CCF 2024: Lecture Series: Exploring the Roots of Local Music in silk-and-bamboo, wind-and-percussion

CCF 2024: Lecture Series: Exploring the Roots of Local Music in silk-and-bamboo, wind-and-percussion

Sizhu means ‘silk and bamboo’, or by extension, ‘strings and winds’ in Chinese.


It is a term frequently used in ancient Chinese poetry and prose to refer to music, describing a sophisticated way to gather like-minded friends for leisurely self-entertainment and expression of emotions. Verses from a poem Shui Diao Ge Tou (Water Song) by the Song Dynasty poet, Su Dongpo (1037 - 1101), say, 'Parting with middle-aged friends and relatives is hard, but sizhu eases the sorrow.'  Furthermore, sizhu was often used to accompany singing and dancing to entertain guests, as seen in another Song poem, Yu Mei Ren by Wang Anshi (1021 – 1086), 'Sizhu accentuates the slow song and dance.' Throughout history, sizhu music has played a significant role in entertaining the general public and creating harmonious societies.

Chuida means ‘wind and percussion’. It originated from ancient military music and has been used in customary folk celebrations, festivals, weddings, and funerals. Their significance in traditional ceremonies has long been established.

Sizhu is associated with the civil category of music, and chuida, the militaristic. Sizhu is of equal importance with chuida. Musical instruments of both categories have been employed on the traditional theatre stage for a long time.

As traditional Chinese music forms, 'silk-and-bamboo' represents the sentimental music expression while 'wind-and-percussion' represents the strong and celebrative expression in the Chinese instrumental music tradition. Hong Kong has always been considered a melting pot of talents from China’s north and south. During the pre-war era, Cantonese Opera virtuosi and music maestros from Guangdong based themselves in Hong Kong and made their living composing tunes, cutting records and publishing music scores. After the war, a large number of well-known musicians relocated to Hong Kong. They became a thriving work force in scoring for films, composition of songs and teaching, thus enriching the local sizhu soundscape. These sounds have endured over the years and formed the foundation for the subsequent popularization of Chinese music. Its longstanding tolerance for both new and old, and its liberal attitude are precisely the qualities that underly the unique attraction of Hong Kong.

This programme is honoured to have the support of many veteran speakers from different sectors to share their insights on the origin, dissemination and development of traditional Chinese music in Hong Kong.


  • Speakers: Ho Kang-ming, Chan Chi-chun


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