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Confucius Institute

“快(Kuài) 板(Ban)” - Bamboo Clapper Talk

29 February 2016

The Bamboo Clapper Talk, a form of Chinese narrative singing accompanied by a pair of bamboo clappers.

The Bamboo Clapper Talk, a form of Chinese narrative singing accompanied by a pair of bamboo clappers, is a unique folk art where storytellers accompany their own vocal performance with the rhythmic sound of bamboo clappers.

Despite each individual piece being rather short, the stories told are of a strong, rational and sentimental nature. Although the clapper talk originates in traditional Chinese poetry and therefore relies on rhetorical skills such as rhyme and harmony, the sentence structure is even more complex. The melodies of the spoken words adhere to a strict pattern of lines and rhymes that sometimes change, depending on the style and dialects of the Bamboo Clapper talk.

If you ever get a chance to try your hands on some bamboo clappers, be warned; It looks easier than it is! Basically, you should hold the five connected Bamboo clappers, which are called ‘节 (Jié) 子 (Zi)’ in your left hand, and the two larger connected clappers, which are called ‘大 (Dà) 拐 (Guai)’ in your right hand. The accompanying stories are short, interesting and easy to remember. The words and rhymes follow the rhythmic movement of the clappers, which helps language learners to develop vocal fluency and intonation. Introducing this type of Chinese performance art alongside language teaching has been very successful in Primary and even Special schools as it cultivates an appreciation of Chinese culture and assists the Chinese learner in becoming more confident and articulate when speaking Chinese. The specific sound certainly has a therapeutic effect and listening to it makes you smile even if you don’t understand the words.

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