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Suzhou Pingtan


Suzhou Pingtan (苏州评弹) is a general term for Pinghua (评话) and Tanci (弹词). Pingtan has traditionally been popular in Jiangsu and Zhejiang Provinces and Shanghai City, but always sung in Suzhou dialect. The history of this art form traces back to the reign of Qianlong Emperor (1711 – 1799) of the Qing Dynasty. The most famous singer of that time was Wang Zhoushi (王周士), who had performed for the emperor. In later times, Pingtan masters came out many in Suzhou. Today this art form is still quite popular locally. 


Suzhou Pingtan Suzhou Pingtan
















Pinghua is often performed by one person only. The content is mostly about Chinese history and legendary heroes. While Tanci is by two people, one plays sanxian which is an ancient Chinese musical instrument, and the other plays pipa (Chinese lute), they sing and speak together while they are playing their own instruments. They mostly tell love stories and folk legends. Suzhou Pingtan emphasizes performance in details, with subtle but eye-catching expressions and gestures. Sometimes it will have some comedy ingredients added. Rhythmic cadence, gently slow and melodic pipa playing make Pingtan good to listen. After a few generations of innovation and development, Pingtan derives a variety of genres and styles. In the past forty years, new Pingtan works have been introduced and the old ones have also been compiled and renewed. Some new works reflect people's daily lives have emerged and stories for short and middle-length performance have been improved.



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