While the initial seeds of change were planted in the ‘80s, it was in the ‘90s and early ‘00s that the Chinese music industry finally began to show signs of diversification and acceptance by a new generation.

“I remember when I first heard Chinese rock music in the early ‘90s, and the excitement and memories deeply influenced me. At the time, I was an elementary school student; I thought the most interesting thing was that my parents, outside of Communist songs and some ethnic music, probably did not have too many musical options, but everyone in our generation has an experiential music history that’s different,” explains Xu Wang (王旭), drummer for the bands The Gar (嘎调) and the well-known White+ (白+).

“To use myself as an example,” he continues, “I first began listening to Oasis, Rage Against The Machine, Radiohead, etc., but it wasn’t until many years later that I learned about Jimi [Hendrix], The Beatles, The Who, Grateful Dead, etc. My meaning is that our generation of Chinese children have a music history that is chaotic, which is to say that any person’s entrance into music might depend on the first cassette tape your friend gave you; I believe that eventually, this will have a very big influence on the creation of future music.”


“[我]记得在90年代初第一次听到中国当时的摇滚乐,那种激动和记忆让我印象很深刻,那时我还是小学生;我觉得最有意思的是我们的父母除了中国红色歌曲和一些民族音乐之外可能没有更多的选择,但是我们这代每个人的音乐体验历 史可能都不一样。”嘎调乐队以及白+乐队的鼓手王旭说。

“拿我举例子,我最开始听Oasis、Rage Against The Machine, Radiohead 等,但是过了好多年我才知道还有 Jimi [Hendrix]、The Beatles、The Who、Grateful Dead等等,我的意思是我们这一代中国孩子的音乐体验都是混乱的,也就是说每个人的音乐之门可能取决于当时你的朋友给你的第一张打口磁带是什么,我相信这对于后来的音乐创作都有很大的影响,”王旭说。

Pet Conspiracy


Hua of Re-TROS had a slightly similar experience of discovery. “Diverse music from within the country began about ten years ago or so, and I personally felt a deeper impression around 2003 to 2005, when suddenly a number of rock bands – completely new bands — appeared in China,” he recalls. “Their ideas, their works, expressed themes that were more open, more rich. In fact, quite a number of these bands are now continuing to lead new developments in Chinese music.”

As with any developing music culture around the world, internet connectivity and technology have been vital in bringing Western music into the hands of a new generation of Chinese musicians – as well as listeners.

“Eight years ago, the only information we could attain about music could only come from magazines and CDs (of the kind of junk that Europeans brought China), which meant the music you heard [in China] was delayed by a few years,” explains Maria Santonastaso of Pet Conspiracy. “Because technology eradicates this kind of delay, and because music products are getting cheaper and cheaper, musicians can [now] make good music in their own homes, which evolves into a variety of musical styles that is then transmitted out through the internet. This is a very wonderful thing.”

Censorship in China still limits the free use of social media networks like YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook, but their impact is nonetheless undeniable – and unstoppable.

“New media like YouTube is changing China’s music culture more and more directly – but unfortunately, we have to use [a] VPN,” says vocalist Yan Lu (陆炎) of Wuhan’s post-punk band, AV Okubo (AV 大久保). The VPNs she mentions are also known as virtual private networks, a type of point-to-point internet connection used by Chinese residents who want to bypass state-controlled firewalls.

“Every country’s level of respect for musicians is different,” says Ilchi of the Beijing-based group Hanggai, who blend Mongolian folk music with punk rock. “[But] there should be more attention and support; the most important thing for cultural development is not to have too many restrictions.”

Indeed, regardless of censorship, many Chinese bands still have representation on Facebook, YouTube, Soundcloud, and Bandcamp. China also has a plethora of domestically-developed social networking platforms; one can also find almost every Chinese band on Douban, and Sina microblogging sites and the multi-faceted QQ are also extremely popular. With so much connectivity creating virtual roads leading in and out of China, a future of originality and musical innovation is absolutely impossible to avoid in the Chinese music scene.



“8年前我们对音乐的信息只能来源于杂志及打口CD{一种被欧洲人卖到中国的垃圾},就意味着你在这里听到的音乐有几年的延时。因为有了科技的东西把这种延时变没了,加上音乐的产品越来越便宜,音乐家可以自己在家就能做出一张好的音乐,这样就演变出很多种音乐风格出来在用互联网的方式传递出去,这是很美妙的事情,”宠物同谋乐队的 Maria Santonastaso 说。

在严格的审查制度下,在中国仍然无法自由使用 YouTube,Twitter以及Facebook,但来自于世界音乐的影响是不可否认的,也是无法阻挡的。


“每个民族对于音乐家的尊重程度都不同,应该还需要更多的重视和支持,文化的发展最重要的是不要限制的太多,” 伊立奇从北京的杭盖乐队说。这支乐队将蒙古民谣与庞克摇滚相糅合。

确实,尽管审查无处不在,许多中国乐队依然在Facebook,YouTube,Soundcloud 以及 Bandcamp 上分享作品。中国国内也有许多中文社交平台:在Douban 上几乎可以找到国内所有乐队,新浪微博以及腾讯QQ也十分受欢迎。在众多国内外网络通道的连接下,中国音乐市场充满原创与创新的未来是无法否认及避免的。

Featured: AV Okubo & Mr. Chelonian // AV大久保 & 海龟先生

“I think Chinese musicians have not yet been given due respect and attention; because of China’s history, many people think that musicians are to provide entertainment in the service of others. They believe that only art, film, and dance are considered art, [and] this kind of thinking is extremely unfavorable to music and creation. I don’t know when this kind of thinking will change in China, and for many people, modern forms of Western music are too free, too direct, and too brave.” – LongShengDao (Dragon God’s Way)

“我认为中国的音乐家还没有得到应有的尊重和重视,因为中国的历史原因很多人认为音乐家是为了提供别人娱乐去服务的人,他们认为只有美术电影舞蹈算是艺术,这样的想法对音乐和音乐家的创作是非常不利的,我不知道在中国这样的想法什么时候会改变,而且对于很多人来说现代的音乐西方的音乐形式太过自由太过直接和勇敢。” – 龙神道乐队

The Chinese Society’s View on Modern Chinese Music

The Government & The Media // 政府及媒体
To touch upon the political structure that has shaped the state of Chinese music since its very beginning, we need only look to the current Chinese government to see that opinions are quite polarized amongst the music community. Some find that the Chinese government is completely apathetic; some say it is extremely supportive; some say it has never been interested in music and never will be. Perhaps the most accurate statement, though, is that the Chinese government takes a selective interest in the music industry.

“The Chinese government’s attitude towards music and the like is different for different groups. China’s musicians, before the liberation, had an extremely low position [and] received discrimination from the entire society. Later, after the Communist regime came to power, all of the musicians and music groups within the party were afforded high political and economic status, and this kind of establishment has preserved until now,” explains Lu of AV Okubo. “Various arts organizations related to the government’s Ministry of Culture enjoy direct funding: salary, housing, insurance, and medical benefits. Right now our Madame President is a soprano vocalist in China’s famous musical ensembles; she is the rank of Major General. The government’s attitude towards rock n’ roll music is: no opposition, no support.”


“中国政府对于音乐种类和不同音乐团体的态度是不同的,中国的音乐家在解放前的地位是极其低下的,受到全社会的歧视,后来共产党政权上台后,将音乐家以及音乐团体全部纳入了体制内,给予了很高的政治地位以及经济地位,而这种编制一直维持到了现在,各个属于政府的文艺团体全部享受文化部的直接拨款:薪金、住房、保险以及医疗福利,我们现在的主席夫人就是一位女高音歌唱家,隶属于中国总政歌舞团,她的军衔是少将。 而政府对于摇滚乐的态度是:不反对,不支持,”AV大久保乐队的陆炎说。

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