Story Song of She People
The Story Song, a kind of song based on long stories, is a unique folk art the She ethnic people have created.
The Story Song originated in Bailukeng Village, Hounan Town, Xiafu County, Fujian Province, where the She ethnic people are most densely populated and the ethnic culture has deep roots. The song was prevalent during theQing Dynasty(1644-1911). In the beginning, some She ethnic singers adopted chapter stories and the story-telling lyrics of the Han Chinese into their own songs. Later, on the basis of the popular heroic stories of She people, the story song was formed with such lists as, Gaohuang Song, Liqi Song, Zhong Liangbi, The Story of White Snake, Ten Sages Song, Zhong Jingqi茂录艗and Lan TianJade.
The subjects are mainly adopted from stories in Chinese folk opera andQuyi. There are many characteristics of this art form that are strongly related to poetry. It is highly narrative with plots, it has a tight structure with every chapter made up of many solos which include four lines and seven words in each line; , it uses many artistic skills to make the characters and last but not least, the authors" signatures are skillfully hidden in the end of the song.
The Story Song reached its climax during the late Qing dynasty and the early Republic of China (1912-1949). Today, 130 hand written copies and oral songbooks remain. Zhong Changrao, the descendent of the king of the Story Song, has collected over 160 passages with more than one million words in lyrics, and edited over 500 ethnic songs including Story Songs. But Zhong is now 73 years old, and needs someone to carry on this art. The truth is, the practitioners are on the decrease and Story Song writing has practically stopped. Urgent measures shall be taken to rescue the disappearing art.