Anna-Maria Rau

Modern Chinese Music and the Nation

©RUB, Moll-Murata

In the wake of the Republican Period (1912–1949) the contact with European, or more broadly, Western music began to increase and with its growing presence musicians in the Chinese cultural context began to incorporate and infuse those foreign styles with elements of Chinese culture. This in turn brought up questions about the place of foreign, native and fused forms of music in the Chinese cultural sphere and made room for discussions on new Chinese music.

Therefore, it is of interest to exaine which ideas of political, ideological or artistic nature were expressed in the writings of members within music circles. The regional focus will be on the cities Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong as these were the major cities in which the examined phenomena of music occurred and discourse took place. Examining this should give answers to why this synthesis was created, as well as provide helpful insights to the following questions: Why was it deemed neccessary to modernise this area of culture within national music circles and how did they argue in favour of these changes? What were the intentions, how were they realised abd how did professional circles respond? Were there any counter currents?

To further discuss and answer these questions a selection of primary sources will be examined. The sources for this study can be divided into four categories, namely newspapers and magazines, texts from and about influential figures, texts from and about institutions of the music industry, and records of music. Especially journals specialised on music allow tracing strands of arguments within the discourse.

Further sources are biographies and colected writings (such as reports, prose works, diaries, and letters) by the discourse’s participnats. The participants in question were not only notable figures working in the creation and reproduction of music, but also working in distributive and commercials functions in the music industry. Thereby the dissertation will offer new perspectives on the art of sound and meanings attached to it in times of competing political stances.