Narrative songs

Source: Global Times [17:11 March 17 2011]

There are five genre of narrative songs performed by one or several singers who accompany themselves on plucked lutes or percussion. Some dastan are to do with famous lovers, like the tale of Gh?rip and S?n?m or Horliqa and H?mrajan, others tell of mythical and historical heroes and heroines of the Uygurs. Some of these tales have a long and complex background and are taken from the oral tradition. They have been reworked by the Central Asian poets and returned to the folk context. Others are based on more recent historical events. Musically the dastan employ a comparatively wide pitch range, they are attractive melodically, and may use any of the modes found in Uygur folksongs.

Qoshaq are short rhymed poems, on moral or comical themes, employing a narrower pitch range. The l?p?r skits are also counted as a genre of narrative song. The ?ytshish are sung in duets and mix sections of speech and song. They are usually comical and may be theatrical in performance, often involving men in female dress. The M?ddhi n?ghm? are stories relating to the Islamic tradition or on moral themes, with short sung refrains and longer spoken sections, usually performed without musical instruments

Formerly, after Friday prayers, people gathered in teahouses to listen to storytellers, but the tradition is now increasingly rare, a phenomenon of modernization due to the impact of television and cassettes. But storytellers can still be found today on the streets of Xinjiang's bazaars, and especially in the poorer south. They are also a common sight at Xinjiang's great mazar festivals, held at the tombs of Islamic saints as people gather in large crowds to listen.