Phase 1: Posing Real Questions

Updated 5 years 9 months ago

Before researching, I barely knew anything about Bai Minority Music or Chinese music in general. Music is really important to me, which is the reason why I chose this topic. Based on my own knowledge, I believe that Bai Music is mainly folk songs that tell stories about the Bai Culture. Possibly describing legends and common myths that are told to children. Mr. T has briefly informed me about a local musician group that does perform in the town. I have very little knowledge about main Chinese instruments, such as the er hu, pi pa, etc. I'm guessing that Chinese music is made of different cultural and religious music. I have been to many little music shops scattered around China and spend time with my grandfather singing and watching TV Specials.

In general, I would love to learn about instruments, folk songs, and tradition in general. I am very curious about how music has a mental and social impact on people's lives. I want to see instruments being made, the process of song writing, and what traditions each family keeps. I looked at Ying Yang's research (the Cookie Monsters) and he talked about the history of Bai Music. I want to see and feel the music from a local's perspective, not just memorizing the history. What inspires the pieces? I want to know how important music is and why they chose to love it. 

Building background knowledge is in Phase 3. Click here for some general knowledge on Bai Music and Chinese music in general.

After spending a lot of time researching, these are the main questions that outline my project. Possible answers are in italics.

Big Questions:

1. What is the structure of traditional Bai Minority Folk music?

According to some previous research, it seems that tradition Bai folk music is written in a 7, 5, 7, word per line form. Also the rhythm seems to repeat itself.

2. What qualifies as a folk song?

Folk songs, I believe, have to tell a story or symbolize something. 

3. What stories or symbols do these songs represent?

Some of these pieces could represent stories about old Chinese myths or something more symbolic, like the sun.

4. What other genres of music has influenced Bai Minority Folk music?

I have heard of Dongjing (cave temple) music. Also, an article that I read mentioned that some cultures influenced this music.

5. What instruments are played?

I know that some traditional Chinese instruments are the er hu, pi pa, flute, etc.

6. How are these instruments made?

Some of these instruments could be handmade, or manufactured by a company.

7. What types of music is played at festivals and why?

Some typical Chinese festivals are Chinese New Year, Lunar Festival, Dragon Boat Festival, etc. There are most likely music for each of these festivals.

8. What are some traditions relating to music?

There could be a tradition where all female generations of a family needs to learn the pi pa or something like that.

9. What is the history of Bai Minority Music?

Bai Minority Music could have started in the Tang Dynasty or was brought to Yunnan by a different culture. Then there might have been a tradition where a certain folk song was sung to each generation.

10. What impact does music have on the locals lives?

Music could have changed people's lives. I know that there are local musicians there and hope to interview them about this question. 

After reviewing my work, I believe that I need to know more before I talk to the locals. I need to dig deeper into the history of Bai Music to get a clear understanding of where this style of music comes from. I already know the general information, but I do not know about music in the village. That, I believe, is the main part of my project. Music in the village. To get there, I first need to get a clear understanding of the history and style of Bai Music. I would first like to contact a person who has interacted with Yunnan locals. Somebody who has seen the music and action. I want to ask them about their research and how they think music impacts the locals' lives. I know that Ying Yang (alumni) has already contacted Dr. Rees from UCLA. I will look into Dr. Ree's work and hope to find someone who will help me answer my questions.

Click here to see Ying Yang's research about Bai Minority Music.

Date and Time of Meeting with Mr. T: September 8th, 2013, 8:10pm-8:28pm
Dropped Questions:

After going out and about in the village, I have either answered one of my 10 questions, or have decided to change directions. Below are the questions that I have decided to drop and why.

What is the history of Bai Minority Music? 

I dropped this question because it is a very broad question that does not direct me towards my main point of focus. I want to focus more on the impact music has on people's lives, and how tourism has affected music and people's lives. I will replace this question.

What other genres of music has influenced Bai Minority Music?

I dropped this question because it doesn't really help find answers to my main point of focus. I already know that Bai Music is a mix of many religons and countries' music, but I do not feel that it is essential to know the exact ones. I will replace this question.

How are these instruments made?

I dropped this question because I already know that instruments are either hand-made or machine made. Also, it is not a question that will help me with my final product. 

New Questions

After dropping some questions, I now need to replace those questions with ones that will guide me down the right path.

How does tourism affect music and the musicians' lives?

I chose this questions beacuse after going out in the village to do some research, I realized that tourism has made quite a big impact on music, dance, and performing. I want to know the exact details, and find out the main source of tourism.

Has music ever caused trouble for a local?

Mr. T has already mentioned about some stories that people could tell me about how music became a great burden to some people's lives around the Cultural Revolution. I think that this question related to the impact that music has had on people's lives. I really am curious about this time period and want to find some people that can tell me in more detail about their own experiences. 

How has music evolved over time?

I want to know the changes music has gone through. If any historical event has effected these changes. It will help me move forward in the right direction. 

Hi! My name is Rebecca and I am 14 years old. I was born in Bloomington, Indiana, and have lived in Connecticut and now, China. This will be my 3rd year at SAS. I am back in Shanghai and was very excited to be part of the September-October Microcampus trip! Xizhou is an incredible place with friendly locals and breath-taking scenery. I wish lots of fun to future groups and hope you enjoy this journey as much as I did.