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182 CURIOSITIES OF MUSIC.
Choruses are few in Chinese pieces, but sometimes the air is sung by many voices, in order to emphasize it. and make it more plainly perceptible above the racket of the orchestra.
The Chinese have also many tragedies and comedies wherein no music whatever is employed. The actors in these, assuming the ordinary conversational tone.
Conjugal infelicity and infidelity, form a staple plot with these, and the same inappropriate and ludicrous entering into detail is apparent in them.*
Movable scenes are not used, and the most infantile devices are used when a rapid change is necessary; a general having to depart on a distant expedition, mounts a hobby horse, or even a cane, and using a small whip with one hand, imitates riding, (three or four times around the theatre being sufficient) and then, announcing that he has arrived at his destination, goes on with his speeches without any embarrassment. This is but one example of the many where the dramatists draw heavily upon the imagination of their audiences.
The actor on entering (in the play) begins by announcing his name and telling the audience why and wherefore he has come; this is done to simplify the following of the action, as in some dramas there are hosts of characters and one player often assumes many roles.
Such puerility is caused partly by the small size of the stages, which would not admit a host of performers, and partly by the fact that many of
•De Quignes Voyage a Peking v. 2, p. 325.