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Xi Ban releases new album

By Chen Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2018-07-07 12:05

[Photo provided to China Daily]

Besides Zhu Ma, who does the songwriting and plays the guitar and sanxian (a traditional Chinese three-stringed instrument), the band presently also includes double bass player Yu Bo, jazz percussion Zhang Ruijia and Peking Opera actress Wang Weijia, who specializes in performing qingyi roles, or young, graceful female roles.

"Traditional Chinese operas, like Peking Opera, are strong and rich enough and it goes naturally and harmoniously with Western music like jazz. For example, I can use the guitar to play the same melodies like erhu (traditional Chinese two-string instrument) and sanxian," Zhu Ma adds.

Xi Ban released its debut album This Is The Tune in 2012. The band has since toured around the world to music events such as the CAFE Budapest Festival in 2016 and the OzAsia Festival in 2017.

Born in Altay, a city in northwestern China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, Zhu Ma arrived in Shanghai, his mother's hometown, when he was 16. He later went to Beijing after graduating from high school but eventually dropped out of university when he was 19 because he did not like studying accounting.

Zhu Ma fell in love with rock music and taught himself how to play the guitar before becoming an independent musician. While performing covers of Western songs, he started to think about creating his own music.

"For me, traditional Chinese musical instruments, such as erhu and sanxian, are quite familiar because when I was a child, I listened to lots of traditional Chinese operas and those instruments dominated the bands," recalls Zhu Ma.

"So when I wanted to create my own music, I naturally considered integrating these traditional Chinese musical instruments into my creations."

Zhu Ma can still recall how he tried in vain to convince some of his previous band members about his ideas. Those that could not understand his concept soon left the band.

"I compare traditional Chinese music to a unique language. Many young people don't listen to traditional Chinese music now. It's not the language's problem. What we should do is to keep the language alive and keep up with the pace of the contemporary world," Zhu Ma says.

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