- Title: CHINA: EAR-SPLITTING FEMALE DRUM TROUPE PUSHING FORWARD THE ART OF PERCUSSION.
- Date: 18th August 2004
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) DRUMMER, ZHANG YU, SAYING: "On the surface, guys might seem tougher than girls. But girls have a kind of hidden energy that they were born with. Once that comes out, it will be much more powerful."
- Embargoed: 2nd September 2004 13:00
- Location: BEIJING, CHINA
- Country: China
- Topics: Politics,Light / Amusing / Unusual / Quirky
- Reuters ID: LVA5698P0DX19LO4SZ0RQBXJJ4C8
- Aspect Ratio:
- Story Text: An ear-splitting female drum troupe is pushing forward the frontiers of the neglected art of percussion.
Drumming up a storm, a group of Chinese women are smashing stereotypes in the hope of creating a new appreciation of the art of percussion.
Forget the qipao-wearing clich of the traditional Chinese female - these women use every muscle and sinew to sweat out a resounding rhythm.
Billing themselves as China's only all-female percussion group, Red Poppy was launched in 1999.
Their repertoire runs the gamut between traditional Chinese drum music, xylophone routines, and 'modern' percussion.
Percussion is generally regarded as a male preserve, but the members of Red Poppy believe women have something to contribute to the art - bringing a much-needed soft touch usually absent from the macho beat of the drum.
"On the surface, guys might seem tougher than girls.
But girls have a kind of hidden energy that they were born with. Once that comes out, it will be much more powerful."
said drummer Zhang Yu.
In China, the percussion section is normally relegated to a position backstage - but the Red Poppy band is determined to shake up preconceptions by putting it centre stage.
"The percussion part always takes backstage at concerts. It's just a sub- character. But our band brings the percussion part of the music to the very front of a music piece. This makes people learn more about what percussion is about," said drummer Wang Yu.
The group is made up of graduates from the Beijing Conservatory of Music, one of the most prestigious music schools in the country.
Most have studied drumming for at least seven years and are proficient in a variety of styles, but the music they play is conceived and designed by professors at the Conservatory.
The band is subjected to a gruelling training programme - both musical and physical.
"We have to train them. We have a dance teacher, vocal coaches, a body builder. We have all of them. In the future, we might even have martial art teachers. We have to fuse all those art forms together, such as music, dance and rhythm. This way people will want to watch the performance," said band instructor Zhu Jianguo.
While the beat of Red Poppy's drums is already resonating through the international pop scene, in China, they are still unknowns.
The group have released their first CD this summer - hoping to make China pulse to the beat of the drum.
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