Gao Qi (musician)
Gao Qi, the lead vocalist and songwriter of the Chinese rock band Overload, was born in a family with generations' classical music background in Beijing on February 26, 1968. His father is a tenor, his mother is a pianist. After withdrawing from the university, Gao, as guitarist and songwriter, joined the Chinese rock band Breath, performed on the first-ever rock festival in China, the Beijing Modern Music Concert, in February 1990; the band released their first album, Breath, in Asia in 1991. Fascinated by heavy metal, Gao quit Breath and set up his own band, with guitarist Han Hongbin, Li Yanliang, bassist Wang Xueke and drummer Zhao Muyang, who were said to be the finest rock musicians in China at that time; the songs Gao wrote combine western rock and Chinese literature and his performance burst the enthusiasm of both audience and musicians. The band built up a thrash metal style which began to attract a large number of fans in a short time; the first single released by Overload, "The Shadow of Ancestor," was recorded on the album Rock Beijing, the label record of Chinese Rock in 1993.
Meanwhile, Gao Qi's knowledge in Chinese rock and modern Western music give him chance to be engaged as music producer and songwriter in China’s first rock movie Long Hair in the Wind, as special freelancer for foreign music of Beijing Music Broadcasting. In 1995, the British music magazine the WIRE interviewed him; the band released their first album, OVERLOAD, in 1996. Their CD, Magic Blue Sky, was released in 1999, their latest one, Life is an adventure, came out in 2002. C-Rock/Sino-Rock Cui Jian Breath Overload Tang Dynasty
Halloween or Hallowe'en known as Allhalloween, All Hallows' Eve, or All Saints' Eve, is a celebration observed in several countries on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows' Day. It begins the three-day observance of Allhallowtide, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints and all the faithful departed, it is believed that many Halloween traditions originated from ancient Celtic harvest festivals the Gaelic festival Samhain. Some believe, that Halloween began as a Christian holiday, separate from ancient festivals like Samhain. Halloween activities include trick-or-treating, attending Halloween costume parties, carving pumpkins into jack-o'-lanterns, lighting bonfires, apple bobbing, divination games, playing pranks, visiting haunted attractions, telling scary stories, as well as watching horror films. In many parts of the world, the Christian religious observances of All Hallows' Eve, including attending church services and lighting candles on the graves of the dead, remain popular, although elsewhere it is a more commercial and secular celebration.
Some Christians abstained from meat on All Hallows' Eve, a tradition reflected in the eating of certain vegetarian foods on this vigil day, including apples, potato pancakes, soul cakes. The word is of Christian origin; the word "Hallowe'en" means "Saints' evening". It comes from a Scottish term for All Hallows' Eve. In Scots, the word "eve" is and this is contracted to e'en or een. Over time, Hallow Een evolved into Hallowe'en. Although the phrase "All Hallows'" is found in Old English "All Hallows' Eve" is itself not seen until 1556. Today's Halloween customs are thought to have been influenced by folk customs and beliefs from the Celtic-speaking countries, some of which are believed to have pagan roots. Jack Santino, a folklorist, writes that "there was throughout Ireland an uneasy truce existing between customs and beliefs associated with Christianity and those associated with religions that were Irish before Christianity arrived". Historian Nicholas Rogers, exploring the origins of Halloween, notes that while "some folklorists have detected its origins in the Roman feast of Pomona, the goddess of fruits and seeds, or in the festival of the dead called Parentalia, it is more linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain, which comes from the Old Irish for'summer's end'."Samhain was the first and most important of the four quarter days in the medieval Gaelic calendar and was celebrated on 31 October – 1 November in Ireland and the Isle of Man.
A kindred festival was held at the same time of year by the Brittonic Celts, called Calan Gaeaf in Wales, Kalan Gwav in Cornwall and Kalan Goañv in Brittany. For the Celts, the day began at sunset. Samhain and Calan Gaeaf are mentioned in some of Welsh literature; the names have been used by historians to refer to Celtic Halloween customs up until the 19th century, are still the Gaelic and Welsh names for Halloween. Samhain/Calan Gaeaf marked the end of the harvest season and beginning of winter or the'darker half' of the year. Like Beltane/Calan Mai, it was seen as a liminal time, when the boundary between this world and the Otherworld thinned; this meant the Aos Sí, the'spirits' or'fairies', could more come into this world and were active. Most scholars see the Aos Sí as "degraded versions of ancient gods whose power remained active in the people's minds after they had been replaced by religious beliefs"; the Aos Sí were both respected and feared, with individuals invoking the protection of God when approaching their dwellings.
At Samhain, it was believed that the Aos Sí needed to be propitiated to ensure that the people and their livestock survived the winter. Offerings of food and drink, or portions of the crops, were left outside for the Aos Sí; the souls of the dead were said to revisit their homes seeking hospitality. Places were set by the fire to welcome them; the belief that the souls of the dead return home on one night of the year and must be appeased seems to have ancient origins and is found in many cultures throughout the world. In 19th century Ireland, "candles would be lit and prayers formally offered for the souls of the dead. After this the eating and games would begin". Throughout Ireland and Britain, the household festivities included rituals and games intended to foretell one's future regarding death and marriage. Apples and nuts were used in these divination rituals, they included apple bobbing, nut roasting, scrying or mirror-gazing, pouring molten lead or egg whites into water, dream interpretation, others.
Special bonfires were lit and there were rituals involving them. Their flames and ashes were deemed to have protective and cleansing powers, were used for divination. In some places, torches lit from the bonfire were carried sunwise around homes and fields to protect them, it is suggested that the fires were a kind of imitative or sympathetic magic – they mimicked the Sun, helping the "powers of growth" and holding back the decay and darkness of winter. In Scotland, these bonfires and divination games were banned by
A record producer or music producer oversees and manages the sound recording and production of a band or performer's music, which may range from recording one song to recording a lengthy concept album. A producer has varying roles during the recording process, they may gather musical ideas for the project, collaborate with the artists to select cover tunes or original songs by the artist/group, work with artists and help them to improve their songs, lyrics or arrangements. A producer may also: Select session musicians to play rhythm section accompaniment parts or solos Co-write Propose changes to the song arrangements Coach the singers and musicians in the studioThe producer supervises the entire process from preproduction, through to the sound recording and mixing stages, and, in some cases, all the way to the audio mastering stage; the producer may perform these roles themselves, or help select the engineer, provide suggestions to the engineer. The producer may pay session musicians and engineers and ensure that the entire project is completed within the record label's budget.
A record producer or music producer has a broad role in overseeing and managing the recording and production of a band or performer's music. A producer has many roles that may include, but are not limited to, gathering ideas for the project, composing the music for the project, selecting songs or session musicians, proposing changes to the song arrangements, coaching the artist and musicians in the studio, controlling the recording sessions, supervising the entire process through audio mixing and, in some cases, to the audio mastering stage. Producers often take on a wider entrepreneurial role, with responsibility for the budget, schedules and negotiations. Writer Chris Deville explains it, "Sometimes a producer functions like a creative consultant — someone who helps a band achieve a certain aesthetic, or who comes up with the perfect violin part to complement the vocal melody, or who insists that a chorus should be a bridge. Other times a producer will build a complete piece of music from the ground up and present the finished product to a vocalist, like Metro Boomin supplying Future with readymade beats or Jack Antonoff letting Taylor Swift add lyrics and melody to an otherwise-finished “Out Of The Woods.”The artist of an album may not be a record producer or music producer for his/her album.
While both contribute creatively, the official credit of "record producer" may depend on the record contract. Christina Aguilera, for example, did not receive record producer credits until many albums into her career. In the 2010s, the producer role is sometimes divided among up to three different individuals: executive producer, vocal producer and music producer. An executive producer oversees project finances, a vocal producers oversees the vocal production, a music producer oversees the creative process of recording and mixings; the music producer is often a competent arranger, musician or songwriter who can bring fresh ideas to a project. As well as making any songwriting and arrangement adjustments, the producer selects and/or collaborates with the mixing engineer, who takes the raw recorded tracks and edits and modifies them with hardware and software tools to create a stereo or surround sound "mix" of all the individual voices sounds and instruments, in turn given further adjustment by a mastering engineer for the various distribution media.
The producer oversees the recording engineer who concentrates on the technical aspects of recording. Noted producer Phil Ek described his role as "the person who creatively guides or directs the process of making a record", like a director would a movie. Indeed, in Bollywood music, the designation is music director; the music producer's job is to create and mold a piece of music. The scope of responsibility may be one or two songs or an artist's entire album – in which case the producer will develop an overall vision for the album and how the various songs may interrelate. At the beginning of record industry, the producer role was technically limited to record, in one shot, artists performing live; the immediate predecessors to record producers were the artists and repertoire executives of the late 1920s and 1930s who oversaw the "pop" product and led session orchestras. That was the case of Ben Selvin at Columbia Records, Nathaniel Shilkret at Victor Records and Bob Haring at Brunswick Records.
By the end of the 1930s, the first professional recording studios not owned by the major companies were established separating the roles of A&R man and producer, although it wouldn't be until the late 1940s when the term "producer" became used in the industry. The role of producers changed progressively over the 1960s due to technology; the development of multitrack recording caused a major change in the recording process. Before multitracking, all the elements of a song had to be performed simultaneously. All of these singers and musicians had to be assembled in a large studio where the performance was recorded. With multitrack recording, the "bed tracks" (rhythm section accompaniment parts such as the bassline and rhythm guitar could be recorded first, the vocals and solos could be added using as many "takes" as necessary, it was no longer necessary to get all the players in the studio at the same time. A pop band could record their backing tracks one week, a horn section could be brought in a week to add horn shots and punches, a string section could be brought in a week after that.
Multitrack recording had another pro
Speed metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music that originated in the late 1970s from new wave of British heavy metal roots. It is described by AllMusic as "extremely fast and technically demanding" music."It is considered less abrasive and more melodic than thrash metal, showing less influence from hardcore punk. However, speed metal is faster and more aggressive than traditional heavy metal showing more inclination to virtuoso soloing and featuring short instrumental passages between couplets. Speed metal songs make use of expressive vocals, but are less to employ'harsh' vocals than thrash metal songs." One of the key influences on the development of speed metal was the new wave of British heavy metal, or NWOBHM. This was a heavy metal movement that started in the late 1970s, in Britain, achieved international attention by the early 1980s. NWOBHM bands toned down the blues influences of earlier acts, incorporated elements of punk, increased the tempo, adopted a "tougher" sound, taking a harder approach to its music.
It was an era directed exclusively at heavy metal fans and is considered to be a major foundation stone for the extreme metal genres. The NWOBHM came to dominate the heavy metal scene of the early-mid-1980s, it was musically characterized by fast upbeat tempo songs, power chords, fast guitar solos and melodic, soaring vocals. Groups such as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Venom and Motörhead as well as many lesser-known ones, became part of the canon that influenced American bands that formed in the early eighties. Motörhead is credited as the first band to play speed metal; some of speed metal's earlier influences include Black Sabbath's "Children of the Grave", Budgie's "Breadfan" and Queen's "Stone Cold Crazy", as well as certain Deep Purple songs such as "Speed King", "Fireball" and "Highway Star". The latter was called "early speed metal" by Robb Reiner of speed metal band Anvil; the origin song for the genre was aptly named "Speed King" by Deep Purple. Recording on the song started in 1969 making it nearly a full decade ahead of the musical style being recognized.
The song is not only fast and technical but was extremely loud creating noticeable distortion in the recording process. The title song for the bands next album, "Fireball", is a further refinement of the band's influence with drummer Ian Paice's use of the double bass; the way the double bass is played in "Fireball" - up tempo "four on the floor" - becomes a mainstay in many Heavy and Thrash Metal songs in the years to come. This is the only Deep Purple song that employs the double bass and video from the band shows them bring out the second bass as needed to play the song. While speedy, technical playing did not dominate Deep Purple's music, they were the inventors of rock, fast and loud; those characteristics would become the hallmarks of Speed Metal. Given the name of the origin song - Speed King - they probably played a role in the genre's naming. At the least they acknowledged what they were doing, a radical departure from all prior rock music. Black Sabbath are a British heavy metal band from Birmingham and are cited as one of the grandfathers of the genre.
Though known for playing a slow, sludgy tempo, "After Forever" is a up-tempo song with a much faster pace than other songs in their catalogue. Still in certain other songs such as "Electric Funeral", "Into the Void" and "Under the Sun" there is a section in the middle of the song that shifts away from the core music and plays a much faster pace than in the rest of the song returns to the original melody. There are those who believe that their song "Symptom of the Universe" from their 1975 release Sabotage album is the first true example of a speed metal song. Judas Priest are a British heavy metal band formed in Birmingham, England, they played faster than most rock groups of the time and brought a more "metallic" sound to the guitars. Some songs, such as 1978's "Exciter", were groundbreaking for their sheer speed. Exciter is a Canadian speed metal band from Ottawa, formed in 1978, they are considered to be one of the first speed metal bands and a seminal influence of the thrash metal genre. Anvil are another Canadian speed metal band, from Toronto, who formed in 1978.
To date, the band has released sixteen studio albums, has been cited as having influenced many notable thrash metal groups, including Metallica, Anthrax and Megadeth. Annihilator is a Canadian speed/thrash metal band founded in 1984 by vocalist and bassist Jeff Waters, they are the highest selling heavy metal group in Canadian history, having sold 2 million records worldwide. Accept is a German heavy metal band which played an important role in the development of speed and thrash metal, being part of the German heavy metal scene, which emerged in the early to mid-1980s. Of particular importance was their 1982 track "Fast as a Shark". Speed metal evolved into thrash metal. Although many tend to equate the two subgenres, others argue that there is a distinct difference between them. In his book Sound of the Beast: The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal, Ian Christe states that "...thrash metal relies more on long, wrenching rhythmic breaks, while speed metal... is a cleaner and more musically intricate subcategory, still loyal to the dueling melodies of classic metal."
However, on the next page, Christe calls speed metal a "subs
Chinese rock is a wide variety of rock and roll music made by rock bands and solo artists from native Chinese-speaking regions. Chinese rock is a fusion of forms accompanying the grand presentation of traditional Chinese music; the Peking All-Stars were a rock band formed in Beijing in 1979, by foreigners resident in the Chinese capital. While the first rock band in China, they were not Chinese. Chinese rock had its origins in Northwest Wind style of music, which emerged as a main genre in Mainland China; the new style was triggered by two new songs, "Xintianyou" and "Nothing To My Name", both of which drew on the folk song traditions of northern Shaanxi. They combined this with a western-style fast tempo, strong beat and aggressive bass lines. In contrast to the mellow cantopop style, Northwest Wind songs were sung forcefully, it represented the musical branch of the large-scale Root-Seeking cultural movement that manifested itself in literature and in film. Cui Jian's Northwest Wind album Rock'N' Roll on the New Long March, which included "Nothing To My Name", has been called "China's first rock album".
Many Northwest Wind songs were idealistic and political, parodying or alluding to the revolutionary songs of the Communist state, such as "Nanniwan" and "The Internationale". It is, associated with the non-Communist national music side instead of the revolutionary side; the music reflected dissatisfaction among Chinese youth, as well as the influence of western ideas such as individuality and self-empowerment. Both music and lyrics articulated a sense of pride in the power of the northwest's peasantry. Songs such as "Sister Go Boldly Forward" came to represent an earthy, primordial masculine image of Mainland China, as opposed to the soft, polished urban gangtai style; the birthplace of Chinese rock was in Beijing. As the nation's capital, the music was politicised and open to a range of foreign influences, it was marginal for most of the 1980s, consisting of live performances in small hotels. The music was exclusively for the domain of university students and "underground" bohemian circles. In late 1989 and early 1990 Chinese rock emerged into mainstream music as a combination of the Northwest Wind and prison song fads.
The first Chinese rock song was arguably the Northwest Wind anthem "Nothing To My Name", first performed in 1984 by Cui Jian recognised as the father of Chinese rock. The song introduced into post-revolutionary China a whole new ethos that combined individualism and bold expression, it soon came to symbolise the frustration harboured by a disillusioned generation of young intellectuals who grew cynical about Communism and critical of China's traditional and contemporary culture. It expressed for older Chinese, a dissatisfaction with unrealized promises of the Chinese regime. In the spring of 1989, "Nothing To My Name" became the de facto anthem of the student protestors at Tiananmen Square. Additionally, in May and July of that year, three of China's famous rock bands were established: Breathing and Zang Tianshuo's 1989. Earlier rock music groups include "Infallible", formed by Zang Tianshuo and Tang Dynasty lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Ding Wu, the most famous of all Chinese rock bands: "Black Panther" fronted by China's alternative music pioneer Dou Wei.
"Prison Songs" became popular in early 1989, parallel to the Northwest Wind style. The fad was initiated by Chi Zhiqiang, who wrote lyrics about his time in jail and set them to folk melodies from northeast China. In contrast to Northwest Wind songs, prison songs were slow, "weepy" and invoked negative role models using vulgar language and expressing despair and cynicism, their non-conformist values are apparent in such songs as "Mother Is Very Muddle-Headed" and "There Is Not a Drop of Oil in the Dish". The popularity of these songs reflected the fact that many Chinese during the 1980s became tired of official artistic representations and discourse; the patrons of prison songs were the urban youth, private entrepreneurs, who at that time were from marginal backgrounds. After the TianAnMen Square protests, rock became part of general urban youth Chinese culture, its rise from the margins was celebrated on 17 and 18 February 1990, when Beijing's largest all-rock concert was held in the Capital Gymnasium, one of the city's largest halls.
The concert featured six rock bands, among them are Cui Jian's ADO and Tang Dynasty. The criterion that the organizers set as qualification to participate was "originality". Chinese rock reached a peak of creativity and popularity between 1990 and 1993. In 1991, the glam metal band Black Panther released their self-titled debut album. With glossy production and hard rock melodies backing the sincere voice of lead singer Dou Wei, it featured hit singles such as "Don't Break My Heart and "Ashamed". A year the album went on to sell more than 1,000,000 copies nationwide, a standard never before achieved in Chinese rock history. Another band, Tang Dynasty, whose style was comparable to British heavy metal broke another barrier, their singles "9/4", "The Sun", "Choice" climbed the charts. Once again, it was not until 1992, that their debut A Dream Return to Tang Dynasty sold over 2,000,000 copies throughout Asia, including Japan and the Southea
Thrash metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music characterized by its overall aggression and fast tempo. The songs use fast percussive beats and low-register guitar riffs, overlaid with shredding-style lead work; the lyrics deal with social issues and criticism of The Establishment, using direct and denunciatory language, an approach borrowed from hardcore punk. The genre evolved in the early 1980s from combining the fast drum beats and attitude of hardcore with the double bass drumming and heavy, complex guitar style of the new wave of British heavy metal, it emerged as a reaction to the more conventional and acceptable glam metal, a less aggressive, pop music–infused heavy metal subgenre which appeared simultaneously. Thrash metal was an inspiration for subsequent extreme genres such as black metal. Thrash metal features fast tempos, low-register, complex guitar riffs, high-register guitar solos and double bass drumming; the genre evolved in the early 1980s from combining the drum beats of hardcore punk with the guitar style of the new wave of British heavy metal.
It emerged as a reaction to the more conventional and acceptable glam metal, a less aggressive, pop-infused heavy metal subgenre which appeared simultaneously. The rhythm guitar parts are played with heavy distortion and palm muted to create a tighter and more precise sound. Vocally, thrash metal can employ anything from melodic singing to shouted vocals. Most guitar solos are played at high speed and technically demanding, as they are characterized by shredding, use advanced techniques such as sweep picking, legato phrasing, alternate picking, tremolo picking, string skipping, two-hand tapping; the guitar riffs use chromatic scales and emphasize the tritone and diminished intervals, instead of using conventional single scale based riffing. For example, the intro riff of Metallica's "Master of Puppets" is a chromatic descent, followed by a chromatic ascent based on the tritone. Speed and time-changes define thrash metal. Thrash tends to have an accelerating feel which may be due in large part to its aggressive drumming style.
For example, drummers use two bass drums, or a double-bass pedal, in order to create a relentless, driving beat. Cymbal stops/chokes are used to transition from one riff to another or to precede an acceleration in tempo; some common characteristics of the genre are fast guitar riffs with aggressive picking styles and fast guitar solos, extensive use of two bass drums as opposed to the conventional use of only one, typical of most rock music. To keep up with the other instruments, many bassists use a plectrum. However, some prominent thrash metal bassists have used their fingers, such as Frank Bello, Greg Christian, Steve DiGiorgio, Robert Trujillo and Cliff Burton. Several bassists use a distorted bass tone, an approach popularized by Motörhead's Lemmy. Lyrical themes in thrash metal include warfare, injustice, suicide, alienation and other maladies that afflict the individual and society. In addition, politics pessimism and dissatisfaction towards politics, are common themes among thrash metal bands.
Humor and irony can be found, but they are limited, are exception rather than a rule. Among the earliest songs to be labeled thrash metal was Queen's "Stone Cold Crazy", recorded and released in 1974; the song was described as being thrash metal "before the term had been invented". Black Sabbath's "Symptom of the Universe", released in 1975, was the inspiration for Diamond Head's "Am I Evil?". Since NWOBHM bands directly influenced the development of early thrash; the early work of artists such as Diamond Head, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Motörhead, Tygers of Pan Tang and Angel Witch, among others, introduced the fast-paced instrumentation that became an essential aspect of thrash. Void is hailed as one of the earliest examples of hardcore/heavy metal crossover, whose chaotic musical approach is cited as influential, their 1982 split LP with fellow Washington band The Faith showed both bands exhibiting quick, high-speed punk rock. It has been argued that those recordings laid the foundation for early thrash metal, at least in terms of selected tempos.
In Europe, the earliest band of the emerging thrash movement was Venom from Newcastle upon Tyne, formed in 1979. Their 1982 album Black Metal has been cited as a major influence on many subsequent genres and bands in the extreme metal world, such as Bathory, Hellhammer and Mayhem; the European scene was exclusively influenced by the most aggressive music Germany and England were producing at the time. British bands such as Tank and Raven, along with German band Accept, motivated musicians from central Europe to start bands of their own producing groups such as Sodom and Destruction from Germany, as well as Switzerland's Coroner; the Swedish punk band Warheads have been described as a proto-thrash band. In 1981, a Southern California band Leather Charm wrote a song entitled "Hit the Lights". Leather Charm soon disbanded and the band's primary songwriter, vocalist/rhythm guitarist James Hetfield met drummer Lars Ulrich through a classified advertisement. Together and Ulrich formed Metallica, the first of the "Big Four" thrash bands, with lead guitarist Dave Mustaine, who would form Megadeth, another of the "Big Four" originators of thrash, bassist Ron McGovney.
Metallica relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area. McGovney was replaced with Cliff Burton, Mustaine was replaced with Kirk Hammett. "Hit the Lights" was featured on th
Beijing romanized as Peking, is the capital of the People's Republic of China, the world's third most populous city proper, most populous capital city. The city, located in northern China, is governed as a municipality under the direct administration of central government with 16 urban and rural districts. Beijing Municipality is surrounded by Hebei Province with the exception of neighboring Tianjin Municipality to the southeast. Beijing is an important world capital and global power city, one of the world's leading centers for politics and business, education, culture and technology, architecture and diplomacy. A megacity, Beijing is the second largest Chinese city by urban population after Shanghai and is the nation's political and educational center, it is home to the headquarters of most of China's largest state-owned companies and houses the largest number of Fortune Global 500 companies in the world, as well as the world's four biggest financial institutions. It is a major hub for the national highway, expressway and high-speed rail networks.
The Beijing Capital International Airport has been the second busiest in the world by passenger traffic since 2010, and, as of 2016, the city's subway network is the busiest and second longest in the world. Combining both modern and traditional architecture, Beijing is one of the oldest cities in the world, with a rich history dating back three millennia; as the last of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China, Beijing has been the political center of the country for most of the past eight centuries, was the largest city in the world by population for much of the second millennium A. D. Encyclopædia Britannica notes that "few cities in the world have served for so long as the political headquarters and cultural center of an area as immense as China." With mountains surrounding the inland city on three sides, in addition to the old inner and outer city walls, Beijing was strategically poised and developed to be the residence of the emperor and thus was the perfect location for the imperial capital.
The city is renowned for its opulent palaces, parks, tombs and gates. It has seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites—the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, Ming Tombs and parts of the Great Wall and the Grand Canal— all tourist locations. Siheyuans, the city's traditional housing style, hutongs, the narrow alleys between siheyuans, are major tourist attractions and are common in urban Beijing. Many of Beijing's 91 universities rank among the best in China, such as the Peking University and Tsinghua University. Beijing CBD is a center for Beijing's economic expansion, with the ongoing or completed construction of multiple skyscrapers. Beijing's Zhongguancun area is known as China's Silicon Valley and a center of innovation and technology entrepreneurship. Over the past 3,000 years, the city of Beijing has had numerous other names; the name Beijing, which means "Northern Capital", was applied to the city in 1403 during the Ming dynasty to distinguish the city from Nanjing. The English spelling is based on the pinyin romanization of the two characters as they are pronounced in Standard Mandarin.
An older English spelling, Peking, is the postal romanization of the same two characters as they are pronounced in Chinese dialects spoken in the southern port towns first visited by European traders and missionaries. Those dialects preserve the Middle Chinese pronunciation of 京 as kjaeng, prior to a phonetic shift in the northern dialects to the modern pronunciation. Although Peking is no longer the common name for the city, some of the city's older locations and facilities, such as Beijing Capital International Airport, with IATA Code PEK, Peking University, still use the former romanization; the single Chinese character abbreviation for Beijing is 京, which appears on automobile license plates in the city. The official Latin alphabet abbreviation for Beijing is "BJ"; the earliest traces of human habitation in the Beijing municipality were found in the caves of Dragon Bone Hill near the village of Zhoukoudian in Fangshan District, where Peking Man lived. Homo erectus fossils from the caves date to 230,000 to 250,000 years ago.
Paleolithic Homo sapiens lived there more about 27,000 years ago. Archaeologists have found neolithic settlements throughout the municipality, including in Wangfujing, located in downtown Beijing; the first walled city in Beijing was Jicheng, the capital city of the state of Ji and was built in 1045 BC. Within modern Beijing, Jicheng was located around the present Guang'anmen area in the south of Xicheng District; this settlement was conquered by the state of Yan and made its capital. After the First Emperor unified China, Jicheng became a prefectural capital for the region. During the Three Kingdoms period, it was held by Gongsun Zan and Yuan Shao before falling to the Wei Kingdom of Cao Cao; the AD 3rd-century Western Jin demoted the town, placing the prefectural seat in neighboring Zhuozhou. During the Sixteen Kingdoms period when northern China was conquered and divided by the Wu Hu, Jicheng was the capital of the Xianbei Former Yan Kingdom. After China was reunified during the Sui dynasty, Jicheng known as Zhuojun, became the northern terminus of the Grand Canal.
Under the Tang dynasty, Jicheng as Youzhou, served as a military frontier command center. During the An-Shi Rebellion and again amidst the turmoil of the late Tang, local military commanders founded their own shor