This introductory chapter first sets out the purpose of the book, which is to present the history and music of Shanghai opera to students and scholars of ethnomusicology. Chinese music, despite being much researched by a large body of scholars, sometimes seems to remain in a peripheral position within the discipline as a whole. This study also aims to re-evaluate certain aspects of current ethnomusicological theory and practice. The chapter considers the use of the term ‘opera’ in the Chinese context followed by a discussion of Shanghai opera. An overview of the subsequent chapters is also presented.
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