Curiosities of Music - online book

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ward character is a European or an American; they heartily enjoy all his mishaps, even his man­ner of lifting his hat and bowing, being held up to ridicule; it is very much the same kind of pleasure as we "western barbarians" enjoy in seeing such farces as " Id on parle Francais" or "The Perplexed Dutchman," where the habits of a Frenchman,and German, are the mirth-provoking element; or of a piece with the character of Sir Hugh Evans and Dr. Caius, in Shakespeare's " Merry "Wives of Windsor."
There is another point of resemblance in Shakespeare, to the Chinese drama: his following of the life of Henry vi. so closely and extensively (through three parts) suggests the more extensive life-history-dramas of the celestial empire. But the Chinese also give the " outside barbarians " a thrust, au serieux; for in their plays the devil often appears, dressed as a European.
In the music of their dramas, the Chinese are decidedly "Wagnerian, for not only do they use a great many loud instruments (chiefly of percussion) but they illustrate with them the action of the drama; when an actor enters into a combat at arms, the orchestra pound away at their instru­ments with redoubled vigor. The characters often sing long arias to the accompaniment of these voice-drowning instruments.* There is much spoken action as well as song in these dramas, which therefore approach more nearly to oui vaudevilles than any thing else.
* Lett motiven however the Chinese have not.'.'

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