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1- New Chinese Popular Folk Music: Appropriation or New Opportunities? - Guan Wang, University of Alberta

1:30 PM, Saturday 25 May 2019 (2 hours)
Coffee break   03:30 PM to 04:00 PM (30 minutes)

Contemporary Chinese popular music can be divided into three categories in terms of cultural-musical styles: Western-style popular music, which is music influenced by and borrowed from Western popular music genres; popular folk music or folk-pop, referring to traditional or folk music rearranged and adapted into pop music styles; and pop music with Chinese elements (Zhongguo Feng), which is a combination of both Western and Chinese music styles. While the first category of Western-style pop music faces the dispute of cultural appropriation, folk-pop also encounters the controversy of appropriation – the appropriation and abuse of traditional domestic culture, and the appropriation of the musics and cultures of ethnic minorities by the Han Chinese. Since China’s folk revival movement began in the 1980s, traditional folk music has undergone a transformation into popular music along with the growth of post-80s and post-90s generation. The commercialization and popularization of Chinese folk is under the context of drastic social and economic changes of China, a country that has experienced modernization, global consumerism, and capitalist economy since the Cultural Revolution. While some consider the popularization of folk music as a creative way to preserve and carry on the legacy of traditional Chinese music, conventionalists think of it as improper and even a dishonor to traditional culture. By examining such transformation of Chinese folk music, my study explores such questions as how we can preserve and pass on traditional music to the younger generation, as well as how can traditional culture survive among the impact of global digitization and consumerism.

University of Alberta
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