Xinjiang celebrates the song and dance of several different ethnic groups including Uyghur, Kazak, Mongolian, Xibo, Uzbek, Kirgiz, Tartar, and Modohu. These groups bring a rich and dramatic performance culture with distinct songs and traditional folk dances that are unlike anywhere else in the world. The actors and actresses are all incredible looking in their luxurious costumes, dancing to passionate music. It is known throughout Eastern China that Uyghur people love to sing and dance, and once visiting the Xinjiang region one can see many performance troupes, gatherings, and weddings that have musical and dance performances.
Twelve Muqam is a cultural legacy of the Uyghur musical tradition. It was developed over one and a half millennia ago,and finds it’s beginnings in the Arabic ‘Maqam’ melody system. It was created by an imperial concubine of the Yarkant Kingdom in the 16th century, and with the help of other musicians she travelled throughout different parts of Xinjiang to put together 12 compositions to carry forward and integrate many different Uyghur musical styles. The entire Muqam takes over 20 hours to perform. The “Twelve Muqam” is an epic narrative whose performance includes classical and folkloric song, music, and dance. It was designated by UNESCO as part of the Oral and Intangible Heritabe of Humanity.
Clik on the following link to enjoy part of Twelve Muqam:
Another kind of Uygur music is called "Sanam," or "beauty," which involves singing and dancing to a group consisting of between seven to a dozen pieces of song-and-dance music. The music begins slowly and steadily, then picks up speed, and finally culminates in a climax of merry music and exuberant dances.
"Kuxak," "Eytixish," and "Maida" are spoken songs, which are common among the Uygur people. Accompanied by simple tunes, the speaker will talk his way through a song, usually about the love between a man and a woman. These songs can also be performed by two people.
Uygur music is accompanied by a variety of instruments. Back in the Sui (581-618) and Tang (618-907) dynasties, the five-stringed pipa(a plucked string instrument with a fretted fingerboard) and konghou(harp, an ancient plucked stringed instrument) were popular in Qiuci and other areas. They arrived in the Central Plains along with music from the Western Region. The present Uygur music developed from ancient musical instruments from the Western Region as well as modern Chinese and foreign instruments; it includes dozens of stringed, wind and percussion instruments.
Click here for some of the most typical Uygur folklore music
Back to Top >>