CATHERINE CLOVER
 
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Shilihe (2007)  
    Sound work full length 10' 12" from a 3 month residency in Beijing, China looking at the sounds of crickets and cicadas  
       
    Audio excerpt 2'09"  
     
       
   

Shilihe is the market where the buying and selling of singing and fighting crickets takes place in Beijing [known as cricket culture in English]. While some local people think this is a dying custom and believe only ‘old Beijingers' are interested, others believe the custom is being sustained with new interest from younger people being observed. Crickets are bought and sold both for their fighting and singing prowess. Long discussions take place as buyers consider the health and suitability of each insect. A wide range of crickets are available in the market, from the tiniest xiao huangling and jinling (yellow and golden bells - Anaxipha pallidula and Svistella bifaciata) to the dark fighting crickets – douxi and qu qu'er (Velarifictorus aspersus and V. micado) to the large green katydids – guo guo'er and xia gege (Gampsocleis gratiosa and G. sadakovii obscura). All sorts of cricket paraphernalia (cages, pots, food, food bowls) and advice on keeping insects are available.

In this recording a woman is selling her wares, squatting on the floor with all sizes of crickets singing from individual tin pots. It is morning in late August, the season is changing and the days are starting to cool. The cicadas have stopped singing for the most part and it is now the time for the crickets. Amongst at least five different species to be heard are the guo guo'er (Gampsocleis gratiosa, a katydid), an excellent singer (and loudest in the recording) and the guanzi bangzi (Loxoblemmus doenitzi, also known as coffinpoles). A young man approaches the cricket seller and makes enquiries about the best singers, what time of day they sing, what they eat and whether she finds them wild or cultivates them.

 

 
       
       

   
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