Yizhou Yugu Tunes

(chinadaily.com.cn)

Updated: 2020-07-27

Yugu (literally fishing drum) tunes are one of the ancient folk arts in China, and can be traced back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907) when they mainly sang religious content.

By the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, Yugu tunes had formed a complete singing system, and its singing content had changed to incorporate folk tales, myths and legends, as well as stories of heroes.

Yugu tunes are mainly popular in the provinces of Hunan, Anhui, Henan, Guangdong, Jiangxi, and Zhejiang, as well as Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

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A splendid performance of Yizhou Yugu tunes is staged at the 10th Liusanjie Cultural Tourism Festival, which was held in Yizhou district of Hechi, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region from Oct 8 to Nov 30, 2019. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Guangxi Yugu tunes can be divided into three schools, namely Yizhou Yugu, Quanzhou Yugu, and Guiliu Yugu, which are popular in Hechi, Guilin, and Liuzhou.

Yizhou Yugu tunes are a talking-singing art performed in a dialect, which was developed from the integration of the local operas and folk songs.

It can be sung solo or in groups, with no traditional instrumental accompaniment. Dishes, cups, and chopsticks are the most common props of Yizhou Yugu performances.

After continuous innovation, the traditional Yizhou Yugu tunes have been developed into modern ones, which expanded the voice register on the original basis and changed the melody in some places, making it livelier and more expressive.

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Wei Shanguang is a third generation successor of Yizhou Yugu tunes, as well as an inheritor at the autonomous region level. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Yizhou Yugu tunes have been one of the most important components of Yizhou's folk culture. It was listed among the intangible cultural heritages at the autonomous region level in May 2012.

To strengthen the protection and inheritance of Yizhou Yugu tunes, the district government of Yizhou has released a batch of measures in recent years. It founded the special protection office in the district's Liusanjie Cultural Inheritance Center, and set up special funds for the art.