Folk long song performance technique of Limbe performances
- circular breathing
The Limbe is a side-blown flute of hardwood or bamboo, traditionally used to perform Mongolian folk long songs. Through the use of circular breathing, Limbe performers are able to produce the continuous, wide-ranging melodies characteristic of the long song. Players breathe in through the nose while simultaneously blowing out through the mouth, using air stored in their cheeks to play the flute without interruption. Single stanzas of folk long song last approximately four to five minutes. A single song consists of three to five or more stanzas, which requires performance of the flute to continue uninterrupted for twelve to twenty-five minutes. Traditional training methods used to acquire this technique include continuously blowing at a candle flame without extinguishing it and blowing through a straw into a glass of water. Limbe playing is characterized by euphonious melodies, melisma, hidden tunes and skilful and delicate movements of the fingers and tongue. The small number of bearers of the element has become cause for concern with a considerable decrease in groups and individual practitioners. This has been caused in part by the predominance of international musical forms and training systems. At present, the frequency and extent of this traditional element’s practice are unstable with only fourteen Limbe practitioners remaining.
Hezhen Yimakan storytelling
Yimakan storytelling is essential to the worldview and historical memory of the Hezhen ethnic minority of north-east China. Narrated in the Hezhen language, and taking both verse and prose forms, Yimakan storytelling consists of many independent episodes depicting tribal alliances and battles, including the defeat of monsters and invaders by Hezhen heroes. This oral heritage highlights the defence of ethnic identity and territorial integrity, but also preserves traditional knowledge of shamanic rituals, fishing and hunting. Yimakan performers improvise stories without instrumental accompaniment, alternating between singing and speaking, and make use of different melodies to represent different characters and plots. They usually train in a master-apprentice relationship within their own clans and families, although today outsiders are increasingly accepted for apprenticeship. As the Hezhen have no writing system, Yimakan plays a key role in preserving their mother tongue, religion, beliefs, folklore and customs. However, with the acceleration of modernization and the standardization of school education, the Hezhen mother tongue is now endangered. At present, only the elders can speak their native language. This loss has become a major obstacle to the promotion and sustainability of the Yimakan tradition. Only five master storytellers are currently capable of performing the episodes – a situation aggravated by the deaths of a number of veteran storytellers, and the departure of younger generations to cities in search of employment.
伊玛堪是中国东北部赫哲族人民世界观和历史记忆的重要组成部分。伊玛堪用赫哲语叙述，采用诗歌和散文的形式，由许多独立曲目组成，描述部落联盟与战争，包括赫哲族英雄战胜恶魔和入侵者的故事。这项口头传统强调对民族身份和领地完整性的保护，也保存了有关萨满仪式、捕鱼和狩猎的传统知识。伊玛堪表演者在没有乐器伴奏的情况下即兴创作故事，唱和说交替进行，并利用不同的旋律来表现不同的人物和情节。尽管现今有越来越多的外人可以成为伊玛堪学徒，但他们通常还是在部落和家庭内部以师徒传承的方式进行训练。由于赫哲族没有书写系统，所以伊玛堪在保护母语、宗教、信仰、传说和习俗方面发挥着重要作用。然而，随着现代化进程的加快和学校教育的规范化，赫哲人的母语已濒临消亡。目前，仅年长者能讲他们的母语。这种损失已成为伊玛堪口头传统宣传和可持续发展的主要障碍。如今仅有五位说唱大师能够表演曲目，数位资深的说唱艺人相继去世，年轻人远离家乡到城市就业，使得伊玛堪的传承实践状况加剧恶化。（翻译：李楠 翻译校对：朱颖 英文 / 图片：联合国教科文组织官方网站）