Hainan is China's second largest island. It has a population of six million, comprising principally the minority aboriginal Li people and the Han majority, originally from mainland China. The folk music of this island, while strongly linked to that of the mainland, exhibits certain distinctive characteristics that have considerable ethnomusicological significance.
Since 1980 I have been conducting research on the Hainan folk music, including field work on the island in 1981 and 1988. This thesis presents a report on certain parts of that work, particularly those parts refer to Danxian, a county in which the culture and music of the Han people of Hainan are particularly well represented. It constitutes the first, and to date the only, academic study of the musical culture of this newly declared Chinese province as a whole, and of Danxian county particular.
The major types of Hainan Han folk music (concentrated in Danxian) are examined in detail; other types are broadly surveyed. This coverage offers an overall understanding of the musical culture of Hainan. This work pays attention not only to the music itself but to relevant social, cultural, and historical factors as well. It also demonstrates the effectiveness of certain characteristically Chinese methods for analysing Chinese music. Certain academic issues, which combine musical and social phenomena and have been hitherto neglected in the People's Republic are examined and discussed, in particular the role of sexual activities and customs as observed in the erotic musical activity.