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Courtesan vs. Literatus: Gendered Soundscapes and Aesthetics in Late-Ming Singing Culture

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This article examines the gendering of singing in the last few decades of the Ming dynasty and its connections with certain specific sonic environments. By reading together an assemblage of texts of a hybrid nature and considering each one as a complex literary or pictorial production growing out of the vibrant singing culture of the day, the author reconstructs the way in which certain soundscapes influenced and harmonized with two contrasting modes of vocal performance—the intimate “oriole”-like singing and the more masculine “crane” performing style. One observes further the rise of a new singing style that mingled the gendered categories of singing prevailing at the time and was related to the flourishing of outdoor singing festivals starting from the 1570s.
Cet article s’intéresse à la sexualisation de l’art du chant pendant les dernières décennies des Ming et à la façon dont elle était connectée avec certains environ-nements acoustiques particuliers. La lecture combinée d’une série de textes de nature hybride, considéré chacun comme une production littéraire ou picturale complexe née du dynamisme qui marquait la culture vocale de l’époque, permet à l’auteur de reconstituer la façon dont certains “paysages acoustiques” influençaient deux modes contrastés d’interprétation vocale — le style intime assimilé au chant du loriot et le mode d’interprétation plus masculin associé à celui de la grue — et s’harmonisaient avec eux. On observe en outre l’émergence d’un nouveau style vocal qui mêle les catégories sexualisées prévalant alors dans l’art du chant et qui est associé à l’essor des festivals de chant en plein air à partir des années 1570.

Affiliations: 1: (Virginia Military Institute)


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