Yuju, also called henan bangzi, is a local genre in the xiqu form, popular in Henan, Shaanxi, Gansu, Shanxi, Hebei, Shandong, Jiangsu and Anhui provinces. Yuju is also popular in Taiwan. According to the statistics, yuju is one of the leading genres in the traditional song-dance theatre in terms of the number of performers and theatre companies.
As a member of the bangzi musical system, yuju shares the characteristically high-pitched and loud music and most importantly the percussion of clappers. The lyric structure of yuju aria is in couplets. There are different ideas about the genre’s origin. Some scholars believe that the genre generated from the older bangzi music of qinqiang and puzhou bangzi when these two theatrical forms entered the area with the travelling acting troupes in the 16th-17th centuries. Practitioners created the new genre by adding Henan local folk songs and melodies into the combined two old bangzi music and created yuju.
Yuju’s role types are similar to jingju but conventionally called “four types of sheng”, “four types of dan” and “four types of painted face” including the comic role. It is famous for aria singing; the pronunciation of the words in lyrics is clear and easy to follow. Due to its strong earthy tendency, yuju is good at presenting contemporary countryside lives.