Term Paper: Compare and Contrast American Music and Asian

Pages: 9 (2888 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  Topic: Music  ·  Buy This Paper

American and Asian Music

As an Asian student taking a "History of American music" class, I have been learning many new things about American music. This is not a type of music that I usually listen to. I usually listen to Pop music from my own country, China. Specifically, I enjoy listening to the Chinese pop ballad, or K-pop. While I enjoy listening to Pop or soft music, I hate strong types of music such as rock, rock and roll, or rap. By contrast, Asian Pop always makes me feel very relaxed and comfortable. Starting this class, I had my doubts about actually enjoying the music that we would study. However, after a month in this class, I had the opportunity to expand my horizons by listening to many different types of American music, such as Native American and other types of music. I was rather surprised to find myself beginning to like the unfamiliar music, and now I can even say that K-Pop is not my only favorite music anymore. I particularly like music created by the black community, as well as that from the Revivalist period. I feel that I am now presented with a good opportunity to learn more about American music by comparing and contrasting it with Asian music. To do this, I will base my considerations upon what I now understand about American music, additional research that I have done, and my cultural experiences as an Asian person. As such, I will consider the history, cultural connotations, and some artists from both music paradigms, as well as how they integrate.

Chinese Pop

The concept of Chinese Pop was founded by Li Jinhui, a songwriter and composer born in Xiangtan, China during 1981. This genre of music originated in Shanghai, and was sung in a variety of Chinese dialects. As the founder of this music, Li Jinhui is credited with a revolution in the music industry. To date, the feudalism period predominated the industry with its traditional forms. With the composer's arrival on the scene, Li's shidaiqu created an opportunity for popular Chinese music to separate itself from the more traditional forms of the art. Other art forms such as film joined in the revolution, with artists such as Zhou Xuan recording popular songs for films. As such, she is credited by some as the first Chinese pop star.

It is interesting to note that, like American music, new forms of Chinese music was not so much of a rebellion against traditional forms as it is a natural development based upon the traditional form. History makes this clear. From an early age, Li Jinhui was for example deeply influenced and inspired by music from his hunan province hometown, including Chinese opera and Huagu flower drums. As he grew up, Li became interested in further art forms such as mandarin textbook publishing. He combined these interests in his first musical, in which his daughter, Li Minghui, performed.

The American Influence

During the 1920s, when Li began his influences to reform the music industry, Buck Clayton came to China, bringing with him American jazz. This influenced the Chinese music, and particularly popularized the Pop genre in nightclubs and dancehalls all over China's major cities. The 1920s was also the perfect time for Clayton's influence on Li and his music. He played a major role in Li's compositions, who enjoyed Clayton's input sufficiently to work with him for two years.

Environmental Influences

As will be seen in the case of American music, Chinese music was also influenced by political and cultural changes during the time of composition. Indeed, he created the "Bright Moonlight Song and Dance Troupe" in 1929, and toured throughout the country with them largely in reaction to political upheaval at the time. During his stay in Singapore, Li began his "period song" compositions, which would become known as shidaiqu, and set the precedent for the musical revolution from then on.

Unfortunately, Li Jinhui's career ended badly as a result of the extremist politics that became the reigning paradigm in China. Under the Communist Party in 1949, Chinese Pop was classified as "yellow music," meaning that it was pornographic in nature. This was also a period of considerable political upheaval, with the Japanese invasion of Manchuria and the Chinese Civil War. Music, and especially revolutionary forms of music, was seen as a distraction from more important political matters. Some select groups however kept the movement alive, and Chinese Pop music would later subdivide into Canto- and Mandopop. As the founder and main composer of such music, Li was the victim of political persecution during the cultural revolution. This is an extreme example of cultural influences on national music and its composers. An equivalent of political persecution for a specific cultural paradigm could be seen in slavery, where a cultural group was dehumanized for its service to the rich. Jazz then emerged from slavery in reaction to the political injustice perpetrated in this way.

Cantopop and Mandopop

Cantopop is derived from "Cantonese popular music." This genre, also known as HK-pop (or Hong Kong popular music), is the product of many different and varied influences. In addition to other Chinese musical forms, the range of international influences, among others, include rhythm and blues and electronic music. The genre is most popular and widespread in Hong Kong, where it caters to an international fan base as a result of its many different musical influences.

When political limitations diminished somewhat during the 1960s, other limiting factors for Cantonese music in Hong Kong included traditional Cantonese opera and the derision of western music via comedy. Cultural factors also influenced this basic lack of popularity. While artists like Tang Kee-chan, Cheng Kuan-min, and Tam Ping-man pioneered the release of Cantonese records, the generation of the time preferred British, American and Mandarin music, in connection with the idea that the culture represented by these was much more sophisticated than those enjoying Cantopop. The genre however refused to die, and artists such as Connie Chan Po-chu and Josephine Siao specifically targeted the younger generation to rival Americans such as the Beatles and Elvis. The popularization of Cantopop continued to the 1980s, which is known as the "Golden Age" of Cantopop. After this decade, the genre declined as a result of both cultural and musical factors, including the lack of newcomers and the popularity of the karaoke culture. Many however still enjoy listening to the Golden Age music.

Mandopop is derived from the phrase "Mandarin popular music." Songs in this genre are mostly performed in Mandarin, and it was only later influenced by western music. The genre expanded in Taiwan, and was considered the new genre for the youth, especially as the Taiwanese language was discouraged by the government at the time. The popularization of Mandopop during the 1960's and 1970's was greatly influenced by the termination of Cantopop broadcasts by many TV and radio stations, as well as the general perception that the former was the taste of the higher and more educated classes. During the 1980s, Mandopop was popularized by artists such as Teresa Teng.

As Cantopop diminished in popularity during the decades following the 1980s, the 1990s and the new millennium were characterized by a rise in Mandopop. The growing mainland film industry contributed greatly to the trend of rising pop stars in the genre. In addition, the recent rise of boy- and girl bands further popularized the genre among young people. Examples of these are S.H.E. And Energy. This phenomenon is current at a very high popularity level, which can be compared with the same level for American bands during the late 1980s and early 1990s. While some of these American bands still perform, the boy- and girl band trend has largely declined in the country.

The industry has also been boosted by national competitions such as the Supergirl contest, which compare to American reality shows such as Idols. Another interesting element of the genre is that, while Cantopop artists frequently cross over to the Mandopop genre to increase their fan base, the same is not true for Mandopop artists. The reasons sited for this can be related to both language and popularity. As seen above, the Mandopop genre is currently at the height of its popularity, while Cantopop is declining. Another reason is that Cantonese is more difficult to learn than Mandarin, and Mandopop artists therefore are not much inclined to enter the other genre.

From the above, it can be seen that Asian music and its different formats are closely integrated with its environment in terms of culture, politics, the experience of traditional values, and modernization. Although the United States does not share the long centuries of existence that lies behind the Asian musical tradition, its music shares some of the influential paradigms that can be distinguished in Asian music.

American Music

In comparison to traditional influences in Asian music, early American music genres were based upon traditional music from England. According to David C.F. Wright, the first settlers in… [END OF PREVIEW]

General Music and Genres Essay


Asian American Pop Culture Term Paper


Native Americans and Korean Term Paper


Traditional Southeast Asian Bamboo Flutes Studies on Origins and History Research Proposal


Hip-Hop: The Greatest of All Musical Art Research Paper


View 60 other related papers  >>

Cite This Term Paper:

APA Format

Compare and Contrast American Music and Asian.  (2007, November 1).  Retrieved October 14, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/compare-contrast-american-music-asian/2471826

MLA Format

"Compare and Contrast American Music and Asian."  1 November 2007.  Web.  14 October 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/compare-contrast-american-music-asian/2471826>.

Chicago Format

"Compare and Contrast American Music and Asian."  Essaytown.com.  November 1, 2007.  Accessed October 14, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/compare-contrast-american-music-asian/2471826.