Western Influence on Chinese Music

Topics: Jazz, Music of China, C-pop Pages: 4 (1236 words) Published: July 31, 2012
Western Influence on Chinese Music

China has long been the cultural hub of Asia, and has had the longest amount of contact of any Asian country with other Western countries. Ever since the Silk Road was established, China has been trading with other Western countries and exchanging aspects of their cultures with one another. One of these aspects is music. But how exactly has Western music influenced Chinese music? In order to understand this, we must look at the history of Western encounters with China in terms of music.

European music was first introduced into China during the thirteenth century, which was part of the Yuan dynasty of China. Catholic missionaries introduced Western music to the Chinese imperial court. Soon, the Chinese imperial court was hiring these missionaries as music teachers. However, Western music was confined to the imperial courts and wasn’t made public to the general Chinese population until the nineteenth century. That was when Chinese students began studying overseas in Japan and Europe, where they first learned about Western music. After that, they returned to China and began spreading their knowledge of Western music. During the twentieth century, many Western musicians and composers came to Shanghai to perform and spread their style of music. Chinese musicians associated Western music with the superiority of Western science and technology, and they embraced this music. This led to the transformation of traditional Chinese music into the modern Chinese music that we see today.

With the arrival of Western music to China during the twentieth century, several new music genres emerged. One of them was Chinese popular music, which started in Shanghai in the 1920s. It was based on big band Western jazz style, which was a popular style of music in Shanghai at that time. Its founder, Li Jinhui, created an early form of Chinese pop music called shidaiqu, which is a mixture of Chinese folk music and European jazz music. This style...
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