Chinese New Year Music

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The Chinese New Year celebration is the most important holiday in the country.

China has an ancestral culture when it comes to music and this is reflected in the music to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

Within the Chinese New Year music we can find different variants.

Because normally, the end of the year is marked by festivals and parades, music plays a leading role.

We have to differentiate several music for the Chinese New Year:

  • Traditional Chinese instrumental music
  • Chinese dragon dance music
  • Chinese Lion Dance Music

Musical instruments

Chinese New Year’s music has a very marked rhythmic character, that’s why many times this music is played only with percussion instruments, like:

  • Big drums, Japanese taikos type
  • Chinese cymbals, gons

These musical instruments are mainly used in the dance of the dragon and the Chinese lion.
Other instruments like the harp, bamboo flute, strings are also used, without forgetting the more traditional instruments like, the pipe, erhu, ruan.

These are the main music that are used to celebrate the Chinese New Year, whose calendar and old year or end of year, differs quite a bit from the Western calendar.

We will now try to explain this by delving into Chinese culture

The Chinese Calendar

In addition to the foundations that we have seen, which gave content to Chinese Astrology, a support was needed on which to shape it. This was achieved with the creation of the lunar calendar and the way they divided time.

Currently in China, the solar and lunar calendars coexist. The solar (Gregorian) calendar is the official one, established in 1911, but it is the lunar calendar that governs the traditional festivals (Spring or New Year’s Festival, Moon Festival, Lantern Festival, May Festival), popular customs, especially in rural areas, and agricultural tasks.

This calendar consists of 12 months of 29 and a half days each. That is why the year has 6 months of 29 days and another 6 of 30. In total, the lunar calendar has 10, 11 or even 12 days less than the solar one and for both to coincide an extra month must be added every 2 or 3 years. That year will be the leap year.

The lunar months begin with the new moon. The first day of the New Year will be at the new moon which occurs between mid-January and early February. Therefore it will never be the same day but it will change every year.

As for the calculation of time, in China centuries are composed of 60 years and are formed by 5 periods of 12 years (12×5=60). Each 12-year cycle is called a Great Year or Jupiterian Year, because it is the time it takes Jupiter to go around the sun approximately.

The Chinese Zodiac – Zodiac Wheel

The Chinese zodiac (which literally means the path of animals) was drawn on these supports (lunar calendar and time count): The 12-year cycle was represented with a wheel divided into 12 segments, and around the 6th century A.D. one of the animals we know today was placed in each segment. All people born in the same year would share the personality traits given to them by the animal that ruled that year.

The 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac represented always follow the same order:

Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig

To add other variables, each of these 12 years was combined with one of the energies (Yin and Yang) and in turn with one of the 5 elements (water, wood, fire, earth and metal).

But as the balance between Yin and Yang had to be maintained, each element would rule 2 years in a row, one as Yin energy and the other as Yang.

Thus we obtain the same sexagesimal cycle of 60 years that we have seen: 12 animals x 5 elements = 60 personality types.

  • Each animal of the zodiac rules for one year.
  • Each of the 5 elements rules for 2 years.
  • The Yin and Yang energies rule for one year each.

To find out the Animal or Sign, the Element and the Energy that correspond to us, we must consult the main Table of Chinese Astrology.

It is necessary that people who were born in January and February consult this table because the beginning of the Chinese year does not occur on a fixed date.