China has long been the cultural hub of Asia, and has had the longest amount of contact of any Asian country with other Western countries. Ever since the Silk Road was established, China has been trading with other Western countries and exchanging aspects of their cultures with one another. One of these aspects is music. But how exactly has Western music influenced Chinese music? In order to understand this, we must look at the history of Western encounters with China in terms of music. European music was flirts introduced into China during the thirteenth century, which was part of the Yuan dynasty of China.
Catholic missionaries introduced Western music to the Chinese imperial court. Soon, the Chinese imperial court was hiring these missionaries as music teachers. However, Western music was confined to the Imperial courts and wasn’t made public to the general Chinese population until the nineteenth century. That was when Chinese students began studying overseas In Japan and Europe, where they first learned about Western music. After that, they returned to China and began spreading their knowledge of Western music. During the twentieth century, many Western musicians and composers came to
Shanghai to perform and spread their style of music. Chinese musicians associated Western music with the superiority of Western science and technology, and they embraced this music. This led to the transformation of traditional Chinese music Into the modern Chinese music that we see today. With the arrival of Western music to China during the twentieth century, several new music genres emerged. One of them was Chinese popular music, which started in Shanghai in the sass. It was based on big band Western Jazz style, which was a popular style of music in Shanghai at that time.
Its founder, Lie Jinni, created an early arm of Chinese pop music called shiatsu, which Is a mixture of Chinese folk music and European jazz music. This style of music was popularized by a Shanghai-style pop singer called Chou Guan, also known as “the golden voice”. She and the Chinese pop music industry flourished in China until the sass, when the Communist regime led by Mao took over. Pop music was replaced with revolutionary music with government propaganda, which caused the pop industry to move to Taiwan and Hong Kong.
This new musical presence in Hong Kong indirectly led to the creation of Cantonese popular music, also known as Cantonal. Cantonal is a style of popular music that emerged during the sass. It was influenced by Western folk rock music of the sass, and is set up in a rock band layout with heavy use of electronic instruments, such as the electric guitar and synthesizer. Perhaps the most famous Cantonal singer of all time, Teresa Tang, emerged during the sass. Her music touched the hearts of people all over the just supporting government propaganda to include expressing individual emotions.
Since then, many Cantonese pop singers have emerged and this genre remains famous even today. While some musicians used Western genres, such as Western pop music and Jazz, s the basis of their music, other musicians stuck with the traditional Chinese music style while adding Western elements to it. Due to the popularity of Western music in China, the popularity of traditional Chinese music diminished, and many traditional Chinese musicians were afraid that traditional music would eventually fade away. Their solution to this problem was to “modernize” traditional Chinese music.
Some of the ways they did this was to compose individual solos for traditional Chinese instruments and to compose music with Chinese elements for Western ensembles. This was the beginning of Chinese contemporary music. The founder of this style of music is Chou Went-Chunk, who was a Chinese composer that based his compositions on the Western avian-garden music style. Instead of Just using Chinese musical elements like the pentatonic scale and the folk song melody, he used elements of Chinese tradition, folklore, and history in his compositions.
He was a very influential composer of Chinese contemporary music, and many composers of the “New Wave” went to the United States to study with him in Columbia University. The New Wave composers were composers like Chou that studied the Western avian-garden style, ND they emerged after the fall of the Gang of Four in China, during that period when the Gang of Four banned many Chinese and Western instruments. The most famous of these composers, Tan Dun, produced many famous compositions that mixed Chinese and Western elements together, one of which was the soundtrack for the Chinese movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
This resulted in his score winning an Academy award and a Grammar award, and launched the popularity of his music worldwide. While Chinese contemporary musicians utilized many Western instruments, such as the violin and the clarinet, none of these instruments made an impact on Chinese sic as much as the piano. When it was introduced, the Chinese were fascinated by it. Its construction, tuning system, and international appeal represented the superiority of European technology. They viewed it as a way of being modern and participating in the advanced fine arts of Europe.
It became a symbol of high social class in China. A huge market emerged for pianos, and the popularity of the piano led to Chinese composers writing many piano pieces. A Russian composer and pianist named Alexander Deciphering came to China, and he also wrote many piano pieces there and popularized it. He helped lead the way for modern Chinese piano pieces, and he performed at the National Conservatory and taught many aspiring Chinese composers and musicians, including composer He Eluting.
He Eluting won a composition competition sponsored by Alexander Deciphering, and went on to become a famous piano composer who composed pieces that incorporated Chinese elements. Since then, many famous Chinese pianists have emerged and won many major international competitions. A recent example today would be Lang Lang, who is Chicago symphony in 1999. Since then, he has been performing for orchestras all ever the world, and most recently in June 2012 he performed at the Bucking Palace. As you can see, Western music has had a huge impact on Chinese music.
New genres such as Cantonal and Shanghai pop based on Western music styles have emerged, and traditional Chinese music has been “modernized” with Western elements. Western instruments such as the violin and piano were introduced to China, and have become important instruments in Chinese music. The Western elements of composing individual solos for instruments and composing for orchestras were also adopted into Chinese music, and have helped China develop its national music. Also, the Chinese adopted the use of printed music, the standardization of the score and tuning, and Western style performance venues.