Work Songs or Hao Zi (號子)

Hao zi are songs sung by people while they work.
Hence the lyrics are mostly simple, straightforward and motivating.
It is also rhythmical, aiding laborers in repetitive and strenuous tasks.

Hao zis are usually straightforward, simple and direct. They are used to motivate labour, to strive forward, to overcome difficulties, hence the music attempts to reflect such emotions. There is less improvisation on an immediate level since the purpose of the hao zi is for unification of group activity. The rhythmic characteristics of the Hao zi  varies with the type of activity it is associated with in order to aid the activity, for example, sea-faring hao zi are slower with a more varied rhythm whereas construction and mining hao zi tend to be very repetitive in its rhythm.
Some examples of Hao Zi.

Hao zi can be grouped according to their function thus dividing into

  • songs for transportation or ban yun hao zi [搬運號子]
  • songs for construction and mining or gong cheng hao zi [工程號子]
  • songs for agriculture or nong shi hao zi [農事號子]
  • songs for sea-faring activities or yu chuan hao zi [漁船號子]

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