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The events of Chinese New Year are underway. While the year of the rabbit was put to rest, 2012 welcomes a more powerful character in Chinese astrology: the dragon. KSMU’s Matthew Barnes reports.
The Chinese New Year is a time for family unity and ritual, during which the bellows of musical celebration resonate through the streets. John Prescott is a professor of world music at Missouri State and plays the hulusi, a traditional Chinese wind instrument.
“It’s sort of a gourd flute. It’s a bamboo flute with a gourd on the top and a double reed inside. So that the air resonates in the gourd and then vibrates the double reed to produce the characteristic tone,” says Prescott.
The title of the song Prescott plays roughly translates to “Bamboo Fern Leaf Hedge in the Midnight”. As the story of the song goes, a young man uses his hulusi to woo a young woman by playing under her window, but to no avail. Her window stays closed.
“The Yao people are credited for having developed this instrument. But it’s become ubiquitous all over China. Everywhere you go you can find hulusi now. It’s become very popular,” says Prescott.
When accompanied by a large drum and cymbals, Prescott, along with a few volunteers, play the dance of the Yao people…. A festive tune more fitting for celebrations, such as Chinese New Year.
[Nats: dance of Yao people]
This New Year brings more cause for celebration than others .According to Weirong Schaefer, Coordinator for Ancient Arts and Letters at MSU, this spring festival brings in the year of the dragon. It’s considered to be a year of prosperity.
“Dragon actually has a lot to do with Chinese culture. And the Chinese people really think that we are the descendants of dragons,” says Schaefer.
This year specifically brings in the year of the earth dragon, whose gold and red colors represent wealth and happiness, according to Schaefer.
“The dragon year is supposed to bring lots of energy and lots of change. And hopefully this dragon year will bring a good economy back to the United States,” says Schaefer.
For KSMU News. I’m Matthew Barnes.