THE ART OF LION DANCING: INSTRUMENTATION
- The instruments complement the movements and energy of the lion.
- There is one drum, one gong and multiple (two or more) cymbal players. Other equipment needed include a drum stand (A simple wooden frame may suffice, raising the drum off the floor a few inches, and propping the drum up to a small angle towards the player.), at least one pair of drumsticks, a gong stick.
- The instrument team forms a semicircle near the drum, holding a vantage point to watch the drummer while being seen by the audience.
- No two positions should change at the same time.
- The music, like the lion’s movements, flows in a continuous manner from beginning until the conclusion of the dance. There is no stopping or resting until the job is done.
GENERAL MUSICAL CONSIDERATIONS
Metre: 4/4, (four beats per measure), you easily march to it.
Tempo: even, brisk walking beat (100 to 140 bpm). Varies according to style and abilities of the performers.
Dynamics: varies according to style, should reflect the spirit of the lion.
DrumThe drummer in traditional times, was the most experienced player. Like a general or commander, the drummer had to observe the entire area, guide the lion through the obstacles, watch out for unexpected trouble and keep the rest of the team unified.
Lion dancing today is not much different. The drummer is like a team captain and signals to the team through the beat. Changes in the pattern, rhythm, tempo, or volume of the drum send a signal to the lion team who respond with matching steps. “The drum guides the lion, the lion follows the drum”. It is also said “the lion moves its foot and the drum matches the step”, meaning that the lion can determine what the instruments play.
Thus, there is dynamic collaboration between the drum and lion.
There are five primary patterns:
- Thunder Drum
- Three Star Drum (Walking)
- Five Star Drum (High Lion)
- Seven Star Drum (Jumping Seven Star Lion)
- Flower Drum (fancy pattern)