Paper Example on Suzhou Pingtan: Combination of Tanci and Pinghua, Influenced by Wu Culture

Paper Type:  Literature review
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1835 Words
Date:  2023-01-13


Suzhou Pingtan is one of the regional types of the shuochang as well as an oral/musical performance art form which is popular in the region of southern Jiangsu, Shanghai, and the northern Zhejiang. Moreover, Suzhou Pingtan first originated from the city of Suzhou; hence, it's a combination of Tanci and pinghua, which are mostly recognized as the major forms of the Chinese narrative musical tradition (Bin 18, 2015). Also, it's highly influenced by the Wu culture, which comprises of the music, art as well as literature.

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Development in Suzhou Pingtan in recent years

Suzhou Pingtan originated about four hundred years ago in the city of Suzhou. However, from the 19th century to the start of the 20th century, Suzhou Pingtan was performed in Shanghai. During this particular time, Shanghai was highly regarded as one out of the treaty ports (Bin 19, 2015). Thus, as a result of this, the Shanghai economy started booming at a high rate, and various cultures started arriving in the city (Bordahl &Vibeke 22, 2016). Nonetheless, Suzhou Pingtan absorbed certain elements from the various cultures and also the ones which were developed under the circumstance. Pingtan art gained popularity as a result of the rise of radio stations, records, and the expansion of the performing halls which were beautifully decorated and very spacious in size (Bordahl &Vibeke 25, 2016). These factors led to people like painters, professors, and writers giving their loyalty to fans (Breuer & Rudiger 31, 2015).

Moreover, Pingtan is a folk art which is denoting Tanci and Suzhou Pinghua, which are ballad singing and storytelling in Suzhou dialect (Breuer & Rudiger 35, 2015). However, Pingtan has so far absorbed certain popular folk tunes in its development process; thus, it has a great diversity of style in storytelling as well as singing. Also, the art is popularly known for joke cracking, storytelling, aria singing, and music playing (Breuer & Rudiger 29, 2015). It's also performed in duet, solo, or as a trio involving three small stringed plucked instruments as well as Pipa, which is specifically used for accompaniments (Chen &Timmy17, 2016). Moreover, wooden clappers or ban produces various styles of melody and tone.


Tanci is popularly performed by two singer narrator, and often by one to three narrators who are accompanied by a Pipa lute and three string zither (Chen &Timmy19, 2016). Tanci also involved singing as well as telling sweet stories from, daily life and also on love affairs (Fei & Xiaotong 23, 2015). However, the most popular stories are The Jade Dragonflies, The Pearl, The Three Smiles, and The Gilded Hairpins.


Pinghua is recorded to have developed mostly from the storytelling art of the Song (960-1279) and Tang (618-907) dynasties (Fei & Xiaotong 33, 2015). Moreover, the performances are known to speak only thus no singing. For Pinghua to be performed effectively, the narrator has to hold a piece of wood as well as a fan while telling judicial, heroic, historical, and epic stories (Fu, Mengxing & Zhixiong 24, 2018). However, most popular stories are; The Seven Gallant Men, Five Heroes from the Three Kingdoms, The Sui, Gallant Heroes, The Tale of Yue Fei, Tang Dynasties, and The Water Margin (Fu 26, 2018).

Furthermore, as a result of the foundation of the people's republic of China, a specific number of eighteen performers arranged a troupe known as Shanghai peoples Pingtan regarded as the first official troupe in the land of China (Guo &Li 36, 2015). Hence, traditional long storytelling, medium-sized, as well as shorter stories, was created to reflect on the current life (Guo &Li 38, 2015). Also, the performance is still being conducted in Schuchang as a traditional performing stage. However, in the year of 1961, Suzhou Pingtan concert was conducted hence attracting almost one thousand people to watch in each performance (Guo &Li 32, 2015). On the other hand, as a result of banning the traditional repertoire during the period of the Cultural Revolution, Suzhou Pingtan is still regarded as one of the preferred medium specifically for the singing of poems amongst Mao Zedong thus, making Pingtan popular and appreciated throughout the country despite the dialectal barrier (He & Qiliang 41, 2014). However, from the year 1970, the traditional repertoire has since been revived (Guo &Li 37, 2015).

As a result of the emerging competition from the new forms of competition, Pingtan artists are currently trying out a variety of means to reach as well as to attract audiences (He & Qiliang 51, 2015). Thus, there are presently around thirty-five Pingtan troupes in the entire region. These troupes are specifically assisted in performing both in non- traditional and traditional venues such as teahouses professional gala performance (huishu), restaurants, Pingtan theatres (Schuchang), and Pingtan societies (He & Qiliang 45, 2015). Notably, the formats of the performances do vary in each of these mentioned venues, and the audiences are dedicated to old people and fans (Hong & Jin 35, 2011).

Various Changes in the teaching Method of Suzhou Pingtan

Culture is the foundation of a nation on which it depends on more so for survival, developments as well as for long term historical experiences (Hong & Jin 31, 2011). As a result, the five thousand historical years of China has since left us more knowledgeable about cultural heritage. However, due to the deepening of globalization and modernization of science and technology, much cultural heritage of China is slowly diminishing (Hong & Li 22, 2018). A lot of technology and arts which rely on oral transmission have fewer functions in daily life hence starting to decline and consequently fade away gradually (Hong & Li 24, 2018). Therefore, as a result of this, there is a lot of changes in the teaching method of Suzhou Pingtan which have been initiated to help in making this art remain relevant among the Chinese (Hong, Wuyang & Feixue 44, 2013). These teaching methods include the following:

The Use of Television

Television and films are still the core channels being used to spread the Pingtan culture (Hong 26, 2013). Certain literary as well as art workers have since adopted Pingtan themes into films and also television dramas. However, this is done not only to enrich the connotation of television and film but also to merely help in creating new vitality for the spread of Pingtan art (Jiang & Jin 51, 2011). As a result of the enrichment of the Pingtan culture, the historical connotation of these television programs and films attracts a lot of audiences to comprehend and explore with all their hearts (Jiang & Jin 49, 2011). Thus, this enables addicting endless charm to television programs and films. For instance, some movies like; If You're the One, Everlasting Regret, Caution, Lust, Lust of Love, The Lost Tom, and Jiangnan Pearl ensure that the traditional inheritance mode of Pingtan as well as maintain the refined and elegant quality of Pingtan (Jiang & Jin 53, 2011). These movies also extend to the contract space more so between modern life and Pingtan hence, let Pingtan enter the perspective of modern life (Jing-tao 46, 2011). Moreover, Pingtan is increasingly becoming popular amongst the Chinese people; thus, it has more general artistic forms of expression as a result of popular social media such as television and films (Jing-tao 45, 2011). Also, the current media industry integrates Pingtan art into a more form of expression which helps in creating a new prospect for its own wealthier artistic implication (Jing-tao 49, 2011).

Use of Modern Drama

For the purpose of commemorating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Cao Yu, Pingtan troupe gave the excellent performance of the mid-story of Pinghua Thunderstorm which adapted from Cao Yu's same name drama in Tsinghua University, Nankai University, and Peking University which were played and sang by Shi Bin and Wu Jing (Jun11, 2014). Also, in the drama series of the Jiangnan Pearl, hate, love, Pingtan artists, sorrow and joy are well implemented in the traditional Pingtan bibliography (Jun17, 2014). In "Jade dragonfly," the secret affair of You An, giving birth in the cloud room, running for the son in the hall makes the plot of the series intertwined and promoted.

Use of Animation

The animation is an art which brings joy to the people as well as implies educational importance (Jun-Feng 33, 2011). As a result of the rapid development of the internet, the era of new media follows, thus, leading to arbitrarily transmission of all kinds of information more so on the internet. Hence, animation as an emerging media culture is more popular amongst teenagers, thus plays a significant role in promoting the spreading of Pingtan traditional culture (Jun-Feng 37, 2011). Also, through the use of animations can significantly make the traditional culture to continue to solve the problem of endangered Suzhou Pingtan (Li-xing &T. A. N. G 39, 2010). Also, by integrating the cultural elements of Pingtan into animation will significantly help in opening new ways for the development of the traditional culture (Li-xing, T. A. N. G 37, 2010).

Importance of Suzhou Pingtan

Suzhou Pingtan is a kind of singing and talking art, which uses explicitly Wu dialects to pass the information (Ming 31, 2014). Moreover, Suzhou Pingtan has been so instrumental more so in the lives of the Chinese due to several reasons explained below:

Expression of feelings

Suzhou Pingtan majorly combines singing and storytelling to express feelings more strongly (Ping & T. A. N 25, 2010). Through the expression of feelings enables people to learn as well as get informed on the daily lifestyles activities. Also, the art helps in covering some culture phenomenon more so of the daily lifestyle in a more local area (Ping & T. A. N 27, 2010).

Variety of the Oral features

Suzhou Pingtan is regarded amongst the Chinese as the verbally literary art form, which comprises of a variety of the oral features (Ruihua & Z. H. A. N. G 18, 2010). Since it's a kind of language art, it uses words to form original images. Also, it enables performers to apply the use of vivid kind of words which can make the different audience to imagine the scene (Shao & Zisheng45, 2011).

Telling Stories

Suzhou Pingtan is performed explicitly to tell stories exceptionally long ones (Shen, Xin & Cheng-Hung 33, 2018). Thus, Suzhou Pingtan performers regularly separate a long story into different parts to form their styles of forming and describing plots (Shen 30, 2018). For example, gathering one to two complex plots to tell stories help makes some involvements. Also, repeating some significant are certainly common ways in the performance of Pingtan (Sheng-man & Z. H. A. N. G 56, 2015).

Entertainment Purpose

Suzhou Pingtan comprises of talking, instrumental playing, joking, acting as well as singing (Shi & Yinyun 38, 2014). Thus, through this, one can easily get entertained. Since Pingtan can also be played through singing and instrumental playing, therefore it can be played at every type of celebration, especially wedding ceremonies, birthday parties (Shi & Yinyun 37, 2014). Also, Suzhou Pingtan is widely considered amongst the Chinese as a source of entertainment and let out joy as well as excitements that may be experienced at the moment (Wu, Man-Lin, et al. 22, 2010). Suzhou Pingtan also prompts people amongst the Chinese culture to dance and also express they feel with movement (Shi & Yinyun 39, 2014).


In all levels of education, Pingtan has immense worth. It has enabled students to learn a lot of significant and necessary values of life through singing and great storytelling (Wu, Man-Lin, et al. 24...

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