Classification and Forms of Daoist Music

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Daoist Music
Classification and Forms of Daoist Music
Vocal Music
Instrumental Music
Musical Instruments
Schools of Daoist Music
Music of the Orthodox Oneness Tradition
Music of the Complete Perfection Tradition
Compilations of Daoist Music Scores
The Ritual of Jade Tunes
The Daoist Musical Scores Composed by Imperial Order during the Great Ming Dynasty
The Orthodox Rhythm of the Complete Perfection Tradition
Daoist Music of Different Places
The White Cloud Temple, Beijing Suzhou Mt Longhu
Mt Wudang Mt Mao Shanghai
Mt Lao Shanxi Plain Sichuan
The Northeast Taiwan Hong Kong

Traditionally, Daoist music is classified into vocal music sung or recited by the human voice and instrumental music performed with musical instruments and Magical Instruments (法器) . Daoism has its own habitual appellations for the above two forms, namely "yun", "yunqing", or "yunzi" (tone) for vocal music and "qupai" or "paizi" (tune) for instrumental music. Further, according to different occasions and recipients, "Tones for Chanting (韻腔)" are classified into "Yin Tones(陰韻)" and "Yang Tones(陽韻)", and "tunes" are classified into "Solemn Tunes(正曲)" and "Lively Tunes(耍曲)".

Vocal Music

The Tones for Chanting

The tones for chanting take the forms of solo and unison, and have the styles of "Eulogy (頌 song)", "Ode (贊 zan)", "Pacing the Void (步虛 buxu)" and "Hymn (偈 ji)". When the styles are used singly, the tone is a four-line song in a brief coupled structure or representing the introduction, elucidation, transition and summing up. If a tone is set with several passages of different scriptures, a more complicated large-scale tune can be structured. The tone can be combined in various ways with Chanting the Holy Scriptures (誦經 songjing) with and without accompaniment and Steps of Yu (禹步 yubu), and according to the requirement of ritual affairs, connect all sorts of Daoist tunes of eulogy, ode, pacing the void and hymn to form a vocal music method that changes from time to again, yet remains much the same.

Yin Tone and Yang Tone

The Yin Tone refers to the Tone for Chanting used in rituals performed at the outer altar. They are mostly chanted in rituals held outdoors or at the home of fasting clients, such as "relieving the people" and "Feeding the Hungry Ghosts(放施食(放焰口)) ". Its major audiences include believers and ordinary people watching the rituals.

The Yang Tone is the Tone for Chanting used in sacrificial rituals performed at the inner altar. It is generally chanted in the halls of temples, and its major recipients are practical Daoist priests, heavenly and earthly spirits, and divinities of all the realms.

Instrumental Music

Musical Instruments

As for the musical instruments used in instrumental music, they vary among different temples and schools. Those used by the Orthodox Oneness Tradition (正一道 zhengyi dao) are rich and complete in kinds, including the wind instruments, stringed instruments, plucked instruments and percussion instruments, and the playing skill is fairly superb. The Complete Perfection Tradition (全真道 quanzhen dao) mainly uses percussion instruments (magical instruments) and some temples use a few orchestral music instruments as well. The music is played in a rather simplistic way. It is mainly used for heightening the atmosphere of the Ritual Space (道場 daochang) and accompanying the recitation of scriptures.

Solemn Tunes and Lively Tunes

Solemn Tunes are instrumental music played by musical instruments or Magical Instruments . They are usually played when circling the altar in the course of the Ritual of Praying for Luck and Peace Performed at the Inner Altar (祈福齋醮科儀) and the Ritual of Saving the Souls of the Dead Performed at the Outer Altar (薦亡齋醮科儀) .

Lively Tunes are formed and evolved by assimilating folk music. They are mainly used for the rituals held for the common people and played before opening the altar and after closing the altar. They have a strong entertaining nature.