Traditional Music of China

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The music of China dates back to the dawn of Chinese civilization with documents and artifacts providing evidence of a well-developed musical culture as early as the Zhou Dynasty (1122 BC – 256 BC). Today, the music continues a rich traditional heritage in one aspect, while emerging into a more contemporary form at the same time. Music has become somewhat commercialized in Hong Kong and Taiwan, while in mainland China music has been built more on tradition and may be considered more sophisticated.


Please see: History of music in China for a full history

Chinese musicians, date unknown, photo taken from Flickr, see photo page


The legendary founder of music in Chinese Mythology was Ling Lun, who made bamboo pipes tuned to the sounds of birds.

Pre-Dynasty Times

Photo of one of the oldest excavated Xun

In 1999 at a neolithic site of Jiahu China archeologists unearthed six complete 9000 year old bone flutes. They are believed to be the oldest playable musical instruments ever found. Later, a 7000 year old Xun, or globular flute, was unearthed in China. The instrument was designed around the minor third interval, which is still one of the organizing principles of Chinese music. As a result, preference for minor third and major sixth intervals masks the semitones of the Chinese scale, giving it the distinctive tone that's often difficult for the Western ear to discern even today.[1]

Dynasty times

Chinese music is as old as Chinese civilization. Instruments excavated from sites of the Shang dynasty (c. 1766-c. 1027 BC) include stone chimes, bronze bells, panpipes, and the sheng.[2]

Orchestral, ensemble and solo instrumental music of China are considered some of the highest art forms in the world. Multi-part formal design dominates these categories of Chinese music. A four-stage development is often used in melodic and harmonic design: qi (introduction), cheng (elucidation of the theme), zhuan (transition to another viewpoint) and he (summing up).[3]

These aesthetic principles came into their fullest flower during the Pre-Qin period (770-476 BCE). This was the age of Confucius, an unprecedented period in human civilization when talents and human resources were put to use in the most important creative endeavors. Major principalities in China competed to attract artists, scholars, diplomats, and engineers – and, of course, musicians to adorn their courts. The rise of the science of acoustics supported the ever-increasing advancements in the art of music making.[3]

According to Mencius, a powerful ruler once asked him whether it was moral if he preferred popular music to the classics. The answer was that it only mattered that the ruler love his subjects. The Imperial Music Bureau, first established in the Qin Dynasty (221–07 BC), was greatly expanded under the Emperor Han Wu Di (140–87 BC) and charged with supervising court music and military music and determining what folk music would be officially recognized. In subsequent dynasties, the development of Chinese music was strongly influenced by foreign music, especially Central Asia.

Three Kingdom (220-265), Jin (260-420). and the Northern-Southern Dynasty

From 220-589 A.D., China was no longer a unified empire and in its place reigned a number contending kingdoms and states, the majority of which hardly ruled for more than fifty years before being overthrown by another faction. The most significant musical historical events were importation and assimilation of nonindigenous music, expansion of Han musical style into southern China, new instruments, recognition of solo performance, earliest survival notation, maturity of music aesthetics by Xi Kang, and new conception of tonal systems.[4]

Sui (581-618), Tang (618-907), and Five Dynasties (907-960)

A famous painting called “Night Banquets of Han Xizhai” dating back to China’s Tang Dynasty, showing a female musician performing on a Pipa
Pear Garden

The oldest known written music is Youlan or the Solitary Orchid, attributed to Confucius (see guqin article for a sample of tablature). The first major well-documented flowering of Chinese music was for the qin during the Tang Dynasty, though the qin is known to have been played since before the Han Dynasty.

In ancient China the position of musicians was much lower than that of painters, though music was seen as central to the harmony and longevity of the state. Almost every emperor took folk songs seriously, sending officers to collect songs to inspect the popular will. One of the Confucianist Classics, Shi Jing (poets), contained many folk songs dating from 800 BC to about 300 BC.

After almost four centuries as a divided nation, Cjina was once again re-united in Sui dynasty. The followed Tang dynasty had a long period of economic, political and cultural growth. Traders, official delegates, cultural and religious missions from Central Asia, Vietnam, Japan, India and Korea were drawn to its brilliant capital center and contributed a cosmopolitan sophistication to Tang China. Foreign musicians resided at the court not only to give performances, but also to provide musical instruction. The huge music bureau of the court, such as Jiaofang, was know to have in its employment thousands of musicians and dancers for daily performing duties. The first music academy, Liyuan ("Pear Garden"), was instituted for performance and training of professional young musicians. Poems by some of the most famous literati of China were set into songs which were almost instantly popular. This body of ageless poetry was celebrated even in subsequent history, in China and abroad.[4]

The banquet music tradition for aristocracy known as yanyue had already been in practice during the ancient zhou dynasty. This music nevertheless, was overshadowed by the court ritual-ceremonial music, which was subquently reconstructed during the Han dynasty and called yanyue or "elsgant and refined music". It was not untile the Sui and Tang dynasties that uanyue or "banquet music" became the major court musical genre for the first time. Yanyue was a court musical performance for the nobles and gentries during a state function and during days of festivity.[4]

The program of banquet music consisted of music of native and national minority Chinese as well as the music of neighboring nations. The foreign music, for example, the music of Samarkand, Bukhara, Fu ran (South Asia), India, and Korea. These seven non-native styles plus the native styles resulted in a total of ten musical divisions by the early Tang dynasty called the shibu ji or "ten performing divisions". However, the division of music was no longer organized by regional and international styles later, but by "standing music" and "sitting music" performance divisions. The standing division performed mostly outdoors, had a standard repertory, and included from sixty to one-hundred and eighty musicians and dancers. The sitting division had more of an ensemble quality, and included from three to twelve musicians and dancers.[4]

This change from divisions of stylistic regions to standing and sitting organization indicated that the sinicization of previously imported style had occured by the early 8th century, and that a national high art form of dance-music genre had been created. Newly composed music took the place of imported musical genres. Although none of the yanyue repertory survived, except by name along, perhepts a trace of the sitting division style might be seen in the gagaku music of Japanese court.[4]

Music of the Northern Song (960-1127), Southern Song (1127-1279) and Yuan (1271-1368) Dynasties

A half-section of the Song Dynasty (960–1279) version of the Night Revels of Han Xizai, original by Gu Hongzhong; the female musicians in the center of the image are playing transverse bamboo flutes and guan, and the male musician is playing a wooden clapper called paiban.

The emergence of industry (iron, textile, for example) and increasing commerce caused a growing bourgeoisie population and a society that was more mobile. The printing of books made knowledge more accessible and broad literacy to a briader level. Changes in the arts and literature of this periodled to a new tradition in drama, music, fiction and impressionistic painting that dominated the development in the remaining periods of modern China. The creation of a new style in popular music, dram and literature were mostly important. The scholar-officials, who were versatile in poetry, painting and music making, found an expanded audience for their song and word production. There were for major vocal genres: the poetic ci song, the art song, narrtive music, the zaju variety musical drama. During this period, qin solo repertory also developed into a grand style.[4]

Ming-Qing Dynasties

Watercolour illustration made in China in the 1800s, showing a woman playing a luo
Chinese music ensemble depicted on a postcard from 1900
Cantonese music ensemble, postcard, undated but roughly 1900-1915

The Ming-Qing period represents a highly cultivated time and a growing literate society. Among the class of literati officials, the arts of prose-poetry writing, qin zither playing, calligraphy, and chess playing became the highest goals. Regrettably, by the 19th century, creativity was replaced by cliche, imitation and conservatism; the arts of this time are generaly criticized as becoming lifeless and stagnant. However , a great scholarly contribution of this period was the printing of large collections, anthologies and encyclopedic works, many of which have been preserved until our time. An example of a comprehensive publication for the qin zither is the Yongle qinshu jicheng (" A Collection of Qin Essays") printed in twenty volumes. Itscontents embody the history, music, theory, tuing methods and poetry on the qin. One of the most significant qin manuscript-notation collections in existenxe is the Shenqi mipu ("Mysterious and Secret Notations") published in 1425 by Zhu Quan (the sixteenth son of the first Ming emperor). Subsequently, there were over a hundred more qin manuscript-notational handbooks printed in the Ming-Qing period. Another substanrial notational collection is the 1746 publication of 81 volumes, the Jiugong dacheng nanbeici gongpu ("Nations of Northern and Southern Songs in Nine musical Keys"), that was complied by Zhou Xiangyu under imperial auspices.[4]

In addition to the practice of music and literature, a samll group of literati-gentry scholars were also preoccupied with the acoustical principles of music especially related to their investigations in mathematics and numerology. Among these was a distinguished prince, Zhu Zaiyu(1536-ca.1610), who was an eminent musicologist, mathematican and astronomer in Chinese history, perhaps better known in the later two fields than in music. Prince Zhu is credited with the development of the equal-tempered scale of twelve pitches, even though the same was not implemented into music practices in China.[4]

Besides the prodigious publications and dissemination of qin music and practices, signficant musical developments of this period occurred in the area of urban centers such as Peking and Suyang (Suzhou and Yangzhou ) were entertainment in nature. The source of this entertainment music was usually folk dervied, that is, from the farms and villages, but which was polished for city/urban consumption.[4]

In Peking the important forms of urban music included the narrative genres such as

These were performed outdoors in the open areas of the marketplaces usually by travelling performing troupes. Their earnings were donations from by-standers. These performances of musical instruments. Loud instrumentation, such as the shifan ten varieties of gong and drum ensemble of the fengyang flower drum dance, was not popular in the open air. In many instances these presentations were not for purely musical reasons, but to gain the attention of passers-by for the sale of herbal medication or other products.[4]

The outdoor performances catered to the commoners, meanwhile the indoor performances catered to an audience made up of genry-officials and wealthy merchants. The performing hall would be set up with tables and chairs to allow the audience to partake of tea and delicacies while enjoing the production. The presentation was usually operatic: Kun opera and other regional operas.[4]

During this period the influx of folk songs into cultural centers and their subsequent stylizations led to the growth of many forms of provincially (or regionally) indentified operas. Operatic genres such as the Han opera of Hubei province, Chuan opera of Sichuan province, Xiang opera of Hunan province, Min opera of Fujian province, Qinqiang of Shaanxi province, and Lu opera of Shandong province, to name some primary forms, had their formation sometime during the mid-16th century but did not reach the height of their development until the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Of these operatic genres two styles became so widely appreciated that they can be characterized as national dramatic genres. These were the Kun opera, which flourished especially in the Ming dynasty, and the Peking opera, which reached its zenith in the Qing dynasty.[4]

The first European to reach China with a musical instrument was Jesuit priest Matteo Ricci who presented a Harpsichord to the Ming imperial court in 1601, and trained four eunuchs to play it.[5]

Republic of China era (1912–1949)

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The New Culture Movement of the 1910s and 1920s evoked a great deal of lasting interest in Western music. A number of Chinese musicians returned from studying abroad to perform Western classical music, composing work based on Western musical notation system. The Kuomintang tried to sponsor modern music adoptions via the Shanghai Conservatory of Music despite the ongoing political crisis. 20th-century cultural philosophers like Xiao Youmei, Cai Yuanpei, Feng Zikai and Wang Guangqi wanted to see Chinese music adopted to the best standard possible. There were many different opinions regarding the best standard.[5]

Symphony orchestras were formed in most major cities and performed to a wide audience in the concert halls and on radio. Many of the performers added jazz influences to traditional music, adding xylophones, saxophones and violins, among other instruments. Lü Wencheng, Li Jinhui, Zhou Xuan, Qui Hechou, Yin Zizhong and He Dasha were among the most popular performers and composers during this period.

After the 1942 Yan'an Forum on Literature and Art, a large-scale campaign was launched in the Communist Party of China|Communist controlled areas to adapt folk music to create revolutionary songs to educate the largely illiterate rural population on party goals. Musical forms considered superstitious or anti-revolutionary were repressed, and harmony|harmonies and bass lines were added to traditional songs. One example is The East is Red, a folksong from northern Shaanxi which was adapted into a nationalist hymn. Of particular note is the composer, Xian Xinghai, who was active during this period, and composed the Yellow River Cantata which is the most well-known of all of his works.

People's Republic of China era (1949–1990s)

Revolutionary Opera The Red Detachment of Women

The golden age of shidaiqu and the Seven great singing stars would come to an end when the Communist Party of China| Communist party denounced Chinese popular music as yellow music (pornography).[6] Maoists considered pop music as a decline to the art form in the mainland. In 1949 the Kuomintang relocated to Taiwan, and the People's Republic of China was established. Revolutionary songs would become heavily promoted by the state. The Maoists, during the Cultural Revolution, pushed revolutionary music as the only acceptable genre; because of oppression and propaganda, this genre largely overshadowed all others and came almost to define Mainland music. This is still, in some ways, an ongoing process, but some scholars and musicians (Chinese and otherwise) are trying to retrieve what was lost and rebuild the musical heritage.

After the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, a new fast tempo Northwest Wind (xibeifeng, 西北風) style was launched by the people to counter the government. The music would progress into Chinese rock, which remained popular in the 1990s. However, music in China is very much state-owned as the TV, media, and major concert halls are all controlled by the Communist party. The government mainly chose not to support Chinese rock by limiting its exposure and airtime. As a result, the genre never reached the mainstream in its entirety.


Snow Mountain Festival in Lijiang 2002

China has a high piracy rate along with issues of intellectual properties.[7] As a result, most albums are released in Taiwan or Hong Kong first. It is often one of the business decisions made by record companies. Normally there is some delay before the products are released into the mainland, with occasional exceptions, such as the work of Cui Jian who was released in Taiwan, Hong Kong and the mainland simultaneously.[8] Consequently, a delay in release time is also the biggest driver of piracy, since individuals would rather pirate from the outside. Modern market is not only hindered by rights issues, as there are many other factors such as profit margin, income and other economical questions.

Annual events such as the Midi Music Festival in Beijing attracts tens of thousands of visitors. There was also the LiJiang Snow Mountain Festival 2002 in Yunnan province 2002. The term "Chinese Woodstock" has been thrown around by Western media for these two events. Both draw sizable crowds outdoor, but the term is not quite official. The Chinese rock movement differed from its Western counterpart in that it never fully made it into mainstream culture due to restrictions by the state.

Today, rock music is centered on almost exclusively in Beijing and Shanghai, and has very limited influence over Chinese society. Wuhan and Sichuan are sometimes considered pockets of rock music culture as well. It points to a significant cultural, political and social difference that exist between China, the West, or even different parts within China. While rock has existed in China for decades, the milestone that put the genre on the international map is when Cui Jian played with The Rolling Stones in 2003, at the age of 42.

In 2006 and 2008, the Ministry of Culture and Finance published two lists of China Intangible Cultural Heritage that also listed a number of folk music genres that had been placed under state protection.

Traditional music

Overview and Categorization

Traditional Chinese music can be categorized in a few ways:

  • by instrument used (flutes, gongs, drums, zither, etc.)
  • by region performed (Yunnan, Shaanxi, Beijing, etc.)
  • by kind of lyrical topic (worker songs, field songs, mountain songs, etc.)

Additionally traditional music can be included as part of dance and performing arts, such as theatre, shadow dance or Chinese Opera.



Traditional music in China is played on solo instruments or in small ensembles of plucked and bowed stringed instruments, flutes, and various cymbals, gongs, and drums. The scale is pentatonic. Bamboo pipes and qin are among the oldest known musical instruments from China; instruments are traditionally divided into categories based on their material of composition: skin, gourd, bamboo, wood, silk, earth/clay, metal and stone. Chinese orchestras traditionally consist of bowed strings, woodwinds, plucked strings and percussion.

  • Woodwind and percussion
dizi, sheng, paigu, gong, paixiao, guan, bells, cymbals
  • Bowed strings
erhu, zhonghu, dahu, banhu, jinghu, gaohu, gehu, yehu, cizhonghu, diyingehu, leiqin
  • Plucked and struck strings
guqin, sanxian, yangqin, guzheng, ruan, konghou, liuqin, pipa, zhu

Chinese vocal music has traditionally been sung in a thin, non-resonant voice or in falsetto and is usually solo rather than choral. All traditional Chinese music is melodic rather than harmonic. Chinese vocal music probably developed from sung poems and verses with music. Instrumental pieces played on an erhu or dizi are popular, and are often available outside of China, but the pipa and zheng music, which are more traditional, are more popular in China itself. The qin is perhaps the most revered instrument in China, even though very few people know what it is or seen and heard one being played. The zheng, a form of zither, is most popular in Henan, Chaozhou, Hakka and Shandong. The pipa, a kind of lute, believed to have been introduced from the Arabian Peninsula area during the 6th century and adopted to suit Chinese tastes, is most popular in Shanghai and surrounding areas.

Read more about Chinese musical instruments.

Music by lyrical topic

Folk songs can fall into one of nine categories:

  1. Wuge (Dance Songs)
  2. yu' ge (Fishermen Songs)
  3. Children music
  4. Vendor Cries

Han folk music thrives at weddings and funerals and usually includes a form of oboe called a suona and percussive ensembles called chuigushou. The music is diverse, sometimes jolly, sometimes sad and often based on Western pop music and TV theme songs. Ensembles consisting of mouth organs (sheng), shawms (suona), flutes (dizi) and percussion instruments (especially yunluo gongs) are popular in northern villages; their music is descended from the imperial temple music of Beijing, Xi'an, Wutai shan and Tianjin. Xi'an drum music consisting of wind and percussive instruments is popular around Xi'an, and has received some popularity outside China in a highly-commercialized form. Another important instrument is the sheng, pipes, which is an ancient instrument that is an ancestor of all Western free reed instruments, such as the accordion. Parades led by Western-type brass bands are common, often competing in volume with a shawm/chuigushou band.

In southern Fujian and Taiwan, Nanyin or Nanguan is a genre of traditional ballads. They are sung by a woman accompanied by a xiao and a pipa and other traditional instruments. The music is generally sorrowful and mourning and typically deals with love-stricken women. Further south, in Shantou, Hakka and Chaozhou, erxian and zheng ensembles are popular.

Sizhu ensembles use flutes and bowed or plucked string instruments to make harmonious and melodious music that has become popular in the West among some listeners. These are popular in Nanjing and Hangzhou, as well as elsewhere along the southern Yangtze area. Sizhu has been secularized in cities but remains spiritual in rural areas.

Jiangnan Sizhu (silk and bamboo music from Jiangnan) is a style of instrumental music, often played by amateur musicians in teahouses in Shanghai, that has become widely known outside of its place of origin.

Guangdong Music or Cantonese Music is instrumental music from Guangzhou and surrounding areas. It is based on Yueju (Cantonese Opera) music, together with new compositions from the 1920s onwards. Many pieces have influences from jazz and Western music, using syncopation and triple time.

Regional Music

China as a country has the size of Europe and also features the same diversity regionally that any other country or continent of the same size has. There are in total 56 ethnic minorities present in China, some concentrated in one province, others spread across several. Each minority has developed their own musical heritage and below a regional approach is chosen based upon music clustered to provinces.

Main articles: Regional music of China | A list of provinces in China | A list of cities in China | China Cultural Musical Heritage List - with regional category


Music forms an integral part of Tibetan Buddhism. While chanting remains perhaps the best known form of Tibetan Buddhist music, complex and lively forms are also widespread. Monks use music to recite various sacred texts and to celebrate a variety of festivals during the year. The most specialized form of chanting is called yang, which is without metrical timing and is dominated by resonant drums and sustained, low syllables. Other forms of chanting are unique to Tantra as well as the four main monastic schools: Gelugpa, Kagyupa, Nyingmapa and Sakyapa. Of these schools, Gelugpa is considered a more a restrained, classical form, while Nyingmapa is widely described as romantic and dramatic. Gelugpa is perhaps the most popular.


Guangxi is a region of China, the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Its most famous modern musician is Sister Liu, who was the subject of a 1960s film that introduced Guangxi's cultures to the rest of the world.

The Gin people are known for their instrument called duxianqin (独弦琴, pinyin: dúxiánqín; lit. "single string zither"), a string instrument with only one string, said to date back to the 8th century.

The Zhuang people are known for their bayin (八音) instrumental ensemble, which includes such instruments as the maguhu, tuhu, huluhu, sanxian, drums, and cymbals, as well as other instruments.

Guiju (桂剧), an indigenous form of opera from Guangxi, is most popular in the northern and eastern parts of the province, particularly around the city of Guilin, for which the genre is named. It is similar to Beijing opera but is sung in the Guilin dialect of Chinese.


Yunnan is an ethnically diverse area in southeast China. Perhaps best-known from the province is the lusheng, a type of mouth organ, used by the Miao people of Guizhou for pentatonic antiphonal courting songs.

The Hani of Honghe Prefecture are known for a unique kind of choral, micro-tonal rice-transplanting songs.

The Nakhi of Lijiang play a type of song and dance suite called baisha xiyue, which was supposedly brought by Kublai Khan in 1253. Nakhi Dongjing is a type of music related to southern Chinese forms, and is popular today.


Sichuan is a province in southwest China. Its capital city, Chengdu, is home to the only musical higher education institution in the region, the Sichuan Conservatory of Music. The province has a long history of Sichuan opera.


Manchuria is a region in northeast China, inhabited by ethnic groups like the Manchu. The most prominent folk instrument is the octagonal drum, while the youyouzha lullaby is also well-known.


Muqam Performance

Xinjiang is dominated by Uyghurs, a Turkic people related to others from Central Asia. The Uyghurs' best-known musical form is the On Ikki Muqam, a complex suite of twelve sections related to Uzbek and Tajik forms. These complex symphonies vary wildly between suites in the same muqam, and are built on a seven-note scale. Instruments typically include dap (a drum), dulcimers, fiddles and lutes; performers have some space for personal embellishments, especially in the percussion. The most important performer is Turdi Akhun, who recorded most of the muqams in the 1950s. Read more about Uyghur Folk.


Hua'er is a form of traditional a cappella singing that is popular in the mountainous northwestern Chinese provinces such as Gansu, Ningxia, and Qinghai.


Kuaiban is a type of rhythmic talking and singing which is often performed with percussive instruments such as hand clackers. The center of kuaiban tradition is Shandong province. Kuaiban bears some resemblance to rap and other forms of rhythmic music found in other cultures.

Traditional Music in Performing Arts

Chinese opera

Beijing Opera Performance

Chinese opera(Chinese: 戏曲/戲曲; Pinyin: xìqǔ) is a popular form of drama and musical theatre in China with roots going back as far as the third century CE. There are numerous regional branches of Chinese opera, of which the Beijing Opera (Jingju) is one of the most notable. The music is often guttural with high-pitched vocals, usually accompanied by suona, jinghu, other kinds of string instruments, and percussion. Other types of opera include clapper opera, Pingju, Cantonese opera, puppet opera, Kunqu, Sichuan opera, Qinqiang, ritual masked opera and Huangmei xi.

Modern music

These are genres that started after 1912 to coincide with the New China.

Pop music

C-pop originally began with the shidaiqu genre founded by Li Jinhui in the mainland, with Western jazz influences from the likes of Buck Clayton. After the Communist Party establishment, the Baak Doi record company ended up leaving Shanghai in 1952.[9] The 1970s saw the rise of cantopop in Hong Kong, and later mandopop in Taiwan. The mainland remained on the sideline for decades with minimal degree of participation. Only in recent years did the youth in mainland resume as a consumer for the Taiwan mandopop market. Still, China is not yet considered a major production hub despite having the largest population[10]. When Hong Kong's icon Anita Mui performed the song "Bad Girl" during the 1990s in China, she was banned from returning to the concert for showing a rebellious attitude.[11] By Western standards, the performance was no more rebellious than, for example, Madonna since Mui based a lot of her dance moves on Madonna's style. Many mainland artists often try to start their commercial success in Hong Kong or Taiwan first, and then re-import into the mainland as part of the gangtai culture.

Since the end of the 20th century, pop music in mainland China started to become more popular. Especially at the start of the 21st century, Mainland Chinese artists have started producing a wide range of mandarin pop songs along with many new albums.

Many mainland Chinese, Taiwanese and Hong Kong artists performed for the promotion of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Hip hop and rap

Main articles: Chinese rap, Hong Kong hip hop, Taiwanese hip hop

Rock and heavy metal

Main article History of Rock in China

The widely-acknowledged forefather of Chinese rock is Cui Jian.[8] In the late 1980s he played the first Chinese rock song called: "I Have Nothing" ("Yi wu suo you"). It was the first time an electric guitar was used in China. He became the most famous performer of the time, and by 1988 he performed at a concert broadcasted worldwide in conjunction with the Seoul Summer Olympic Games.[8] His socially critical lyrics earned him the anger of the government and many of his concerts were banned or cancelled. After the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, he played with a red blindfold around his head as an action against the government.

Following, two bands became famous Black Panther and Tang Dynasty. Both started during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Hei Bao is an old-school rock band whose first CD, Hei Bao used the popular English song ("Don't Break My Heart"). Tang Dynasty was the first Chinese heavy metal band. Its first CD "A Dream Return to Tang Dynasty" combines elements of traditional Chinese opera and old school heavy metal. The album was a major breakthrough releasing around 1991/1992. Unfortunately, one member of Tang Dynasty died shortly after the release.

Around 1994–96: the first thrash metal band, Chao Zai (Overload), was formed. They released three CDs, the last one in cooperation with pop singer Gao Chi of the split-up band The Breathing. At the same time the first new metal bands were formed and inspired by Western bands such as Korn, Limp Bizkit or Linkin Park. China would have their own with Yaksa, Twisted Machine, AK 47, Overheal Tank.

Punk rock

Punk rock became famous in China around 1994–1996 with the first Chinese artist of the post punk genre being He Yong and his debut record Garbage Dump. The first real wave of band formations erupted in 1995 concentrating in Beijing, and the second generation of punk bands followed around 1997.

National music

Patriotic / Revolutionary

Guoyue are basically music performed on some grand presentation to encourage national pride. Since 1949, it has been by far the most government-promoted genre. Compared to other forms of music, symphonic national music flourished throughout the country. In 1969 the cantata was adapted to a piano concerto. The Yellow River Piano Concerto was performed by the pianist Yin Chengzong, and is still performed today on global stages. During the height of the Cultural Revolution, musical composition and performance were greatly restricted. A form of soft, harmonic, generic, pan-Chinese music called guoyue was artificially created to be performed at conservatories. After the Cultural Revolution, musical institutions were reinstated and musical composition and performance revived. At the height of the Mao Zedong era, the music accelerated at the political level into "Revolutionary Music" leaning toward cult status and becoming mainstream under pro-Communist ideology.

See also


Book references

  • Jones, Steven. "The East Is Red... And White"". 2000. In Broughton, Simon and Ellingham, Mark with McConnachie, James and Duane, Orla (Ed.), World Music, Vol. 2: Latin & North America, Caribbean, India, Asia and Pacific, pp. 34–43. Rough Guides Ltd, Penguin Books. ISBN 1858286360.
  • Lee, Joanna. "Cantopop and Protest Singers". 2000. In Broughton, Simon and Ellingham, Mark with McConnachie, James and Duane, Orla (Ed.), World Music, Vol. 2: Latin & North America, Caribbean, India, Asia and Pacific, pp. 49–59. Rough Guides Ltd, Penguin Books. ISBN 1858286360.
  • Lee Yuan-Yuan and Shen, Sinyan. Chinese Musical Instruments (Chinese Music Monograph Series). 1999. Chinese Music Society of North America Press. ISBN 1-880464039.
  • Rees, Helen with Zingrong, Zhang and Wei, Li. "Sounds of the Frontiers". 2000. In Broughton, Simon and Ellingham, Mark with McConnachie, James and Duane, Orla (Ed.), World Music, Vol. 2: Latin & North America, Caribbean, India, Asia and Pacific, pp 44–48. Rough Guides Ltd, Penguin Books. ISBN 1858286360.
  • Shen, Sinyan. Chinese Music in the 20th Century (Chinese Music Monograph Series). 2001. Chinese Music Society of North America Press. ISBN 1880464047.
  • Trewin, Mark. "Raising the Roof". 2000. In Broughton, Simon and Ellingham, Mark with McConnachie, James and Duane, Orla (Ed.), World Music, Vol. 2: Latin & North America, Caribbean, India, Asia and Pacific, pp. 254–61. Rough Guides Ltd, Penguin Books. ISBN 185828636025.

Other sources

  1. Sacramento Chinese Culture Foundation. "Traditional Chinese Music". Retrieved on 2013-02-27.
  2. Paul Noll. "History of Chinese Music - Page 2". Retrieved on 2013-02-23.
  3. 3.0 3.1 as mentioned on National Geographic -
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 unknown ( "The History of Chinese Music". Retrieved on 2013-02-24.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Jones. Andrew F. [2001] (2001). Yellow Music — CL: Media Culture and Colonial Modernity in the Chinese Jazz Age. Duke University Press. ISBN 0822326949.
  6. Broughton, Simon. Ellingham, Mark. Trillo, Richard. [2000] (2000) World Music: The Rough Guide. Rough Guides Publishing Company. ISBN 1858286360.
  7. BuildingIPvalue. "BuildingIPvalue." Recent developments in intellectual property. Retrieved on 2007-04-04.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Gunde, Richard. 2002 (2002) Culture and Customs of China. Greenwood Press. ISBN 0313308764.
  9. Shoesmith, Brian. Rossiter, Ned. [2004] (2004). Refashioning Pop Music in Asia: Cosmopolitan flows, political tempos and aesthetic Industries. Routeledge Publishing. ISBN 0700714014
  10. Keane, Michael. Donald, Stephanie. Hong, Yin. [2002] (2002). Media in China: Consumption, Content and Crisis. Routledge Publishing. ISBN 0700716149
  11. Baranovitch, Nimrod. China's New Voices. University of California press. ISBN 0520234502.

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