Grand Songs of the Dong Ethnic Minority
Also called "Galao" the Tong grand songs, called as such because they are sung by large groups of people, are a kind of folk music that originated in the Song Dynasty (960-1279). The songs are performed in male and female antistrophic form,and are usually sung during holidays in adrum toweror near a bonfire.
Grand songs have various types, mainly: the narrative style, mainly about story plots and persona dialogues; the lyric style, mainly about love between the two genders; morality style, mainly about religious and morality expostulations; and vocality style, mainly showing the beauty of musical melody; There are also etiquette-and-custom, drum-tower and local opera grand songs; According to different singers, there are grand songs for male, female and children's voice. They are all performed by well-trained chorus.
Traditionally, a chorus is made up of one family and the formal performing place of grand song is the drum-tower. Usually the host group would invite visiting guests to sing in the antiphonal style. But it should be between groups of different genders, and song groups of the same gender cannot invite each other to sing. The songs may be solo or chorus, with the latter featuring multiple voice parts: alt, mediant and bass or only alt and bass. Bass is the main part, which, while performing, lasts for a long time, lingering like loquacious murmuring of the brook. The alt is free to express itself, imitating hundreds of birds twittering at the same time. Harmonious and prefect, grand songs have graceful melody and free rhythm, quick or slow. Sometimes, they are calm and fluent, full of sentiments, sometimes smart and bold, full of grand might, and at other times sweetly and clearly broad, echoing and attractive.
The songs express life philosophy and production knowledge. The structure is very particular, and each song is composed of three parts, the beginning, the middle, and the end, and can be sung by male, female and children's voices. These songs are often called the most beautiful nature sounds in the world.
The songs have played the important role in passing down Tong history and culture. But, with the development of the economy, the songs are in danger of dying out and are in great need of protection.