China's New Voices: Popular Music, Ethnicity, Gender, and Politics, 1978-1997

China's New Voices: Popular Music, Ethnicity, Gender, and Politics, 1978-1997

China's New Voices: Popular Music, Ethnicity, Gender, and Politics, 1978-1997

China's New Voices: Popular Music, Ethnicity, Gender, and Politics, 1978-1997

Synopsis

This is the most comprehensive study to date of the rich popular music scene in contemporary China. Focusing on the city of Beijing and drawing upon extensive fieldwork, "China's New Voices "shows that during the 1980s and 1990s, rock and pop music, combined with new technologies and the new market economy, have enabled marginalized groups to achieve a new public voice that is often independent of the state. Nimrod Baranovitch analyzes this phenomenon by focusing on three important contexts: ethnicity, gender, and state politics. His study is a fascinating look at the relationship between popular music in China and broad cultural, social, and political changes that are taking place there.

Baranovitch's sources include formal interviews and conversations conducted with some of China's most prominent rock and pop musicians and music critics, with ordinary people who provide lay perspectives on popular music culture, and with others involved in the music industry and in academia. Baranovitch alsoobserved recording sessions, concerts, and dance parties, and draws upon TV broadcasts and many publications in Chinese about popular music.

keywords: Ethnicity

Excerpt

Adopting an interdisciplinary approach that combines theories and methods from anthropology, musicology, literary criticism, and cultural studies, this book aims to provide an ethnography of popular music culture in contemporary urban China, one that pays equal attention to both descriptive and interpretive aspects. Focusing on the city of Beijing, the capital of the People's Republic of China (PRC) and one of its largest cities, the study examines three dimensions of the so-called pop and rock music culture: ethnicity, gender, and state politics.

The book is based on two field trips to China and Hong Kong that I carried out in January—August 1995 and March—June 1996. During these two periods I established contacts with many individuals: some of China's most prominent pop and rock musicians and music critics, ordinary people who provided me with lay perspectives on popular music culture, and other people involved in the music industry and academia who offered me their professional and academic perspectives. With some of these individuals I sustained close relationships and had frequent lengthy conversations, while with others I conducted formal extensive interviews. Many spontaneous occasional conversations with people on the street and in the marketplace, shops, bars, and university campuses also provided me with a considerable amount of important information. Conversations, interviews, and two open-question questionnaires that I distributed covered people belonging to different social groups, including both sexes, various age groups, different ethnic groups, as well as urbanites and newcomers from the countryside.

Much of the information on which this study is based came also from participation and observation in musical events. These included lengthy recording sessions (as an observer), live concerts of popular music, dance . . .

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