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pated in orchestral music, and in a manner rather astonishing to us; they sometimes played the wind instruments. The singular custom of allow­ing the weaker sex to play the part requiring the strongest lungs was quite universal among ancient nations, and the Chinese may be regarded as a nation who have kept their ancient usages almost intact. It is seldom however, that women assist in any concerts whatever; the instrumental play­ing as well as the singing being almost always wholly rendered by men.
Few travellers have heard a musical Chinese lady sing, and those who have enjoyed this rare event, say it is the most torturing of all Chinese music; from the nose and throat issue the most droning and hideous sounds, and they seem to pile Ossa upon Pelion in the way of unnatural tones.
Although the female voice is therefore lacking in the concerted music of this singular people, the parts sometimes run very high for male voice and the singers for these parts are procured in the same manner in which the papal choir in the last century, procured its highest male voices.*
Of the divisions of the vocal parts in singing, very little is as yet known, although many books must exist upon the subject, which have hitherto been inaccessible to foreigners. The natural voice of the Chinese is rather high, and very high tenors are not at all rare in the empire.
* '• Les Chinoia ont remplac6 lea voix des femmes par celles des cas-rats. Les chirurgiens Chinois sont arrived a pratiquer l'operation avee ane addresse ?ingulicie et ?resque sans soufirance pour le eujeu'' La (age, Mus. dee Chin, p. 150

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III