Thursday, October 24, 2019

Catholic High School performed for Rentak Selangor

I was fortunate to be invited to attend Rentak Selangor and what makes it even special was that, one of the participated performancer was my secondary school – Catholic High School (CHS), Petaling Jaya. This time around; themed ‘Dendang Hati, Lagu Jiwa, Irama Kita’ covers the Chinese Rentak, Indian, Malay and Orang Asli Rentak. Showcasing unique and relatively new performances to the participating medias.

CHS performed Chinese Orchestra, Wushu, Taichi, Diablo as well as 24 Seasons Drums, welcoming us with Lion Dance by the Wushu Club. And I shall focus on the Chinese Orchestra as well as the 24 Season Drums.

Chinese Orchestra
Chinese orchestra is based on the structure and principles of a Western symphony orchestra using Chinese instruments. The orchestra is divided into four sections - wind, plucked strings, bow strings, and percussion, and is usually performs modernized traditional music. Some of the instruments used are Erhu (二胡), pipa (琵琶), Dulcimer (yangqin : )  and bamboo flute or (dizi : 笛子). The chinese orchestra in CHS emulates the Western orchestra in seating position of its musicians and composition techniques, it also sampled 2 songs from the popular Malay folks song namely Rasa Sayang and the famous Japanese song; Matsuri. The chinese song that they performed was the ever so famous Wong Fei Hung Theme Song - A Man Should Strengthen Himself.

1. Erhu 二胡

  • The erhu is one of the most important Chinese instruments, with a history of over 4,000 years.
  • Erhu (二胡) is a two-stringed bowed Chinese musical instrument, also known as the Chinese violin or Chinese two-stringed fiddle.
  • It can be used in both traditional and contemporary music arrangements; pop, rock and jazz.
  • Erhu is played vertically, resting on the musician's lap. It has no fingerboard, hence the player's fingers must hold and vibrate the strings by pressing only against the strings themselves.

2. Pipa 琵琶

  • The pipa (琵琶) is a four-stringed Chinese musical instrument, also known as Chinese lute.
  • It has been played for almost 2000 years in China and existed as early as the Han dynasty.
  • It was once reigned as the “king” of Chinese folk instruments.
  • The instrument has a pear-shaped wooden body and the string was once made of silk, however today, it is made of nylon-wrapped steel. Silk strings were played either with a plectrum or with bare fingers, but steel strings are played with finger picks

3. Chinese Drum 大鼓

  • The earliest known drums in China date back nearly four thousand years ago, around the time of the Shang Dynasty (c.1600 – c.1100 BCE)
  • Northern China prefer larger drums in terms of the size, while Southern China uses various types of small drums.
  • The Bass Drum (大鼓) are usually played with wooden drumsticks.
  • Back in those days, Chinese troops used drums to motivate troops, to help set a marching pace.

4. Bamboo flute 笛子

  • The dizi (笛子) is a Chinese transverse flute or Chinese bamboo flute.
  • Traditionally and most of the dizi is made by using (a single piece of) bamboo.
  • It is played using circular breathing "advanced" techniques.
  • The dizi is a key Chinese musical instrument, and is used in Chinese folk music, opera, and modern Chinese orchestra.

24 Seasons Drums
The 24 Seasons Drums, more known among the Chinese community in Malaysia as Ershisi Jieling Gu (二十四节令鼓) was invented in 1988 by a music teacher, Tan Hooi Song and a poet Tan Chai Puan, at Foon Yew High School in Johor. It consists of 24 large drum is called Shigu (獅鼓) that represents the agricultural seasons in the Chinese calendar. The original performance styles depict movements of farmers and activities on a farm. The name of each season is usually written in Chinese calligraphy on the drum.

The drum is played using two wooden sticks, striking its surface, sides or hitting the two sticks together. Each colour on the drum has a special meaning; the red symbolizes auspiciousness and passion, and the black represents perseverance, where else the yellow signifies the Chinese culture and tradition.

It was a very enlightening experience where we not only get to see but also to try our hand at the instruments (mainly drum lor, ehhehheee…).

Rentak Selangor Fam Trip is in collaboration with UPENS (Unit Perancangan Negeri Selangor), Tourism Selangor and all its sponsors with #GayaTravel as media coordinator.

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