Opera, which originated in the late 18th century, is a synthesis of music, dance, art and acrobatics. It is the most
influential and representative of all operas in China.
Peking Opera can be divided into "civil"
pieces characterized by singing, and "martial" ones featuring
acrobatics and stunts. Some operas are a combination of both.
The operatic dialogues and monologues are recited in Beijing dialect,
and some of the words are pronounced in a special fashion, unique to the
Peking Opera has "chang"(singing),"nian"(dialogue),"zuo"(acting)and
"da"(martial arts) as its basic performing forms."chang"
is mainly performed in the tunes of "xipi"(used for expressing
strong emotions) and "erhuang"(used for expressing deep and
sorrowful feelings)."Nian" is mainly done in the tones of "yun
bai" and "jing bai"."Zuo" means the body movements
(dancing and acting) of the actor or actress."Da" is the martial
art with acrobatic actions.
The music of Peking opera is that of the "plate and cavity style".Its melody with harmonious rhythms is graceful and pleasing to the ears.
The melody may be classified into two groups: "Xipi" and "erhong",
guiding pattern, original pattern, slow pattern, quick pattern, desultory
pattern being their chief patterns. The performance is accompanied by
a tune played on wind instruments, percussion instruments and stringed
instruments, the chief musical instruments being jinghu (a two-stringed
bowed instrument with a high register), yueqin( a four-stringed plucked
instrument with a full-moon-shaped sound box), Sanxian( a three-stringed
plucked instrument), suona horn, flute drum, big-gong, cymbals, small-gong,