Naxi minorites live in Yunnan (China) and they speak its own language that comes from the Yi branch of the Tibeto-Burman family. They has preserved its own identity, customs, Dongba script...and music. During the Mao times and Cultural Revolution Naxi music was not played. In the 80' it flourished again.
If you want to listen to live NAXI music you have to visit the remote south-western city of Lijiang. It is a beautiful old Town with narrow streets and nice houses. Most of the still alive musicians masters live there. Several times a week there are performances in the theatre. It plays a large orchestra of more than 20 old musiciens. Most of them are of advanced age. However, nowdays new young musicians start to play and learn the ancient music tradition throught the old musician masters. These young musicians usully play in the orchestra.
They play similar musical instruments than Han people, sometimes using different names. An exclusive instrument of this minority is the 4-strings lute named sugudu. It is made of red sandalwood or walnut wood, with a straight neck, a small groove, a round body like half of a guard, and has a leather or wood surface and four strings. They usually play erhus, pypas, drums, and other interesting instruments such as bamboo flutes, kouxian (a string played by the mouth), the yak-horn bugle, the white sea-shell trumpet, and mangluo (a gong).
Although, without taking in account the almost diary show in the theatre of Lijinag is quite difficult to come acrross with naxi performances. However, in small towns is possible to find groups of usually 4-5 musicians playing for tourists (most of them are chinese tourists).
References: 1. Helen Rees. Echoes of History: Naxi Music in Modern. Oxford University Press, USA, 2000.
The author with a naxi musician