“Transplant Seedling”- Hani Polyphonic Folk Song in Honghe County

The Hani polyphonic folk song Transplant Seedling was circulated in several Hani villages centered in Puchun Village(普春村) in Honghe County, Honghe Hani and Yi Autonomous Prefecture. It is one of the National Intangible Cultural Heritage in Yunnan, which reflects the daily life and cultural of Hani Ethnic Minority.

Hani Ethnic Minority

Brief Introduction

In Hani language, the Transplant Seedling (栽秧山歌) is Wuchuaci (吾处阿茨), which is a representative work of Hani traditional folk song Achi (阿哧). Transplant Seedling is rich in content, including praising labor, love, eulogizing the beauty of the nature. Most of them are directly related to productive labor, especially  to terraced fields, rice and seedling cultivation. They can be sung from the beginning of seedling cultivation to the harvest season when paddy turns yellow, that is, from the first month to the “October Year” of the lunar calendar(农历十月年).

Form, Content and Instruments

Singing the Transplant Seedling Song is the most common and lively thing in the planting season. In some places, special singers singing between the terraces to add  fun. More often, the women planting seedlings sing extemporaneously while working.  All women over 16  in Puchun Village(普春村) can sing.  The first  form of singing is mainly singing and assisting singing(帮腔), with 7 people in general, 1 leading singer and 6 followers (4 women and 2 men) assisting. If there is a band accompaniment, the lead singer will sing after the the band starts playing. When the lead singer finishes a paragraph, the helper enters the voice part to form the effect of polyphonic voices. The second form includes instrumental accompaniment and non-instrumental accompaniment: the instruments used when singing in the house and on the stage are straight flute(直笛 ,Zhabi in Hani language), small Sanxian(小三弦,Lahe in Hani language), Sanxianxiaoerhu (三弦小二胡(Laheciwo in Hani language)and leaves. In the field, ginger leaves are made into instrument Meipa(梅琶), to make the accompany.

The singing structure of Transplant Seedling Song consists three parts: the opening (开腔), the main singing(主唱) and the assisting singing(帮腔), which formed a singing passage. This passage is also the basis for the singing of the whole ” Transplant Seedling ” , the music passage continues to repeat, while the lyrics are different. During the song, the lead singer is the core, singing the theme and the content. The assisters only sing the auxiliary words, using harmony,  multi-part polyphony, to support the lead singer, while the band accompanies. “ The assisters follow the lead singer, the wind instruments follow the men, then the string instruments follow the wind instruments; Singing and playing melodies are different, and change freely with singers; the song is natural, harmonies and leisurely. Up to now, Transplant Seedling Song has  8 voices parts in all, the music is pleasent and beautiful.

Value and Reputation

Transplant Seedling Song has great value for the study of Hani Ethnic Minority’s terrace cultivation culture and its historical origin. It is especially helpful to the understanding of Hani Ethnic Minority’s customs and culture of production and labor all the year round. Since the 1980s, the unique mode and polyphonic singing method of Transplant Seedling has gradually attracted the attention of the outside world. It has successively performed at home and abroad and successfully appeared at the CCTV Western Folk Song TV Competition. The polyphonic music of Hani Ethnic Minority has no strict system of teacher or family transmission, it is mostly taught by oral and memory. At present, there are more than 10 representative inheritors of polyphonic music in Puchun Village, and most young, middle-aged and elderly women in the village can sing it.

Chinese Version: http://www.ynich.cn/view-ml-11110-1233.html
Translated by 杨悦 from College of Foreign Languages of Yunnan Normal University