Peking Opera Percussion Workshop


Peking opera percussion instruments




Peking Opera Percussion 

Peking opera (Beijing Opera) percussion music, also known as Jingju Luogu, is a small percussion ensemble with five core percussive instruments, danpigu (single-skinned drum), ban (clappers), xiaoluo (small gong), naobo (a pair of cymbals), and daluo (big gong), played by four musicians. Gulao, the danpigu player who also plays the ban, is the leader of the ensemble. Some other percussion instruments, such as double-sided drums and bells, may be included based on specific musical and theatrical needs. 

Peking opera percussion is a pattern-based music, which means the musicians need to learn and memorize a number of percussion patterns (about 200 patterns commonly used in Peking opera) and play their basic, combination, and variation forms following the direction of the drummer. When learning the patterns, Peking opera musicians practice a special type of "oral notation" named luogujing, an onomatopoeic system that uses verbal syllables to represent different percussion sounds, dynamics, play techniques, as well as instrumentation. This system has been developed by the Peking opera artists (both musicians and actors) not only as a performance aid to substitute real percussion for rehearsals and informal performance, but also as a special kind of "language" that can be used for daily conversation.

The Workshop

Workshops for Peking opera percussion arrange from 45 minutes to 3 hours. Ideally, group size can be from 7 to 30 people, depending on how much hands-on practice is expected. The workshop can be either theoretical or performance oriented, or have different balancing plan, such as 2/3 introducing the concepts and foundations, and 1/3 hands-on practice. Age requirement is pretty flexible (greater then 6-year old, though), as anyone who can play percussion will be good for join the workshop.

A typical workshop will begin with an introduction to the formation, composition, and main concepts of the music, then spending some time to learn how to recite the oral notation and memorize one or two patterns. Participants will be asked to recite the luogujing patterns while using their hands to make sounds and imitate the percussion patterns (e.g. clap hands, hit the desk, etc.). The final part will be getting the instruments and practicing some patterns.

The workshop is designed to provide a fun, exciting, hands-on as well as inspiring experience, as it brings participants different perspectives of organizing musical sounds and expressing music ideas and beyond.

For more information, please contact me 

Other Workshops: Peking Opera Workshop; Chinese Music Workshop; and Chinese Music Ensemble