• Thank you friends readers and passers-by for your continuous support to my blog. I will not be able to update often now and many articles and short story left hanging in the draft box due to the pressure of time lately but nevertheless I am trying to cope with it and will post few as time goes by.

    Pleasant day and have a good life.



    Good things come to those who wait.
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Music is universal. Even if we did not know a word of it, music without doubt will attract the listeners. Any kind of music will have a category of lovers. Among categories of music widely known is jazz, sentimental, R&B, rock and soul music. I guess there are many more categories of beat in music and base on nationalities and culture to. Middle East, African drum beat another part of music I’ve heard before. Chinese Orchestra with their traditional instrument such as pipa, erhu, ruan and many more that we might never hear of it before. Chinese Orchestra has been in the industry for long (please refer attachments for details). Music has been in the world for centuries. We have heard about Chopan, Bach, Mozart and others. All of them making their waves in their era and it go on until today.

The new in town is Maher Zain. Personally I was introduced to Maher music by a friend from Brunei. It is a soothing music to hear and a good message in the lyrics. Maher a Lebanese moved to Sweden with his parents and now residing in the USA is in Malaysia for about two weeks ago and will perform at MBSA hall for two days. A solo concert Save the Soul is Maher first concert in Malaysia. Receiving his platinum during launching of his album in Malaysia Maher quoted if we have full of love everything will be easy. I do believed what is Maher saying. Love will save a soul. Not money and undeniably not hatred. These two things will actually destroy a soul.

Looking at the overwhelming welcome of Maher music into the music scene of Malaysia, it shows that music is universal since I’ve read somewhere his music is well accepted by the non-Muslim community to. And that is love all about. Reading his interview in our local newspaper, Maher had his past and he also mention how uncomfortable it is been asked a personal question. Being a foreign artist staying in a land of non-Muslim Maher confess his uneasiness with it. He wanted to be accepted as a singer and musician and leave his personal issues behind. With his confession about his past I salute his honesty on the issue and Alhamdulillah he found his way. And by writing a song or songs are his contributions to the Islamic nation to spread love and concern. A message well delivered.

It’s now taking me to our local industry for the same concept of Islamic song and message or nasyid. Preaching Islamic values through music, nasyid have been around the music industry for long. I was part a nasyid group when I was still in school. But what is the different from our nasyid and Maher Zain. Is it because of language barrier or it is lack of spirit in the music arrangement or vocal? Long ago if I recall correctly there was a female nasyid group by the name of Al-Jawaher. Nothing much I can remember of them but I do remember the name. Than comes along Raihan, Rabbani, Hijjaz, In-team and many more I assume. It is good to have new faces in the industry but where are they now? I heard of them once in a while or if they were invited to a function but when listening to the songs, I’ve lost touch. They failed to attract me as a listener.

I like to listen few songs from Rabbani before and I’ve seen them performed live once but it does not draw me to listen further after their first two cd’s. After the lost of the late Ustaz Asri, a member of the group I’ve lost touch. Raihan does maintain the vibrations but not as strong as any other singers from abroad and it goes to many of other group of nasyid. Nasyid mainly performed during function related to the Muslim celebration and the norm is during the opening ceremony of Musabaqah Al-Quran. It was good effort but sometimes or most of the times the groups are over doing it. Either with their costumes, movements or the song and rhythm is boring. There is no energy in their singing. That’s how I feel. They failed to spark me with their performance.

Why is this happen? I keep on trying to understand the whole atmosphere since Maher Zain album arrived in my collections. Songs like, for the rest of my life, Hold My Hand, Baraka Allah give me inspirations to write based on the lyrics. No doubt I have used one or two songs from our local groups in my writing and I am not denying the fact they are good but again one song in an album is not good. Can a singer depend on one song to receive the platinum award or any other award in the entertainment industry?

Music sometimes helps us to grow. To inspire us to moved forward. Having an astronautical engineering degree, Maher still choose his one dream. Why is that? According to his biography it is his passion, music. He follows his passion and work with it. Is it because of his passion we love to hear him singing? We fall in love with his music? Is it his sincerity brings him success? All these questions might be too much for us or some readers will say what this has got to do with success? Just give us time, look into ourselves and ask ourselves are we happy with what we are doing? Majority will give an answer…what to do I have no choice or what to do I have five school going children. At the end of the day we are a frustrated individuals and I conclude the same goes with few of our recording artist and to the actor and actress to.

The word is passion. We don’t have passion. They cut an album because they are just lucky and with one album give them pocket money. Few months down the road, there will be another group form and introduced to the market and will linger around for awhile before another one comes. Is that the only different between Maher Zain and our local entertainers? The answer is no. There are many reasons behind it but the core and major ones is the lack of energy in their songs and there is no passion at all. I have said several times before we are small industry compared to even Indonesia.

There is no healthy challenge and we are full of hatred. When we saw new comers with vibrant energies, talent and full of passion, we do not accept them with open arms. If we do have an artist with Maher Zain confession do you think our reporters will stop at one. I am sure many will say no because we likes to promote the weaknesses of others rather that the strong point. That’s the different why Maher Zain creates waves in Malaysia within five months being into the market. Maher sang with passion and energy. He doing it with love and he vibrate love in his singing.

Somehow or other I do feel sad because I am not able to promote our songs in the younger generation in the family beside few that they really like and love. My nephew listen to Justin Bieber, Adam Lambert, David Cook and few of the oldies like Bon Jovi, Rod Stewart, Frank Sinatra and the list goes on. My nieces listen to Shakira, Alicia Keyes, Lady Gaga and again the list goes on. Can I blame them? I can’t because when listening to our local singers they will start saying the song even failed to put me to sleep. It is disastrous. I have two young nieces and nephew. My nieces watches Glee and can even remember the songs even with the intro, she just turn five in September. My nephew born to a musician mother and he can hum Frank Sinatra and he is only three years old. Beside that he can sing along what do you want from me by Adam Lambert.

Again the question arises, where are we? A chat with a friend recently says he listen to Linkin’ Park and it has been long since I heard my circle of friends listening to any of our local singers. I think and feel the older and middle generations still have influence in my selection. Khatijah Ibrahim, Ramli Sarip, Tan Sri S.M. Salim, Francesca Peters, Jamal Abdillah to name a few but please don’t ask me about the new comers. I don’t even recognise their songs let alone the singers. Again something strikes my mind, we do have good singer’s but unfortunately they are not well accepted in our local industry. Reason being they are different from other I guess, I mean their kind of music. Wah Idris, Sohaimi Meor Hassan and Kopratasa among the soul musician in the country but they fail to capture the heart of the nation. Again is it because of language barrier or they are just not acceptable to the music scene.

I don’t see any problem about language because music is universal. The other concrete reason might be is we don’t have enough listeners in our country for their kind of songs, music and lack of commercial value. But believed me their album is in the rack of most who understand music and listen to it because they have energies and significant lyrics. From what I can see around the entertainment industry we will never go far including our film and movie. We don’t have the strength and because of the success of Nur Kasih the two lead roles is in lime light because of gossip and not because of their talent and passion. I bring Nur Kasih in the discussion because Maher watch Nur Kasih. There must be notable about the drama that makes Maher watches it and it is a perfect example on the passion, vibrations we are talking about.

We have talented and good lyricist but we do not have energetic singers. And all again goes back to attitude, passion and love doing it because we love doing it not because we have to do it.

I feel sorry for Tiz Zaqyah and Remy Ishak. They are two good young and upcoming actors in the movie scene but unfortunately they are not given credit to their capabilities. So much so the two category of entertainment industry are going for the same direction. Commercial values compared to passion, talent and good vibrations. Reporters also do not give a good job in promoting the local artist. Since I do follow Tiz and Remy after Nur Kasih the gossip surrounding them is something unbelievable. As for me their talent is the up-most priority because their talent is their strongest asset in the industry. Not gossip. Who does not have history behind them? We all do whether it is big, small, and significant or not we will have one. But unfortunately we are still part of the nosy nations where we have all the time in this world to gossip about others and I salute Maher for his statement regarding this issue (attached two of Maher interviews with the local reporters.)

A friend pointed out to me the other day, another thing that I failed to realise about Nur Kasih. Nur Kasih is not directed by orang melayu and because of that there is a wind of change in the drama and that is part of the reason Maher able to accept it.

Are we able to change? Are we still waiting for another wake-up call? Or we will remain as a weak and stay the way we are. The change should come from us and within us. We are not able to change a nation before we are able to change ourselves. Think about it folk where are we going to be in five years, ten years and more, if we are given the time. Are we able to build a nation or are we going to destroy them? Each and every one of us has our responsibilities and duties to each other and it will take us in developing our nations. Big or small is not a factor. It will still contribute and when we add-up the result will be tremendous. It will be a huge achievement.

As Tiz always said…spread love and we will received love. Once we received it we might know the different.

Owned and written by : Sanaa 14/10/10


Hijrah Maher Zain
Oleh Farihad Shalla Mahmud

Penyanyi lagu Thank You Allah cuba lupakan kisah kejahilan

SUATU ketika dulu dia pernah lalai dan hanyut dalam arus dosa dan noda. Leka dengan godaan dunia sehingga lupa pada agamanya sendiri. Itulah pengakuan penyanyi popular, Maher Zain, saat mendedahkan kisah silam sewaktu zaman kejahilannya tiga tahun lalu. Sepanjang tempoh itu, dia terlalu asyik mengejar keduniaan dan banyak menghabiskan masa dengan berhibur, membuatkan dia semakin lupa pada yang Esa.

Ditambah hakikat dia sering dikelilingi sahabat yang tunggang langgang perjalanan hidupnya membuatkan Maher tersasar dalam mencari arah tuju. Mujurlah dalam keadaan terumbang-ambing begitu, Tuhan cepat memberikan kesedaran. Lantas, dia bangkit dan mencari jalan memperbetulkan diri.

“Tiga tahun lalu, hidup saya penuh dengan noda dan dosa. Macam-macam perkara jahat yang saya lakukan. Mencari hiburan di kelab malam, bersosial hingga lupa diri. Tapi mujurlah kesedaran itu datang dengan cepat dan saya tidak sempat untuk terjebak dalam gejala sosial yang lebih dahsyat seperti penyalahgunaan dadah dan ketagihan alkohol.

“Dari situ saya sedar, Tuhan sentiasa ada di sisi saya untuk memberi panduan dan tidak mahu terus membiarkan saya terus sesat dan terumbang-ambing dalam menjalani kehidupan yang fana ini,” ujar Maher ketika ditemui pada majlis pelancaran album perdananya, Thank You Allah, di Menara Kuala Lumpur, Selasa lalu.

Pada majlis itu, Maher turut menerima anugerah Platinum apabila album yang mula berada di pasaran Malaysia sejak Mei lalu itu berjaya dijual sebanyak 30,000 unit. Satu angka yang cukup hebat untuk penyanyi baru sepertinya.

Penghijrahannya itu dilakukan dengan rela hati, tanpa sebarang paksaan dari sesiapa. Cerita penyanyi Insha Allah ini, sampai satu tahap, ada getar di hati menyatakan apa yang dilakukannya itu adalah salah.

“Ada ketika saya sendiri sampai tahap bertegang urat dengan kawan-kawan dan mempertikaikan apa yang kami sudah lakukan sebelum ini. Dari situ, saya secara berdikit-dikit meninggalkan semua tabiat buruk. Perkenalan dengan komposer terkenal Red One menjadi titik tolak saya mengembangkan bakat sebagai seorang penulis lagu.

“Berdasarkan pengalaman yang dilalui, saya cuba menyampaikan mesej bahawa walaupun kita sudah tersesat jauh, namun Allah sentiasa ada di sisi dan tetap menunjukkan jalan kebenaran,” tutur pemuda berusia 28 tahun ini.

Apabila dia menghasilkan album sulungnya, apa yang berlegar di fikiran adalah sekadar berkongsi bakat serta menyalurkan amanat berguna untuk semua penggemar muziknya. Namun tidak pula dia menyangka sambutan luar dugaan yang terbentang di depan mata.

“Saya tak tahu nak kata apa. Apabila album ini berjaya menarik perhatian peminat dari pelbagai negara, itu sudah cukup menggembirakan saya. Sekurang-kurangnya saya tahu mereka suka dengan apa yang saya hasilkan. Dan lebih mengujakan, golongan bukan Islam juga menyukai album ini,” cerita Maher lagi.

Ditanya apakah pandangannya terhadap sikap sesetengah pihak yang begitu fobia dengan Islam serta sering melabelkan agama suci ini dengan perkara tidak baik, Maher berkata, menjadi tanggungjawab setiap umat Islam untuk menunjukkan sifat terpuji seperti yang dikehendaki Islam supaya mereka di luar sana tidak mudah terpengaruh dengan dakyah yang disebarkan musuh agama.

Cinta sumber inspirasi

LAGU nyanyiannya penuh dengan rasa cinta. Walaupun secara zahirnya album ini jelas menyatakan perasaan cintanya terhadap Allah, namun jelas pemuda yang berasal dari Lubnan ini, mesejnya lebih dari apa yang tersurat.

“Memang kebanyakan lagu saya memperlihatkan rasa cinta pada Allah, tetapi pada masa sama, lagu ini juga boleh ditujukan kepada ibu dan bapa, isteri, anak dan ibu serta kekasih. Terpulang pada pendengar untuk menterjemahkannya. Namun apa yang saya boleh katakan, semua lagu yang dihasilkan mengambil frasa cinta sebagai sumber inspirasi.

“Apabila dalam hati kita penuh dengan perasaan cinta, maka semuanya akan menjadi mudah,” ujar Maher yang turut popular dengan lagu cinta berhantu berjudul For the Rest of My Life.

Biarpun bersikap terbuka dan ramah kala temubual ini dilangsungkan, Maher bagaimanapun agak berahsia orangnya.

“Terus terang, saya memang tidak selesa apabila ditanyakan soal peribadi. Kalau saya boleh jawab, saya jawab. Jika tidak, biarlah pertanyaan lebih tertumpu pada kerjaya saya saja,” tegasnya yang hadir ke Kuala Lumpur bagi menjayakan konsert solo Save the Soul di Auditorium Majlis Bandaraya Shah Alam (MBSA), pada 14 dan 15 Oktober ini.


Gelombang tsunami Maher Zain


AKSI Maher Zain sewaktu membuat persembahan pada sidang akhbar yang berlangsung di Menara Kuala Lumpur, baru-baru ini.

APABILA dia duduk dan menyelak kembali lembaran hidupnya, Maher Zain tidak pernah menyangka dia mampu mengecapi nikmat kemewahan seperti hari ini.

Jauh sekali untuk meraih populariti mahupun kemasyhuran, apa yang dimahukan Maher hanyalah untuk masyarakat mendapat mesej yang berguna daripada karyanya.

Baginya, jika pendengar dan masyarakat dapat menikmati alunan lagu-lagunya serta menghayati karyanya dengan penuh jiwa, itu sudah menjadi satu kejayaan yang membanggakan dirinya.

“Saya sendiri tidak pernah menyangka yang satu hari nanti muzik saya diterima dengan baik seperti sekarang.

“Muzik yang saya cipta semuanya lahir dari hati yang tulus serta sarat dengan perasaan cinta yang ingin saya tujukan kepada semua manusia di dunia ini tanpa sebarang rasa prejudis.

“Kerana itu, saya bangga dan gembira kalau pendengar sendiri mempunyai perasaan yang sama. Ia jelas menunjukkan dakwah saya menerusi muzik berjaya membuahkan hasil seperti mana yang saya mahukan,” ujar jejaka berusia 28 tahun ini bersungguh.

Kunjungan Maher ke negara ini sememangnya mendapat perhatian yang cukup meluas dan memang tidak keterlaluan dikatakan, dia telah mencetus fenomena baru sehingga mampu menjadi kegilaan ramai.

Bayangkan tiket-tiket untuk menyaksikan persembahannya, Save The Soul pada di Auditorium Majlis Bandaran Shah Alam (MBSA), Shah Alam, Selangor, malam ini dan esok sudah habis dijual.

Semua itu berlaku hanya dalam tempoh seminggu sebaik sahaja tempahan dibuka pertengahan September lalu.

Kerana itu, ramai yang hampa dan kecewa apabila tidak berpeluang untuk menikmati alunan muzik Maher yang sememangnya cukup menyentuh jiwa itu.

Kadang-kala tertanya juga mengapa Maher boleh menjadi kegilaan rakyat tempatan. Kemunculannya juga bagaikan menyemarak kembali pasaran muzik nasyid yang pernah gah satu ketika dulu.

Biarpun nuansa R&B menjadi tunjang muzik Maher, harus diakui muzik yang dibawakannya telah mengubah persepsi masyarakat bahawa irama nasyid boleh dipelbagaikan asalkan ia masih lagi berada di landasan seperti yang telah disyariatkan.

Dunia seni Maher

Sebelum mengorak langkah sebagai seorang penyanyi, Maher terlebih dahulu memulakan karier seninya sebagai penerbit album serta aktif dengan kerja belakang tabir di sebuah studio muzik terkemuka di New York, Amerika Syarikat.

Ketika itu, dia telah berkerjasama dengan nama-nama besar industri hiburan seperti Kat Deluna dan Lady Gaga dalam penerbitan album mereka.

Namun, pertemuannya dengan RedOne telah merobah segala-galanya dan bermula detik itu, Maher semakin yakin dengan langkah seninya.

Tanpa segan-silu, dia menghulurkan pita rakaman nyanyiannya kepada RedOne yang ternyata terpikat dan terus menawarkan peluang kepada Maher untuk bergelar seorang penyanyi.

Biarpun memiliki kelulusan dalam bidang Kejuruteraan Aeronautikal, namun, jiwanya yang sudah diabadikan untuk muzik mengatasi segala-galanya.

Berbicara mengenai album perdananya, Thank You Allah yang mula dipasarkan tahun lalu, Maher tidak henti-henti mengucapkan syukur dengan kejayaan yang dikecapi hanya daripada sebuah album sahaja.

Sebaik sahaja ia dilancarkan, Thank You Allah terus menduduki tangga pertama dalam carta album World Music seperti mana yang dicatatkan oleh Amazon.com.

“Saya memang mencintai muzik dan kerana itu, sebahagian daripada hidup saya dihabiskan dengan muzik dari pelbagai genre. Tetapi, semuanya gagal memikat hati saya sehinggalah saya menemui muzik yang benar-benar menakluk jiwa saya.

“Album pertama saya ini memberi gambaran jelas tentang identiti saya sendiri sebagai seorang Muslim. Biarpun muziknya moden, dalam masa yang sama, saya tidak harus melupakan akar umbi keturunan saya,” ceritanya lagi.

Mencipta populariti dalam masa yang singkat, tidakkah Maher gusar seandainya dia bakal menjadi seorang penyanyi yang bermusim?

“Kejayaan yang dimiliki sekarang tidak boleh dijadikan satu jaminan untuk terus berjaya di masa hadapan.

“Saya tidak mahu menghasilkan muzik yang sama dan mahu terus bekerja keras agar saya dapat mampu bertahan lama dalam industri seni.

“Kalau boleh, saya juga mahu melihat karya dan muzik saya diterima dengan baik di seluruh dunia tanpa mengira latar belakang dan kedudukan.

“Setakat ini, saya menerima maklum balas yang cukup positif daripada orang ramai dan apa yang membanggakan apabila ada yang masuk Islam selepas mendengar dan menghayati album saya,” ucapnya yang begitu mengagumi kumpulan nasyid Raihan sambil menyatakan keinginannya untuk berkolaborasi dengan mereka.


The ancient Chinese orchestra

According to recent archaeological findings, ancient Chinese music was much more developed and sophisticated than is generally believed. Music had already been an important element in traditional ritualistic ceremonies during the Shang Dynasty (c. 1550-1111 BC), and it reached one of its greatest peaks during the Zhou Dynasty (c. 1111-222 BC).

It featured a great abundance of percussion instruments. There were also several wind instruments, but only a few zither-type string instruments were used. All the bowed string instruments and most of the plucked string instruments first came to China from Central Asia after the Han dynasty (202 BC-AD 219).

The Tang dynasty (AD 618-907) saw the first wave of musical influence from Central Asia, which was a very important epoch in the evolution of Chinese music. However, it was during the Song dynasty (AD 960-1279) that Chinese music reached its maturity.

Traditional Chinese musical instruments were classified into eight groups (bayin) according to their materials: gourd, earthenware, hide, wood, stone, bronze, silk and bamboo. It is said that there were more than 70 different musical instruments, but many of them have been lost or are obsolete today.
[edit] The modern large Chinese orchestra

The modern large Chinese orchestra is a 20th century development and is based on the Western symphony orchestra, but uses Chinese instruments in place of Western instruments. It also emulates the Western orchestra in terms of the seating position of its musicians.

The typical Chinese orchestra of today also includes the Western cello and double bass, as well as other Western instruments like the vibraphone and triangle. Also, many of the Chinese instruments are modified versions of traditional instruments, for example, the diyinsheng (large bass sheng), and the zhongyin (alto) suona, which is fitted with keys.

Since its inception, the music produced by the Chinese orchestra is unique and very distinct from any Western counterpart. However, the repertoire of the Chinese orchestra may include adaptations of some Western orchestral pieces. Such orchestras often perform modernized traditional music called guoyue.
[edit] Instruments

The modern Chinese orchestra typically consists of four main sections. These instruments are generally grouped according to the way they are played – the bowed strings (inclusive of the Western bass section), plucked strings, woodwinds and percussion.
[edit] Plucked string (弹拨乐)

This section sets the structure of Chinese orchestras apart from Western symphony orchestras. Consisting of the yangqin (扬琴), liuqin (柳琴), pipa (琵琶), zhongruan (中阮), daruan (大阮), sanxian (三弦), guzheng (古筝), and konghou (箜篌), this largely plucked chordophone-based section creates tunes unachievable by the Western orchestral instruments.
[edit] Yangqin (扬琴)

The yangqin is a dulcimer played using a pair of bamboo mallets rubberised on one end. Besides hitting the strings with the rubberised ends, the mallets can also be turned over to create a sharper note (this technique is called 反竹 (fanzhu)). Some songs even require the player to hold the mallets vertically and use the other end or even using the player hands to pluck. It is a versatile instrument capable of playing rapid running notes or arpeggios.
[edit] Liuqin (柳琴)

The liuqin is a soprano range lute. It looks similar to the pipa but smaller with two sound holes on each side of the body. The four strings are tuned G3-D4-G4-D5. By pressing slightly above any of the frets on the instrument, one can vary the pitch of the liuqin. It is commonly played using a plectrum like in the guitar. The sound is very bright and penetrating, making it a very effective soprano instrument. Its range is similar to that of a violin.
[edit] Pipa (琵琶)

The pipa is the alto range member of the plucked string section. One of the more well-known Chinese instruments, this instrument has been associated with imperial concubines and songstresses at teahouses, often conveying the stereotypical image of a demure damsel. Despite the absence of soundholes, it is able to produce music as well as other plucked string instruments. The modern-day player has to wear a set of customised acrylic nails on the right hand. From simple plucking with the thumb and index finger and saoxian (sweeping one’s fingers across all strings with gusto) to yaozhi (tilting the instrument and using the middle finger to continuously cut across the strings) and lunzou (by plucking with all five fingers, one after another in a wavelike motion), the playing techniques of the pipa are visibly dimensionless. Its tuning is A2-D3-E3-A3.
[edit] Zhongruan (中阮)

The zhongruan is plays the role of the tenor in this section. Its four strings are tuned to G2-D3-G3-D4. The instrument can be played using a plectrum similar to a guitar pick, as with the liuqin, or using a set of 2 to 5 acrylic fingernails. Mainstream ruan players use plectrums, though there are some schools which teach the fingernail technique, similar to that of the pipa. Pipa players who play ruan as a second instrument also use fingernails. Plectrums produce a louder and more clearer tone, which makes them suitable for orchestral use. Fingernails allow performance of polyphonic solo music, however this advantage is not useful in orchestras, where the zhongruan mainly plays the accompaniment. It possesses a very mellow tone.
[edit] Daruan (大阮)

The daruan is the bass lute. A larger version of the zhongruan with strings tuned to a perfect fourth lower: D2-A2-D3-A3. Soloists generally use the D-A-D-A tuning, as it allows easy performance of diatonic chords. Some orchestral players tune to C-G-D-A, which is the same as cello tuning. The advantage of using C-G-D-A in orchestras is so that the daruan can easily double the cello part.

Other members of the ruan family are gaoyinruan (soprano, tuning G3-D4-G4-D5); xiaoruan (alto, tuning D3-A3-D4-A4) and diyinruan (contrabass, tuning G1-D2-G2-D3).
[edit] Sanxian (三弦)

The sanxian is the only plucked string instrument without frets. As can be inferred from the name (san, lit. three; xian, lit. string), it has three strings. The sanxian family of instruments is very large, with different variants used in different tribes in China. The orchestra often uses dasanxian (da, lit. large) has a soundbox covered on both sides with python skin. Its sound is forceful, penetrating and articulated; in fact, a single sanxian can be clearly heard even in a 70-member orchestra.

It has a strong folk flavour, which often puts it in the limelight when in usage with other instruments. For this reason too, it is not suitable for playing accompaniment, as it tends to overshadow the sound of the melody instruments. It is more frequently used in plucked string ensembles and solos. Even when used in the orchestra, it is also attributed with the main melody. However, since the orchestral usage of the sanxian is lower as compared to the other instruments, sanxian players also take up a second instrument, which is usually the zhongruan.

Sometimes Yueqin are also included in this section.
[edit] Bowed strings (弦乐)

The bowed strings mainly consist of the huqin (胡琴) family of instruments, and sometimes the cello and double bass instruments, which provide the bass sound that traditional Chinese music lacks.
[edit] Huqin (胡琴)

The huqin series of instruments in common usage consist of the erhu (二胡), zhonghu (中胡) and gaohu (高胡). The gaohu (highest-pitched of the series) and zhonghu (lowest-pitched huqin) are proportionately fewer in numbers in the Chinese orchestra. The erhu forms the bulk of this section and is divided into distinct sections, known as erhu I and erhu II. These two sub-sections play either similar or vastly different melodies simultaneously, which is akin to the first and second violins in a Western orchestra. Occasionally, the concertmaster will play the banhu (板胡) but it may not always be the concertmaster – an example is the piece Mang Chun (忙春), or jinghu (京胡), for instance in Zhao Ji Ping’s Festival Overture (庆典序曲), if there is a solo part for it. There are various ways to play an erhu, such as bowing or plucking the strings.

The uniqueness of the huqin series lies in how music can be produced from two fine metal strings less than 2 mm apart, without any frets or fingerboards. Well-known solo pieces for the erhu includes Sanmen Gorge Capriccio (三门峡畅想曲), Guang Ming Xing (光明行) as well as Lan Hua Hua (兰花花).

Banhu may sometimes be singularly used in the Huqin section if a strong piccolo voice is needed.
[edit] Cello and double bass (低音)

The cello and double bass can also be considered part of this section. This is true in some orchestras, but in others the cello and bass are considered distinct from the bowed strings. Some Chinese orchestras still use the gehu and diyingehu (bass gehu), but due to the limitations and the costs of the instruments, they are now quite rare. A notable example of an ensemble still utilising the gehu and diyingehu is the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra. In some Chinese orchestras in China, they used a instrument called laruan, which has the shape of a ruan but is larger in size and is played either plucking or using a bow similar to a cello or bass bow.
[edit] Wind (吹管乐)

Chinese wind instruments include the dizi (笛子, a bamboo flute), sheng (笙, which is free reed mouth organ) and suona (唢呐, a double reed oboe).
[edit] Dizi (笛子)

The main types of dizis frequently used in the wind section are the bangdi (梆笛), the qudi (曲笛), and occasionally the xindi (新笛). The bangdi is shorter in length and smaller in diameter and produces a clear and bright tone. It is frequently used in bangzi opera of Northern and southern China, hence the name bangdi. The longer and thicker qudi produces a richer and mellower tone. The bangdi is usually a fourth higher in pitch than the qudi. The xindi is longer and thicker than the qudi, with extra finger holes and no membrance. It is even lower in pitch and mellower in tone than the qudi. In substitution to the xindi, the dadi (or diyindi) may be used; this instrument has a membrane an sounds like a low qudi.
[edit] Sheng (笙)

The sheng is a Chinese free-reed bamboo mouth organ. The earliest type ever recorded in history had 14 pipes and was discovered in Zeng Houyi’s tomb in Hubei province. The most common types of sheng today include a 17-pipe instrument and a modified version for contemporary compositions, which has an expanded range of 21-37 pipes. The tone of the sheng is lucid and bright. It has a huge range, a chromatically complete scale and is able to produce chord voicings. Most orchestras use a full-range of Sheng, including the Gaoyin (soprano), Zhongyin (alto), Cizhongyin (tenor) and Diyin (bass) sheng.
[edit] Suona (唢呐)

The tone produced by suona is loud, piercing and uplifting, thus it is usually used to perform vibrant and lively pieces. However, its repertoire also includes some mellower pieces. The suona is commonly used as an accompaniment in the Chinese opera, singing or dancing, but also for more sombre occasions, such as during a traditional Chinese funeral procession. It is also utilised in solos or ensembles for various occasions and ceremonies. Being a double-reeded wind instrument, it is extremely difficult to master it to produce perfect pitches. There are many different type such as alto or bass. Many Suona players are also now doubling on Guan, a double-reed Chinese instrument of much mellower quality (like that of the clarinet.) This usage has also led to the development of keyed lower Guan, such as the Zhongyin and Diyin Guans.

Occasionally, koudi(口笛),(埙) xun, Haojiao(horn), Hailuo(shell) and xiao(萧) would also be used according to the composition.
[edit] Percussion (打击乐)

The history of Chinese percussion instruments is longer than any other section of traditional Chinese instruments. The character of the drum was first recorded in the ancient inscriptions on oracle bones and tortoise shells dating from the Shang Dynasty. At that time (1562-1066 BC) more than 50 percent of Chinese instruments were percussive in nature.

Percussion instruments produce sound through striking on the surface. Common materials used for making percussion instruments in the past were gold, rock, wood and bamboo.

The percussion section is the most important section in Chinese opera, particularly in scenes involving martial arts, known as wu chang. The player of the bangu, directs the rest of the orchestra through his different methods and positions of striking his instrument. He has control over the overall development of the action and creation of atmosphere, and is equivalent to the conductor of the Western orchestra.

Because of the richness of the timbre, sound and variety of Chinese percussion instruments, they are frequently used in Western-style musical compositions. A large gong can create a stately and imposing atmosphere; dramatic effects can be achieved with the tanggu (堂鼓), muyu (木鱼) and qing (磬) also can invoke an element of mystery.

Percussion instruments are usually considered easy to learn and perform. As many different percussion instruments produce different sound effects, it is frequently used in depicting joyful and exciting occasions such as harvests, marriages, as well as other traditional Chinese festivals.

The more popular percussion instruments include luo (锣), gu (鼓), bo (cymbals), and bianzhong (编钟).
[edit] Bangu (板鼓)

The bangu (ban, lit. flat board; gu, lit. drum) is also commonly called jing bangu (京板鼓) (bangu for Beijing opera) and danpi (single drumhead). The drum frame is constructed of thick wedges of hardwood glued together in a circle, wrapped with a metal band. Its body is bell-mouthed in shape, which opens at the bottom. Its top surface (about 25 cm), covered with a piece of pig or cow hide, has a small convex central circular opening (about 5 or 6 cm in diameter), which is called the guxin (lit. drum heart, which is the middle of the drum), the actual sounding position. The player strikes on this central area with a pair of bamboo sticks. The use of normal sticks would cause the pain of hand and the bamboos sticks used are also not commonly used.

The type used for Beijing opera and other northern Chinese musical dramas, with a smaller central striking area, has a relatively solid tone quality. In the southern gong and drum ensemble, the bangu has a larger striking area, rendering a looser and softer tone. The southern type can be used for solos with a variety of techniques and rhythms. The jingbangu is the lead instrument in the Beijing opera.
[edit] Bo (钹)

The bo (bronze cymbals) were frequently used in Sui and Tang dynasties (AD 581-907) with varying designs. Now it is commonly made of high-tin bronze.

The performer strikes the cymbals together. The most common type now is the jingbo (the prefix jing referring to Beijing, the prefix used to define the instruments in the Beijing opera). This type is clear and forceful in tone quality. It is also used in other regional opera genres and ensembles, and is one of the four major instruments (drum, large and small gongs and cymbals) in the jubilant luogu (锣鼓) (gong and drum) music. In local operas, the luogu ensemble often accompanies acrobatic fighting.
[edit] Luo (锣)

The luo, or Chinese gong, is made of high-tin bronze, hammered into the shape of a sifter. Its central resonating area can be either flat or convex. Its long history can be traced back to the early Western Han period (206 BC-AD 24) according to an archaeological find from a tomb of that period in Guangxi. In a text dating to the Tang period (AD 618-907), it was known as the shaluo (沙锣, lit. sand gong), which is among the earlier evidence of gong usage in classical literature.

There are many varieties of gongs, each with varying tone qualities. The name is usually preceded by a prefix to specify each different kind. The largest type (over 120 cm in diameter) called dachaoluo, known for its deep and grave tone, is used in official settings like weddings, funerals and temple ceremonies. The smallest, the goujiaoluo (狗叫锣, lit. dog-calling gong), only 8 cm in diameter, can often be seen in theatrical ensembles in the southern parts of Fujian. Both the larger and the smaller boast distinct acoustic features, functions and performing styles. Different size and thinkness of the cymbals will affect the sound tone being produced. The da di luo(big gong) has a very deep sound in contrast to the goujiaoluo.
[edit] Tanggu (堂鼓)

The tanggu drum (tang, lit. hall; gu, lit. drum) is listed as a hide instrument in the traditional bayin classification of Chinese instruments. The common type is similar in shape to a barrel. Its wooden body, entirely painted red with decorative patterns, is covered with two drumheads of cowhide or pig skin. Four lateral iron rings around the shell allow the drum to be vertically suspended in a frame. It is struck with a pair of wooden beaters. Tone quality can be modified by moving the striking point closer to the centre of the surface, with varying dynamics. Usually the different tone are not easily identified.

The tanggu is constructed mainly in two types. The larger one, with diameters of over a meter, can produce a deep and sonorous tone and the smaller, with a diameter of 20 to 30 cm, is solid and forceful in tone quality. It is traditionally used with other instruments like luo and bo in folk festivals, and in ensembles or for accompaniment as well. Types for local operas are mostly smaller, for instance, the jing tanggu in Beijing opera. Some could also be known as dagu, datanggu, xiaogu or xiaotanggu.
[edit] Muyu (木鱼)

The muyu (mu, lit. wooden; yu, lit. fish) was used originally to accompany Buddhist chants and monks only. An account of this instrument was found in the literature of the Ming dynasty (AD 1368-1644): “The muyu is carved from a block of wood and into the shape of a fish, then its interior is hollowed out. Sounds can be produced by striking.” Since the Qing dynasty (AD 1644-1911) the instrument has appeared in folk ensembles.

The muyu is mostly made of mulberry (or Chinese Toon) wood. The larger type is primarily used in Buddhist temples, but recently appears in sets, varying in diameters and tonal qualities. The set is mainly used for regular rhythms when used for accompaniment. Playing the different parts of the muyu could have different volume.
[edit] Bianzhong (编钟)

The bianzhong (bian, lit. collected; zhong, lit. bell) is listed as a primary metal instrument, and thus heads the metal section under the bayin classifications. Its long history dates back to the Shang dynasty (1766-1122 BC), when a set of 3 bronze bells was common, though the earlier earthenware type of the late Stone Age was unearthed in Shaanxi province. From the 5th to the 3rd century BC the number of bells increased, mostly from 9 to 13.

The largest set ever recorded was exhumed from the tomb of Marquis Yi of the State of Zeng, Zeng-hou Yi (from sometime after 433 BC) in Hubei province. This archaeological finding has become a focus of international academic attention. The bianzhong being found still have a good sound quality despite many years after it was made. The bianzhong set consists of 64 bells, hung in three layers, with the upper ones called niuzhong (bells with bronze loops for vertical suspension), while those on the two lower layers were called yongzhong (bells with handles for suspension at a slight angle). Because of the shape of the bells, two different pitches, a major or minor third apart, can be produced on any of the bells, depending on the two striking locations, which are either the frontal or the lateral. 12 semitones are found in the set, with a total range of 5 octaves.

The inscriptions on the bells unite to form a literary text on the large tone system of the bianzhong, valuable sources for the study of the musical culture in the Warring States period during the Eastern Zhou dynasty (475-221 BC). With the construction for two different pitches from a single bell and its unique casting methods, the bianzhong has established itself as one of the wonders of traditional Chinese music.
[edit] Lion drum (狮鼓)

The size of a lion drum is very big, and is widely used for the Lion dance. There are normally 2 types, the northern Lion drum (normally in red) and southern lion drum (painted in black). It is a single-headed drum, and its large size helps to create a majestic, booming resonance upon striking of the drum head. The lion drum head is made of thick, durable goat skin, and its wooden body is normally decorated with intricate hand-drawn drawings. The sound produce by it usually sound higher key than the datanggu.
[edit] Yunluo (云锣)

The yunluo (yun, lit. cloud; luo, lit. gong) was first mentioned in historical records as yun’ao during the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368). The small gongs in a set, usually numbering up to 10 and in distinct pitches, are suspended vertically in a wooden frame. Each is attached to a cubicle within the frame, secured by cords. These gongs are all of the same diameter but vary in thickness. In terms of tuning, thicker dimensions give higher pitches, and thinner ones, lower. The instruments are struck with a small beater.

In a recently-redesigned type, the number of gongs was increased, ranging from 29 to 38, and two mallets with either hard or soft tips are used for different tonal effects. One sounds loud and solid, while the other soft and drifting. Owing to the expanded range, modification in yunluo thickness cannot change the pitch of each small gong. Thus varying diameters are used for the new tones for variation.

The yunluo are mostly used in ensembles, and recently in solos as well.
[edit] Notation

Whilst jianpu (numerical notation) is most often used in the modern Chinese orchestra, standard notation is also sometimes used, especially for the keyed sheng, Western instruments like the cello and double bass, and also occasionally for certain percussion instruments (for Western instruments like the vibraphone and triangle).
[edit] Modern developments

In September 2008, the 21st Century Chinese Orchestra Development Group (CO21) was formed by enthusiasts to gather support for the improvement of orchestra formation and instruments that have hindered the development of Chinese classical music. Many such suggested improvements include a change in orchestra layout, the use of staff notation and also modifications to existing instruments.
[edit] Notable Chinese orchestras

* China Broadcasting Chinese Orchestra
* China Central Chinese Orchestra
* Guangdong Chinese Orchestra
* Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra
* National Chinese Orchestra
* Singapore Chinese Orchestra
* Firebird Youth Chinese Orchestra

Compiled by : Sanaa 14/10/10


3 Responses

  1. Salam San,
    I really missed out the series and at last seat down here…..and remind me this words
    Life is like a piano, White keys R happy moments and
    Black keys are sad moments.
    But remember both keys are played together to give
    Sweet music in life…

    Let’s we play piano together….
    keep writing..and I’ll treasure it……

    • salam,

      red ..where did you get those quotes?…luv it sooo muchh..and if im not mistaken you r also the one who share poem on love …don’t remember the name ..at NK forum at tv3 dulu…i read it once and it stuck in my heart..but dont know where to find it n i forgot to keep it…

      actually..i prefer to call it ‘wave’ rather than ‘tsunami’ for Maher and Nur Kasih n long time ago Raihan. Tsunami is always associated with -ve but wave most of the time +ve..Remember last time we talked on why we hooked to NK..for me it’s all bcoz of heart..it comes from their heart and it touched our heart. Those who involved in NK maybe do it with all their heart n with ‘niat’ to teach us on patience, sacrifices, respect and love ..n the same goes with Maher Zain. His music touched our heart.

      and for me..NK and MZ..fills the gaps that have not been filled for a very long time. Whether we realize it or not..we longed for drama or music or art that can heal or soul..that can teach us something..that relevant to us ..that can potray the right way of life.

      In this chaotic world with issues like zaman jahiliah..pembuangan bayi..free sex.. negative lifestyle…we need informal medium like drama and music to make us realize…where is our roots and belief…it relates with ‘agama’ ..n for us it’s islamic way of life…

      good day frens…

      • Wa-salam Sup

        Thanks for sharing the thoughts..really appreciate it and because of that I have you as a friend and a genuine friend. Thank you and have a pleasant day with good weekend.

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