicians and government officials worked to create a new type of large instrumental ensemble, based in part on the concept of the Western orchestra, but with indigenous instruments. The result was the so-called Chinese ‘folk’ orchestra. It soon became apparent that new versions of these folk instruments in the bass range were needed if these ensembles were to play fully harmonized versions of traditional melodies as well as new music written expressly for them. Among the strings, members of the huqin (bowed-string) family in particular were constructed in larger sizes; and among the winds, the sheng (mouth organ) and the suona (double-reed pipe). The bass sheng, made largely of metal and activated by buttons or a keyboard, and the bass suona, with its elaborate keywork, have proved to be relatively successful additions to the folk orchestra. Bass members of the huqin family, however, are generally so deficient in sonority that most folk orchestras today use Western-style cellos and basses.


November 21, 2019
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
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NC State Department of Music