27th CHIME Conference–cfp

Call for Participation: 27th International CHIME – Meeting in the Field
Zhejiang Conservatory, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China
7-12 November 2024

Dear Friends, Colleagues and Chinese Music Enthusiasts,

The Zhejiang Conservatory of Music in Hangzhou is proud to announce the 27th International CHIME – Meeting in the Field, 7-12 November 2024. It will be a unique five-day event, combining three days of immersive fieldwork across Zhejiang province (8-10 Nov) with a two day-conference (11-12 Nov) at the Conservatory campus, in which the participants are invited to exchange experiences and present ad hoc reports on their musical fieldwork.

About the Conference

Inspired by the 11th CHIME meeting, held in Yulin, Shaanxi province in 2006, the 27th edition of CHIME once again takes up the format of a ‘traveling conference’ – a Meeting in the Field. This time we aim to explore local musical traditions scattered across Zhejiang province. Through hands-on fieldwork sessions and insightful discussions, we hope to uncover the rich cultural tapestry woven into the various landscapes of the Jiangnan area.

Chinese and international scholars from diverse corners of the globe are expected to join forces in this meeting. Ethnomusicologists who carried out little or no fieldwork in China so far are welcome to take up the challenge. The gathering in Zhejiang will offer them rare chance to engage with China’s musical heritage and native fieldwork practices. Those who have already carried out extensive fieldwork elsewhere in China are equally welcome to take up this opportunity to access a rich and varied panoply of rural musical traditions in Zhejiang. Scholars with backgrounds in Sinology or Anthropology are also explicitly welcomed to list up! A team of seasoned local music scholars will join the event as guiding experts. Continue reading

26th CHIME Conference–cfp

CFP: 26th CHIME Conference
Sustainability and Chinese Music
University of Music, Drama and Media
Center for World Music, University of Hildesheim, Germany
3-6 October 2024

Call for Papers

Theme: Sustainability and Chinese Music

Urgent contemporary challenges have brought sustainability (可持续性) into sharp focus as a basic concern across musical worlds and research into music and sound. What are the historical and contemporary threats to the vibrancy of traditions and practices in Chinese music (technological, economic, political developments) and how have people acted to secure dynamic futures (heritage work, education, advocacy)? How has Chinese music been affected by the acute climate and environmental crisis, and can it become a potent force for change? Against these backdrops, how do individual musicians and researchers build lasting careers?

We welcome the following forms of proposal engaging with the broad theme of sustainability and Chinese music:

  1. Individual paper (20 minutes plus 10 minutes for questions): submit an abstract of max. 250 words
  2. Panel sessions of three to four papers: submit a panel abstract of max. 250 words plus abstracts of max. 200 words for each contribution
  3. Performances, workshops, film screenings or roundtable discussions: submit an abstract of 250 words; please indicate the length of the contribution. Continue reading

Music of Dao Lang

Source: The China Project (9/28/23)
The eclectic, anti-mainstream, surprisingly popular music of Dao Lang
By Charles Laughlin

Dao Lang’s latest studio album, “There Are Few Folk Songs,” with its incorporation of multiethnic instruments and strange rhythms, has touched a nerve among the Chinese public. Listen very carefully and you just might hear the cracks forming in China’s pop culture edifice.

Illustration for The China Project by Alex Santafé

Veteran Chinese pop singer Dāo Láng’s 刀郎 purported comeback, signaled by the release of the new album There Are Few Folk Songs (山歌寥哉 shāngē liáo zāi) in July, has created a huge sensation on the Chinese internet. In particular, fans have claimed that the strange song “Luochahai City” has broken the Guinness Book of World Records’ record for impressions for a music video, because the aggregate number of clicks on Chinese social media platforms (8.5 billion) has far surpassed the record held by “Despacito” on YouTube (5 billion impressions). Regardless of whether that’s true, Dao Lang’s immense popularity indicates a deep sympathy for the artist among listeners, and identification with the satire apparently embedded in the song’s lyrics.

The album’s Chinese title phonetically suggests the title of Pu Songling’s Qing-dynasty short story collection Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio (聊斋志异 liáozhāi zhì yì). The titles of all the songs are titles of Pu’s stories, and like much of Dao’s music ever since his breakout hits of almost 20 years ago, there is a mixture of traditional Chinese elements and an eclectic take on contemporary Western music.

After a jazzy instrumental overture, “Luochahai City” is the first song on the album, with a Western musical aspect that dominates throughout. “Luochahai City” is framed in a recognizably reggae style, with chords sounding on the heavy backbeats, but the time signature is 7/4, which may be unprecedented in reggae music. (Notable exceptions are songs by non-reggae bands using 7/4 with a “reggae feel,” such as Pink Floyd’s “Money” and The Grateful Dead’s “Estimated Prophet.”) With the exception of 3/4, odd time signatures give a song a backward-moving feel, and make it harder to dance to. The instrumentation is classic rhythm and blues — bass, guitar, drums, and synthesizer — but at midpoint there is a suona (a double-reed Central Asian instrument akin to the oboe) solo, which remains until the end, embellishing the verses and refrains. Continue reading

Chinese delegation all in for Russian invasion (2)

Source: NYT (9/10/23)
Chinese Singer Denounced Over Video at Bombed-Out Ukrainian Theater
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
The singer Wang Fang drew criticism after she performed “Katyusha,” a Soviet-era patriotic song, at the ruins of a theater in Mariupol.
By Javier C. Hernández

A photo of a theater with a white-columned facade that has extensive damage to the front, and windows that show the destruction inside.

The shell of the destroyed Drama Theater in Mariupol, Ukraine, in December 2022. Credit…Sergei Ilnitsky/EPA, via Shutterstock

The Chinese singer stands on a balcony inside a bombed-out theater in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, the site of a deadly attack last year by Russian forces. Looking at the camera, she sings an excerpt from the Soviet-era patriotic song “Katyusha” and lifts her arms triumphantly into the air.

The video of the singer, Wang Fang, a 38-year-old performer of patriotic songs and Chinese opera, has circulated widely online in recent days, fueling outrage in Ukraine and abroad. She appeared in Mariupol last week as part of a visit by a small group of Chinese media and cultural figures.

The exiled mayor of Mariupol, Vadym Boychenko, said the theater, which was hit by a Russian air attack while civilians sheltered there, was a “symbol of tragedy, a symbol of Russia’s war crimes” that should not be used for entertainment.

“People died there, among them children,” he said in a statement. “To turn the theater into a tourist destination and to sing on the bones of the dead is incredible cynicism and disrespect for the memory of the dead civilians.”

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry called the performance “an example of complete moral degradation” and said that Ms. Wang and the other Chinese visitors had entered the city illegally. Continue reading

Chinese delegation all in for Russian invasion (1)

Wang Fang the ‘opera singer’ and her husband the propagandist are doubling down on their support for the bloody Russian invasion of Ukraine. Traveling in the illegally annexed areas of Ukraine occupied by the aggressor, Russia, they now come out and copy Putin’s genocide propaganda directly, calling the heroic Ukrainian defenders ‘Nazis’ and insinuating Ukraine is killing its children — this while the International Criminal Court has issued a formal indictment of Putin for stealing Ukraine’s children, as in genocide.

As long as China’s own government does not immediately reject and withdraw these gross propagandists, it must be assumed that China’s government itself is officially behind this, and the signal they are sending is that China is the ally of fascist Russian aggressor in its illegal invasion, “no limits” as Xi said, so now they are the self-chosen enemy of Europe, the world, and of the UN charter.

We also note that genocide is what China is doing at home, including against the children, in their own simultaneously ongoing genocide that is aiming to erase the Uyghur people.

Wang Fang’s and her husband’s inability to care about either genocide, them choosing instead to go celebrate with the aggressor, is a sad testimony to how huge swaths of Chinese people, lacking true news, just slide defenselessly into the regime propaganda, much like the Nazis under Hitler, or Russians under Stalin or now Putler.

Magnus Fiskesjö <nf42@cornell.edu>

Chinese delegation all in for Russian invasion

According to Russian media, a delegation of Chinese journalists, bloggers and public figures from China is this moment traveling and performing in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine, including the so-called “DPR” fake “republic” and in the occupied city of Mariupol! Opera singer Wang Fang even performed a Soviet “Katyusha” song in the Mariupol drama theater where hundreds of people were killed by a Russian missile in March 2022, now being rebuilt by the Russians.

This disgusting behavior is relayed by Ukrainian media:

And, Chinese artist Badiucao reminds us, Wang Fang ‘s husband Zhou Xiaoping 周小平 is a famous propagandist writer singled out for praise by China’s Xi, Continue reading

Rock ‘n’ Roll according to the CCP

Source: NYT (8/13/23)
Rock ’n’ Roll According to the Chinese Communist Party
By Vivian Wang and 

A man spends decades working a monotonous factory job. His wife grows increasingly insecure about the future. Their son is withdrawn, seemingly struggling at school. Then a building collapses, and their world comes crashing down. It was a story of disillusionment and hopelessness in the industrial city of Shijiazhuang, and it was one of China’s most influential indie rock songs.

Then a local Communist Party group decided to rewrite it.

China’s government has long used censorship to control expression. But sometimes, instead of outright erasing a form or message it doesn’t like, it co-opts it instead, transforming it to spread what the government calls “positive energy.” (Beijing has also promoted patriotic hip-hop.)

The party rewrote nearly the entire song. But can it write lyrics? Continue reading

Dao Lang’s hit satirical song goes viral

Source: SCMP (8/5/23)
‘Curse people without dirty words’: China singer lauded for satirical song packed with coded lyrics mocking corruption in showbiz and wider society
Hashtag for song by singer-songwriter Dao Lang, which refers to ‘horses’ and ‘pigs’ gets 6.4 billion views on social media platform Douyin. Online observers say lyrics take aim at influential figures in China’s entertainment industry, problems in wider mainland society
By  in Beijing

Billions of people online have viewed a video of a new song by mainland musician Dao Lang, the lyrics of which are being interpreted as a coded attack on sleaze and corruption in the mainland entertainment industry and wider society. Photo: SCMP composite

Billions of people online have viewed a video of a new song by mainland musician Dao Lang, the lyrics of which are being interpreted as a coded attack on sleaze and corruption in the mainland entertainment industry and wider society. Photo: SCMP composite

A new song by mainland pop musician Dao Lang has become a viral phenomenon on social media because its lyrics have been interpreted as being a biting satire on the corrupt nature of show business in China.

Few expected that a new album by the 52-year-old – a singer and songwriter who is widely considered to be past his best – would achieve the level of success that it has, becoming the biggest musical hit of 2023 by far.

Luocha Haishi, one of 11 original songs from the album Folk Song Liaozai, which was released on July 19, has topped the hot list of Chinese music apps, with the song’s hashtag attracting a whopping 6.4 billion views on Douyin.

The song is billed as a combination of Chinese folk songs and stories from the classic satirical fantasy, Liaozhai Zhiyi, or Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio, by Qing dynasty (1644-1912) novelist Pu Songling.

It is adapted from a Liaozhai Zhiyi tale of the same title, which tells the story of a businessman’s adventure in a distant kingdom called Luocha, where people regard ugliness as beauty. Continue reading

Onstage and online, it’s the Party’s rules

Source: China Media Project (7/25/23)
Onstage and Online, It’s the Party’s Rules
As the pandemic raged, live online performances took off in China, filling the offline gap and giving post-90s audiences a much-needed outlet. Now, say the authorities, it’s time to retune — and reassert control over a growing market.
By David Bandurski

Image by Azchael available at Flickr.com under CC license.

Over the past three years, as the global pandemic and China’s strict lockdown policies closed the curtain on performances at live venues across the country, the spotlight turned instead to streaming platforms, which offered a new way for performing artists to be seen and heard. By June 2022, the audience in China for live online performances through streaming and short video platforms reached 469 million, more than double the audience at the start of the Covid lockdown just two years earlier.

Those numbers point to a market rapidly on the rise. But last week, a state-backed professional organization for the performing arts sector offered a more mixed assessment as it issued a set of new standards for live performance on streaming platforms.

“The rapid development of live online performances has played a positive role in boosting consumption, especially during the difficult period during the Covid-19 pandemic,” said the China Association of Performing Arts (CAPA), which doubles as a control and regulatory body for the performing arts sector. “However, it has also led to problems and negative events. The healthy environment for live online performance needs to be strengthened.” Continue reading

Interview with Yan Jun

New interview with Beijing-based poet and musician Yan Jun, on Asymptote.
To Save My Own Life With Experimentation: A Conversation with Yan Jun
by Matt Turner

Yan Jun is a poet, experimental musician, impresario, critic—and, notably, a creative driving force in Beijing’s experimental music scene since the early 2000s. In his illustrious career, he has published not only his own poetry and music, but also the work of colleagues who might not easily be seen elsewhere. A local fixture with global presence, he’s been featured journals of both literary and sound culture, played in venues from Beijing to Berlin, and has collaborated with many international musicians. His work stands out for spanning genres and straddling media, and his perspective is important not only as an artist, but also as someone negotiating different traditions.

I first came to know of Yan Jun through his Sub Jam label, and subsequently through his Waterland Kwanyin experimental music night, which featured different musicians every week for improvised performances. Much later, I had the pleasure of co-translating (with Haiying Weng) his 2018 sequence of irreverent poetry, 100 Poems of 10,000 Elephants, and then his new book of prose, Berlin Reflections, a collection of reminiscences and reflections on aesthetics and the function of art. In this following interview, I spoke with him on his various writerly and musical projects, which span intimate experiences of ritualized sound-making to large-scale installations of ambient imagination. 

Matt Turner (MT): To begin, can you say a little bit about your poetry, as well as the relationship of your music to poetry?

Yan Jun (YJ): I started writing poetry when I was thirteen years old, when around half of my classmates were also writing it—it was a bit of a trend in school for a while. Back then, I thought I would be a poet, but I just spent many years pursuing the phantom of being a poet, complete with romantic cliches like being drunk on stage, having a chaotic personal life, that kind of thing.

When I began making music around 2003, the way I wrote changed, and I slowly adopted a rather quiet and reflective style. Of course, my music had already been already going that way; eventually, I no longer wanted to scream out in public as either a musician or poet. After some turns musically, I arrived on a new stage—where I no longer concerned myself with reputation, but instead allowed myself to make stupid, or even failed music. Continue reading

Chime conference 2023–cfp

CFP: 25th International CHIME Conference: Barbarian Pipes and Strings Reconsidered — Negotiating Authenticity in the Musics of China: Transcultural Perspectives

25th International CHIME Conference, Heidelberg Centre for Asian and Transcultural Studies (CATS), October 1-4, 2023

Exactly 25 years after the last International Chime Conference in Heidelberg that focused on “Barbarian Pipes and Strings,” we return to the city by the Neckar and the Centre for Asian and Transcultural Studies (CATS) that now houses the CHIME Collection to reconsider musical practices in China from a transcultural perspective.

From Confucian debates about the “musics from Zheng and Wei” to more contemporary disputes on “lascivious musics” and “spiritual pollution”—Sunny Side Kong Yiji 阳光开朗孔乙己 just being one of the more recent examples—from controversies over ownership and copyright in old and new folksong or regional opera; to complaints about exoticism on the one hand and self-orientalism on the other—the question of how dangerous, strange or (in)authentic sounds and musics are and who “owns” them, has been important to music-making in China—even while melodies, instruments and sounds from afar have, for the longest of times, been considered some of its most “typical” elements. In this conference, we suggest to explore, how in China’s music worlds “authenticity” has been claimed, contested and negotiated

  • through and during transcultural processes and encounters,
  • through, by and with technology and media,
  • in religious or stately rituals,
  • in gendered performances,
  • in moments of cataclysmic change,
  • in the context of institutionalized (and politicized) musicking,
  • through spatial delineations,
  • in philosophical, literary or legal writings,
  • in reference to other sound cultures and environments,
  • in everyday life.

Continue reading

Sunny Side Kong Yiji

Source: China Digital Times (3/30/23)
Censors Delete Viral “Kong Yiji Literature” Anthem
Posted by 

Every movement needs its anthem. In the now-censored musical parody “Sunny Side Kong Yiji,” the emergent “Kong Yiji literature” wave seems to have found one of its own. “Kong Yiji literature” is a genre of self-deprecating online writing that compares unemployed college graduates to the eponymous protagonist of Lu Xun’s 1918 short story, an impoverished scholar who is the object of ridicule at the village pub. The original short story is a critique of state and society’s apathy towards the marginalized. The modern offshoot tilts its lance at the Chinese state’s hoary belief in the “bootstrap mentality,” whereby mere effort is supposedly a recipe for financial success.

The song was originally uploaded to video sharing site Bilibili by user @鬼山哥. It was a direct response to a rash of recent state-media reports admonishing youth to work hard and stop complaining. People’s Daily instructed youth: “Work Hard & Your Days Will Become Ever Sweeter.” CCTV posted a WeChat article, “Facing Up to the Anxiety Behind ‘Kong Yiji Literature,’” that misconstrued the “Kong Yiji” genre and pooh-poohed youth concerns about suffering a similar fate to Lu Xun’s famed protagonist. CCTV also aired footage of an impoverished “bang-bang” porter working as a Porsche drove past, while the cloying voice-over narration praised the supposed peace of mind earned through manual labor. These reports reveal official unease with youth dissatisfaction as expressed through the “lie flat” and “involution” memes, and now, the “Kong Yiji literature” trend. Continue reading

Jay Chou releases first album in six years

Source: SupChina (7/22/22)
Jay Chou, king of Mandopop, releases first album in six years, immediately shattering records
The six-year wait for new music by Taiwanese pop superstar Jay Chou is finally over. His latest album and promotional activities have become bona fide cultural phenomena in mainland China, rejuvenating Mandopop listeners’ interest in the singer-songwriter’s decades-long career.
By Zhao Yuanyuan

The past month has been a big one for Jay Chou (周杰伦 Zhōu Jiélún), one of the best-selling artists in the world of Chinese-language pop music. From casually teasing upcoming projects in a travel vlog on June 19 to shattering records across the board with his newest music, the mega pop star’s road to his 15th studio album Greatest Works of Art (最偉大的作品) has been a mix of suspense, excitement, and nostalgic fun.

With such an eventful month for the superstar — and, undoubtedly, one of the biggest moments for Mandopop this year — here is a complete timeline of Chou’s activities this summer so far:

June 19

周杰倫2022年專輯前導 . 巴黎創作紀錄片

Continue reading

Highlights from 2022 Spring Festival Gala

Source: SupChina (2/2/22)
Five highlights from the 2022 Spring Festival Gala: From standup comedy to blessings from outer space
The annual television extravaganza that is China Central Television’s Spring Festival Gala is much derided — some call it a “craptacular.” But it is one of the most-watched TV shows on the planet. This year it featured American style standup comedy for the first time and a live feed from astronauts aboard China’s space station.
By Jiayun Feng

Despite China’s stringent zero-COVID strategy, Omicron and Delta outbreaks have been identified in multiple provinces in the past few months. Efforts have been heightened to minimize the risk of cross-infections at the Beijing Winter Olympics, which will kick off this Friday.

But even amid all the uncertainties surrounding China’s COVID situation, there’s one constant in Chinese people’s cultural life that happens every year no matter what, and that’s Spring Festival Gala (春节联欢晚会 chūnjié liánhuān wǎnhuì, or 春晚 chūnwǎn for short) — an annual event broadcast by China Central Television (CCTV) on Lunar New Year’s Eve.

This year’s program, aired on Monday evening local time, was the 40th edition of the gala and the third one to take place since COVID hit the country. Even with a fully masked audience, the show still managed to feel like old times as a star-studded lineup of pop singers, dance troupes, and comedians took to the stage.

You can watch the entire show on CCTV Chunwan’s official YouTube channel, or look out for these highlights: Continue reading

Rise of female punk bands

Source: SupChina/NeoCha (12/28/21)
Rebel girls: The rise of female punk bands in China
By Ryan Dyer

Beijing-based punk band Pizza Face / Photographer: 鳄鱼拍不拍

This article was originally published on Neocha and is republished with permission.

Living too “punk” is always risky. In China, it might be an even greater risk, as the mainly black-haired, homogeneous society isn’t exactly known for being welcoming to the attitudes and aesthetics that define punk culture. Pink, six-inch hair spikes and studded jackets aren’t digestible for most in the country. Chinese parents often have particular hopes for their children, and any deviation from their expectations means disappointment.

Despite these adversities, punk bands have kept on in China. Within the underground punk scene, female punkers remain somewhat of a rarity. Though they may be hard to find, they exist. It’s encouraging to see their presence, but it’s clear that if punk wants to find a stronger foothold in China, women will need to play a larger role in its evolution. In Western countries, the role of females in punk has been a constant: bands like Bikini Kill, L7, Blondie, and The Distillers have elevated the genre to greater heights. Looking at China’s neighboring countries, such as Japan, where punk arrived much earlier, female groups like OXZ were challenging gender stereotypes as early as 1981. China’s female punk revolution has been more recent in comparison, but its development has been rapid. [READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE HERE]