Instrumental 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

Instrumental music refers to the Daoist tunes played with musical instruments or Magical Instruments (法器 faqi). The tunes are mainly used in memorial rituals and Fasts and Offerings (齋醮 zhaijiao) rituals. In these two categories of rituals, the Daoist Ritual Masters (法師 fashi) use Occult Techniques (法門 famen) including not only scripture recitation and intoning all kinds of Tones for Chanting (韻腔 yunqiang), but also drawing talismans, muttering incantations, walking Steps of Yu (禹步 yubu), and Making Finger Gestures (掐訣 qiajue). The tunes of instrumental music are thus played to coordinate with the different ritual actions the Daoist Masters perform, such as riding the clouds and mounting the mist, summoning wind and rain, Pacing the Big Dipper (踏罡步斗 tagang budou), and vanquishing goblins and demons.

Music Tune Names of Musical Instruments

According to the occasions in different sectors of rituals where they are played, the tunes played by various musical instruments in Daoist music can be classified into the following forms: first is the playing of instrumental music tunes, which are mostly used before the ritual of Fasts and Offerings1 to attract the people to the fasts and extend the impetus; second, the playing of interlude music. The second form consists of two cases ----- playing the interlude music during the interval between two Tones for Chanting while chanting the scriptures, and playing it to mark the transformation of procedures in rituals. Some of the tunes are especially used for Daoist music, such as the Mubenjing, Baihefei and Lugangdiao, while some others such as Xiaokaimen and Jiangjunling can also be found in some traditional operas, folk art forms and local music. However, once these popular tunes become part of Daoist music, combine with the sound of bells, drums, and other Magical Instruments3 and reverberate inside and outside the temples, they become unworldly and free from vulgarity and present a distinct appeal of sublime immortal music.

Classification of Instrumental Music

The instrumental music is classified into Solemn Tunes (正曲 zhengqu), Lively Tunes (耍曲 shuaqu) and Tunes for Ritual Implements (法器牌子 faqi paizi).

Solemn 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

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.

Tunes for Ritual Implements

Though not large in number, Tunes for Ritual Implements play a very important role in Daoist music. When singing Tones for Chanting, the accompanying instruments such as silk strings or pipes can sometimes be omitted, but Magical Instruments are indispensable. The ritual implement tunes are classified into Tunes for Cymbals (鐃鑔牌子 naocha paizi) and Tunes for Pans (鐺鑔牌子 chengcha paizi). The magical instruments for playing the tunes for cymbals include the danao, xiaonao, dacha (big or small cymbals), big and small Wood Blocks (木魚 muyu), big and small drums, and big and small Inverted Bells (磬 qing); those for playing tunes for pans include small cymbals, pans, hand bells as well as big and small wood blocks, big and small drums, and big and small inverted bells. The tunes for cymbals are usually played alone to mark the change or the connection of different ritual procedures, and are also used as introductory music, coda or intermezzo in the singing or playing of all kinds of tones for chanting and instrumental music tunes. The tunes for pans, on the other hand, are often used as an accompaniment for tones for chanting or instrumental music tunes, playing the function of beating the time and setting off the religious atmosphere.