Sound Imitation Shows

Yi Dou

PureInsight | March 1, 2006

[] During the
Qing Dynasty, a person came to Beijing to put on one-man shows that
imitated different sounds. He held a wooden board that was about one
foot long and stood behind a screen. At the beginning, the audience
could hear just one sound. After a while, they began to hear many
different sounds. He put on different shows. In one show, he imitated
what happened at the local market. The audiences heard the owners of
the shops opening their doors, customers studying different items in
the shops, people in the background chatting away, agents bargaining on
the prices of the goods, and finally the owners closing the shops.

In another show, he imitated what happened on a massive hunting trip.
The audience heard the leader of the hunt giving orders, the underlings
answering to his orders, arrows being let fly from the bows, sounds
from the hunting horns and the horses, and sounds that different birds
and animals made, all the way until the hunting trip ended.

The man started out imitating one or two sounds and went all the way to
imitating hundreds or even thousands of sounds. All kinds of different
sounds filled the air. As the listeners were concentrating on listening
to all the different sounds, they suddenly heard the sound of the
wooden board being slammed hard against a surface. The whole hall
became quiet. The screen was then removed and that one man was the only
person behind the screen.

Many ancient masterful techniques have been lost, including the one described here.

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