Intro to Chinese Music (from Timeout Beijing)

Photo Credit: Timeout Beijing

Check out Timeout Beijing’s informative post on some of the musical genres of China. This is a pretty comprehensive post describing each style and its roots, and has  youku videos of a song from each genre. The genres include 摇滚 yáo gŭn (rock and roll), 校园民谣 xiào yuán mín yáo (campus folk music), 老上海 lăo shàng hăi (old Shanghai music) and 民族歌 mín zú gē (minority folk music) from 蒙古 méng gŭ (Mongolia), 傣族 dăi zú (the Dai minority), and other ethnic minorities.

“Music is a big part of life in China. Curious about the various types of music you hear on TV, in stores, and at concerts? Learn more about Chinese culture through music through Timeout Beijing’s A bluffer’s guide to China’s musical styles. 

China’s musical genres have never solely been based on style. They usually describe geographical differences but can also extend to lifestyles, access to technology and the needs of state propaganda.

Chinese musicians have often been accused of a lack of originality or even outright plagiarism. Many of the early Cantopop and Mandopop songs simply ripped off melodies from Western and Japanese pop/rock songs and filled them with Cantonese or Mandarin lyrics. Gao Xiaosong, a leading figure of the 1990s campus folk movement, argues that Han Chinese (comprising 98 per cent of China’s population) are better with words than melodies because, unlike poetry and literature, music has never played a part in documenting the nation’s history.

Whether his theory holds water is debatable, but the fact that music in China serves as a lifestyle component rather than a driving social context seems to be a consensus. The following are musical genres that are characteristic of China and popular in Beijing.”

 

 A bluffer’s guide to China’s musical style (Timeout Beijing)