Every Dong can sing
The Dong people are all good at singing. The Dong communities are known as "an ocean of songs". Dong songs have rhyme, graceful melody and beautiful lyrics of profound meaning. It is divided into many categories according to content and situation. There are etiquette-and-custom songs, hall-treading songs, wine songs, and love songs.
Etiquette-and-custom songs are usually sung in public, like way-breaking songs and way-blocking songs, generally led by an accentor, with double tones in the female group. Lyrics are traditional or improvised. Hall-treading songs are mainly sung at festivals, including hall-entering songs, Sasui songs, amusing songs, parent songs, elopement songs, etc. At festivals and feasts to greet guests, the host and the guest often sing wine songs antiphonally. First is an opening song in a question-and-answer manner; then girls sing toast songs; in the middle of the dinner, the two groups ask and answer in songs, and those who cannot answer should drink. After the dinner, guests sing thanks songs. Love songs are mostly sung by a single person. When young people gather in the "moon hall" or working on the hillside, they sing love song to exchange feelings and to further understand each other. Love songs are rich in content, free in rhythm, bold and unstrained in expression of sensations. These songs are often short, sweet, harmonious, graceful and melodious. Way-blocking songs, hall-treading songs and wine songs are also free in rhythm, frank and hearty in singing. Sometimes they are passionate and powerful, while sometimes light and gentle.
Grand songs, "Galao" in Dong, are the most representative public chorus of the Dong people, and popular mainly in Liping, Rongjiang, Congjiang of Guizhou Province, and Sanjiang in Guangxi Province. Grand songs have various types, mainly: the narrative style, mainly about story plots and persona dialogues; the lyric style, mainly about love between the two genders; morality style, mainly about religious and morality expostulations; and vocality style, mainly showing the beauty of musical melody; and also the etiquette-and-custom grand song, the drum-tower grand song and the local opera grand song. According to different singers, there are male voice grand song, female voice grand song and child's voice grand song. It is performed by well-trained chorus. A traditional chorus is made up of one family. The formal performing place of grand song is the drum-tower; usually the host group would invite visiting guests to sing in the antiphonal style. But it should be between groups of different genders, and song groups of the same gender cannot invite each other to sing. The sing style of grand song includes solo and chorus. The chorus is made up of multiple voice parts: alt, mediant and bass or only alt and bass. Bass is the main component. While performing, the bass lasts for a long time, lingering like loquacious murmuring of the brook; the solo of alt is free to express itself, imitating hundreds of birds twittering at the same time. Grand songs are harmonious and prefect, with graceful melody and free rhythm, quick or slow accordingly; sometimes, they are calm and fluent, full of sentiments, sometimes smart and bold, full of grand might, and sometimes sweetly and clearly broad, echoing and attractive.
The natural, graceful and plain grand song truthfully represents The Dong people's love for life, nature and their hometown, and is a vivid portraiture of their nation's character: honesty, warm-heartedness, sincerity and compassion.
From Sept. 28th to Oct. 12, 1986, a Dong chorus gave performances at the famous Sharles Palace Theatre in Paris. The chorus consisted of 9 girls from Dong country of Southeast Qian Autonomous Prefecture of Miao and Dong Ethnic Minority Groups, Guizhou Province. Like a flower of the national music, the Dong grand song glowed brightly in the city of art and gave the French audience a great surprise, with its elegant, simple and unsophisticated rhythm and harmonious tone. President of the Art Festival Michel (former culture minister of France) appraised the Dong song as "music shining as the clean fountain, which is quite rare in the world." From July 26th to Sep. 6th, 1988, the same chorus was invited to the World Folk Art and Culture Conference, in which 90 countries took part. They performed in 40 cities in Italy and other 7 West European countries, which made the chorus art of The Dong people known overseas and won the favor of people all over the world.
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