Ba Da Chui and Percussion Ensembles
Large percussion ensembles are another major feature of rural life, with amateur groups accompanying yangge dance and ritual processions in places like Shanxi in the north or Chaozhou in the southeast. Ba Da Chui, a virtuoso and innovative quartet of state professionals, incorporates polished arrangements of local percussion pieces (notably from the Shaanxi province and the Daliuzi of the Tujia minority in Hunan, also one of Tan Dun’s influences). Their main inspiration, however, is the complex percussion that accompanies opera, notably Beijing opera. A variety of drums, cymbals, gongs, and woodblocks create complex patterns in irregular meters. The opera percussion is led by a small, high-pitched drum and clappers, with a large barrel drum that is also featured. Some items use varied cymbal techniques to imitate ducks and tigers.