Qinqiang (秦腔, pinyin: Qínqiāng) or Luantan (亂彈, pinyin: Luàntán) is the representative folk Chinese opera of the northwest Province of Shaanxi, China, where it was called Qin thousands of years ago. Its melodies originated from rural areas of ancient Shaanxi and Gansu. The word itself means "the tune or sound of Qin".
The genre uses the bangzi (woodblock) as one of the accompanying instruments, from which it derives its other name, Bangzi opera. Bangzi tune is the oldest, most affluent opera tune in China's Four Great Characteristic Melodies. Qinqiang is the representative of the Bangzi opera and the most important origin of other Bangzi operas.
Tan Dun, the composer for the opera The First Emperor, researched Qinqiang for the opera, in order to learn more about "ancient Chinese vocal styles".
Qinqiang was banned from "being performed in Beijing" in 1785 by the emperor at the time, Qianlong. It was stated that "the sexual suggestiveness of the genre" was the reason for it being banned, but it is believed that the real reason was because the difference in style from prior Chinese folk opera styles allowed social critique of China to be written into them. The ban, however, only ended up expanding the style into more areas outside of Beijing, primarily to theatres in the southeast.
There are 13 kinds of characters in Qinqiang including four kinds of "Sheng" (生, male)(老生、須生、小生、幼生), six kinds of "Dan" (旦, female)(老旦、正旦、小旦、花旦、武旦、媒旦), two kinds of "Jing" (淨, painted face male)(大淨、毛淨) and one kind of "Chou" (丑, Clown), also knowns as " 13 Tou Wangzi" (十三頭網子).