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Xi’an wind and percussion ensemble

Updated: 2014-12-10 13:25:43

( Chinaculture.org )

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In 2009, The Xi’an wind and percussion ensemble was inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the UNESCO.


Xi’an wind and percussion ensemble, which has been played for more than a millennium in China’s ancient capital of Xi’an, in Shaanxi Province, is a type of music integrating drums and wind instruments, sometimes with a male chorus. The content of the verses is mostly related to local life and religious belief and the music is mainly played on religious occasions such as temple fairs or funerals. The music can be divided into two categories, ‘sitting music’ and ‘walking music’, with the latter also including the singing of the chorus. Marching drum music used to be performed on the emperor’s trips, but has now become the province of farmers and is played only in open fields in the countryside. The drum music band is composed of thirty to fifty members, including peasants, teachers, retired workers, students and others. The music has been transmitted from generation to generation through a strict master-apprentice mechanism. Scores of the music are recorded using an ancient notation system dating from the Tang and Song dynasties (seventh to thirteenth centuries). Approximately three thousand musical pieces are documented and about one hundred fifty volumes of handwritten scores are preserved and still in use.


Nomination form: English|French

Consent of communities: English

Decision 4.COM 13.26

The Committee (…) decides that [this element] satisfies the criteria for inscription on the Representative List, as follows:

R1: The tradition of the Xi’an wind and percussion ensemble constitutes a living cultural practice and art form that is part of the identity of the communities of Xi’an City and surrounding districts;

R2: Its inscription on the Representative List would contribute to ensuring recognition of and respect for intangible cultural heritage as well as stimulating dialogue on this kind of music and enhancing cultural diversity within China and beyond;

R3: The nomination presents measures to safeguard this tradition, including the provision of funds for the maintenance of instruments, the documentation of practitioners, and the collection of musical scores;

R4: In the preparation of the nomination file, the community participated at every stage and has given its free, prior and informed consent in the form of written certifications signed by each of the six active musicians’ associations;

R5: The element is inscribed on the National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage administered by the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Culture.


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