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The Sound of Silence: Daqu ("big-suite") and Medieval Chinese Performance


My dissertation investigates Chinese medieval daqu("big suite"), a performance consisting of a succession of musical sections that combines song lyrics with instrumental accompaniment, and includes solo or ensemble dance movements. As one of the major components of court music, the lyrics of daqu provide a valuable window into the often submerged link between text and performance. My dissertation focuses on how the performance texts be taken as a linguistic matrix in which the fossilized remains of performance are preserved and revealed to memory. The first chapter examines the relationship between dance, dance lyrics and performance context. The second chapter provides a general introduction on daqu, from that of the Wei and Jin to the Tang and Song. The third chapter takes daqu compositions by Shi Hao (1106-1194) of the Southern Song as central texts, discussing several issues such as "musical words (yueyu)," medieval court performance, intertextualization and performance context, "roaming transcendents (youxian)" tradition and court performance. In the appendix is an annotated translation on Shi Hao's seven daqu pieces.

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