Chapter 8

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Unformatted text preview: Music At the end of the first Opium War (1842), when four ports were ceded to Great Britain, Europeans built the port of Shanghai up into a European- style city. Thousands of Europeans migrated there to set up their businesses, and thousands of Chinese moved there to find jobs. By the early twentieth century, Shanghai had become the bustling commercial, industrial, and cultural hub of Asia. To provide entertainment, musicians from Europe or the United States worked with Chinese musicians to create music in the popular styles of the time, called shidaiqu, which translates as music of the time. Early Popular Music The earliest pop songs in China were unique fusions of Chinese and Western elements. For example, the songs were rooted in Cantonese opera, but piano, drums, guitar, and piano replaced the traditional Chinese musical instruments. As jazz emerged in the United States in the 1920s, songs were written using Chinese lyrics but with jazz stylistic elements. In addition to the music in the nightclubs, Western- style recording companies were established for the multiple radio stations and to provide theme songs for the emerging television and film industry. One of the most famous of these musicians was Zhou Xuan, who sang and acted in films and is considered China’s first pop star. Listening Example: The Wandering Girl by Zhou Xuan Japan’s invasion of Shanghai in 1937, which transitioned into World War II, brought the era of a thriving popular music culture in Shanghai to an end. The Communist Party denounced popular music as pornographic and replaced it with revolutionary songs. Many people fled – some to Hong Kong and others to Taiwan. Mao made Mandarin the official language of mainland China, but the people of Hong Kong spoke Cantonese. Although the two languages have quite a large amount of common vocabulary, they are not mutually intelligible largely due to differences in grammar and pronunciation. Two subgenres developed: cantopop (sung in Cantonese and with roots in Hong Kong) and mandopop (sung in Mandarin and with roots in Taiwan), although this distinction is narrowing. Both forms draw from traditional forms of Chinese music, but also incorporate a variety of international styles. Cantopop Because Chinese popular music had been centered in Shanghai and many of the artists and producers emigrated to Hong Kong, the earliest Cantopop stars were from Shanghai. By the 1950s and 1960s, popular music was either the shidaiqu styles that followed the patterns from prior to the war or early rock ‘n’ roll from the United States Crossroads: Music of American Cultures (Barkley) Kendall Hunt Publishers, 2013 15 (such as Elvis) or Britain (the Beatles). In the 1970s, however, and following a pattern replicated in many countries around the world, Chinese musicians started imitating their idols, first doing covers, and then creating their own songs in the style. In Great Britain and the United States, rock music had branched into hard rock and soft rock. Soft rock grew from the fusion of rock with folk music stylistic elements from the Urban Folk Revival. Thus there was more emphasis on poetic lyrics, beautiful melodies, interesting harmonies, and integration of acoustic with subdued amplified instruments. Carole King, James Taylor, Cat Stevens, Elton John, and Fleetwood Mac are examples of representative singer- songwriters of soft rock. Hong Kong artists such as Joseph Koo, James Wong, Liza Wang, and Paula Tsui sang and recorded similarly mellow songs, but with Cantonese lyrics. Since television had become a household fixture in Hong Kong homes, a second stream of popular music emerged in the mid- 1970s that continued through the 1980s and is described as ...
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This document was uploaded on 02/16/2014.

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