CONTACT US Wed Nov. 13, 2013

CASS 中国社会科学网(中文) Français


Musical culture impacted poetic creations in Tang’s heyday

Author  :  HUANG DAOYU     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2021-11-14

The Musical Culture and Poetry in the Heyday of the Tang Dynasty

The Musical Culture and Poetry in the Heyday of the Tang Dynasty, authored by Bai Hongxiu, a professor from the School of Journalism and Communication at Yangzhou University, proceeds from the musical culture and the evolutionary process of poetry in the Tang Dynasty (618–907), showing the deep-seated influence of the musical culture on the poetic creation, content, and style during the heyday of the Tang Dynasty.

In the flourishing period of the Tang Dynasty, the development pattern—the court music becoming open and the folk music turning active—left a prominent mark on poem creators. First, the group composing the melody and lyrics for ceremonial music became simpler, and Emperor Xuanzong (r. 713–741) was no longer involved. Although Prime Minister Zhang Yue and music officials were still involved in the process, not many innovative results were yielded. However, conservative works, due to the inconvenience of performance and practice, were not taken seriously by musicians at the time.

In terms of folk music, the lyrics creation team was more diversely composed, including not only members of the imperial family but also court officials and literati. In addition, literati in the prime of the Tang Dynasty were more engaged in the creation and adaptation of lyrics, such as Yuan Dexiu, Wang Wei, and Li Bai.

The trend of the music heading from the palace to the folk in the prosperous Tang Dynasty drove the prosperity of banquet music. Whether or not poems were turned into lyrics and sung at banquets became a new standard to evaluate the artistic level of poetry. In the prosperous Tang era, the active participation of scholars propelled the thriving of poetry, especially the creation of musical poems, bringing forth changes in the content of musical poems at the time.

First of all, poets in the Tang’s heyday paid more attention to folk music activities, increasing their descriptions of southern music and the music of minority ethnic groups. Second, poems describing musicians became an extremely eye-catching part of music poems at the time, which mainly depict folk musicians in various places. Such poems not only portray the musical activities of folk musicians, but also involve their daily lives and spiritual temperament, by means of more diverse artistic techniques detailing their motion and looks during the performance, the overall process, and performance effects. Furthermore, poems about musical instruments, beyond the traditional musical instrument—Qin, added more descriptions of Pipa and Zheng. In addition, related writing multiplied the aesthetic styles of folk music, with more specific and richer content. For example, sorrowful descriptions express feelings of gloom, resentment, lament, and bitterness.


Huang Daoyu is from the College of Humanities at Yangzhou University.

Editor: Yu Hui

>> View All

Fei Xiaotong provides insights into Chinese society

Fei Xiaotong (1910–2005) was one of the foremost Chinese sociologists and anthropologists, noted for his studies of ...

>> View All