Western Influence on Chinese Music
China has long been the cultural hub of Asia, and has had the longest amount of contact of any Asian country with other Western countries. Ever since the Silk Road was established, China has been trading with other Western countries and exchanging aspects of their cultures with one another. One of these aspects is music. But how exactly has Western music influenced Chinese music? In order to understand this, we must look at the history of Western encounters with China in terms of music.
European music was first introduced into China during the thirteenth century, which was part of the Yuan dynasty of China. Catholic missionaries introduced Western music to the Chinese imperial court. Soon, the
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This was the beginning of Chinese contemporary music. The founder of this style of music is Chou Wen-Chung, who was a Chinese composer that based his compositions on the Western avant-garde music style. Instead of just using Chinese musical elements like the pentatonic scale and the folk song melody, he used elements of Chinese tradition, folklore, and history in his compositions. He was a very influential composer of Chinese contemporary music, and many composers of the “New Wave” went to the United States to study with him in Columbia University. The New Wave composers were composers like Chou that studied the Western avant-garde style, and they emerged after the fall of the Gang of Four in China, during that period when the Gang of Four banned many Chinese and Western instruments. The most famous of these composers, Tan Dun, produced many famous compositions that mixed Chinese and Western elements together, one of which was the soundtrack for the Chinese movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. This resulted in his score winning an Academy award and a Grammy award, and launched the popularity of his music worldwide.
While Chinese contemporary musicians utilized many Western instruments, such as the violin and the clarinet, none of these instruments made an impact on Chinese music as much as the piano. When it was introduced, the Chinese were fascinated by it. Its