Hybrid Music

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The hybridization of Western and Chinese music
Johanna Namminga
The hybridization of Western and Chinese music has an interesting history in China. The trend towards adopting Western styles in music started early in Chinese history with the first traders and colonization. The cultural imperialism brought by colonization created a trend towards Westernization which has continued throughout Chinese history. The history of Western music in China is interesting in how the Chinese assimilated it to be their own music; it has also been interesting to see the influences Westernization has had on their culture.

To fully understand the hybridization of Western and Chinese music, the history of traditional Chinese music must first be understood. Contact with China was made by traders from Europe in 1784. Information about Chinese music has since been gathered through historical accounts from the traders and Chinese documents, as well as through studying Chinese traditions. The Chinese learned and performed music through an oral tradition without any known notation system to record those early songs. The earliest known notation system for Chinese music is from the Sung Dynasty.1 This notation, however, is indecipherable. This lack of a decipherable notation system leaves much unknown about early Chinese music and most of what is known is from oral tradition. The earliest notation system that can be interpreted is from the Yuan Dynasty.2 After this period music has been found that has been written down and preserved.3 So although not much can be known for sure about ancient Chinese music, after the Yuan Dynasty more and more is known about early Chinese music.

To the Chinese mind, there are two main components to music, tone and joy. These two aspects are represented in the Chinese characters for the word music, Yin and Yueh. Yin is the tone, which the Chinese consider the essential quality of music, much like rhythm is to Western music. Yueh is joy; the Chinese...
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