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Suzhou Pingtan

Updated: 2013-01-10 10:39

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Suzhou Pingtan, a general term which includes 'Pinghua' -- storytelling without music -- and 'Tanci' -- singing in the local dialect -- originated in Suzhou city of Jiangsu province 400 years ago and is performed in the Suzhou dialect. It was listed as China's intangible cultural heritage by the Ministry of Culture of China in 2006.

'Pingtan' is known for its story telling, joke telling, music playing and aria singing. For 'Pinghua', there is normally only one narrator who holds a fan and a piece of wood while telling stories. 'Tanci' is mostly performed by two singing narrators, accompanied by two traditional Chinese string instruments called “Sanxian” and “Pipa”.

Pingtan artists usually perform long heroic and epic stories composed of several chapters. One chapter is performed for several hours in a day and the whole story may last for weeks. There are also stories of medium and shorter lengths as well. Besides traditional story themes, 'Pingtan' artists are continuously writing new ideas that are closer to contemporary life.

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