Our Man in China

Adroddiad Williams Gray via http://www.facebook.com/panwales

A while ago I think I was asked about Chinese perceptions of folk music or something along those lines?

Apologies for the lack of a response, had a lot of work to get through.

Chinese young people like young people everywhere tend to favour new music. This encompasses a wide range:

For example, I was hanging out with a band called Los Crasher a while back after their show in Ningbo. They were extremely into Western rock’n’roll. On stage they looked like a bizarre Chinese combination of The Ramones, The Rolling Stones and Guns’n’Roses. Funnily enough, the bass player made me think of a Chinese Nicky Wire! The drummer’s hero is Keith Moon whilst the guitarist worships Jimi Hendrix, so we had a lot in common there. He also seemed to model himself on Slash right down to the chain smoking Marlboro reds and knocking back Jack Daniels.

I have also seen a band called Hedgehog, also from Beijing, who were more Indie Pop I guess and also Hip Hop and Rap Metal acts. In terms of the masses, for the younger generation, I would say pop music rules and you can’t discount the effects of Western culture there but at the same time there is something distinctly Chinese about a lot of the output.

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In addition, in terms of pure pop, some of the production is just as impressive (if that type of sugary music impresses you) as Western pop and I think there is a noticeable Korean pop influence. I’m sure it won’t have escaped the business minded Chinese that this is marketable at the moment with the success of Psy globally but also the money K-Pop makes in general.

However, I think the original question was about folk so let’s try and address that.

First of all perhaps there is a difference in interpretation regarding what folk is. My Chinese wife tells me Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s wife is a ‘folk’ singer but, as far as I can tell, her music has often been favoured by the Party Leadership and for me ‘folk’ music is more about the struggles and lives of everyday people and often at odds with the ruling classes. That is perhaps an important distinction in itself, in China the state and the people are perceived by many to be one and the same. This aside, there will of course be a massive amount of music played all over China by different ethnic groups that has historic roots and I would be extremely surprised if that music didn’t detail the hardships of everyday life.

Finally, I should really mention Chinese Opera. There are different types of Chinese Opera all over China according to the different regions. Beijing Opera is arguably the most famous. I have been lucky enough to see some Yue Opera which is this region’s. The people there were a bit surprised to see people our age there so perhaps younger people are losing interest but the older generations seem to absolutely love it. I hope this has been reasonably illuminating. I will try and post some relevant links and footage either on this page or my own which you are welcome to share. The one I have already posted of Chinese people dancing is something you see everywhere here. They generally love music here and they all want to participate.

PS/ON :

William Gray : I should have added Xi Jinping’s wife is called Pang Liyuan. She is very famous and for a long time has been better known than Xi Jinping. I think she’s keeping her head down more these days so as not to overshadow her husband.

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