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Live Concert of Lee Hom Wang Essay


Lee Hom Wang is a well-known American singer and songwriter of Chinese origin. The attendance of the concerts of his Heroes of Earth Tour broke the records. One of the concerts of Wang’s world tour took place at Singapore Indoor Stadium on 21 October 2006.

The musical style of this singer combines the elements of Chinese music with the features of traditional hip hop and R&B. Wang even coined a special term for describing his music and defines it as chinked-out style, emphasizing his ethnic origin.

“This music style has eliminated the original negative meaning attached to ‘chink’, and constructed a more positive image of China and Chinese culture as well as the Chinese identity of the singer himself” (Han 98).

A talented songwriter created an original music style for the purpose of not only demonstrating his skills and entertaining the audience but also for supporting the positive image of Chinese culture and people and struggling against the existing misconceptions in the American community.

Wang is recognized as the second after Bruce Lee global Chinese star whose efforts contributed to the establishment of the positive image of Chinese culture and people (Jurriens, Edwin and de Kloet 100).

His musical style differs from the album to the album which can be explained with Wang’s professional development and constant modifications in the aesthetics of his Chinked-out style. Starting his career as a singer of traditional pop songs and rock ballads, later he worked in the frames of dance pop and introduced the elements of electric guitar into his works.

The release of the album Shangri-La indicated the beginning of his work on the Chinked-out style in music when he integrated the components of R&B, hip hop and rap with the influence of the Chinese motifs. The following album Heroes of Earth meant the following stage of the development of the Chinked-out style showing a new side of the traditional Chinese music.

The use of new music instruments along with the motifs from Beijing opera, Wang continued drawing the public attention to the beauty of Chinese culture and national music. Within the recent years, there was a tendency for exploring music styles from geographic and ethnic perspectives (Johansson and Bell 146).

The analysis of the original Chinked-out musical style of Lee Hom Wang which he developed and implemented in his works requires taking into account Wang’s ethnical origin and the Chinese element in his music.

Considering the complex character of the album Heroes of Earth which became the basis for the concert under analysis as well as the intention of the author to integrate the elements of Chinese music themes with the modern popular tendencies, the concert was polyphonic.

The use of variety of Chinese music instruments and the development of two or more melodic voices can be explained with Wang’s original chinked-out style which was implemented in this concert. The infusion of various music themes did not allow using a monophonic texture for the works which were performed during the concert (Ferris 196).

The combination of the styles required proper instrumentation for realization of the author’s ideas and the acquisition of the necessary equipment for the concert was a significant part of preparation for it.

Erhu, guqin and guzheng are only some of the Chinese instruments which were used for the live performance for the purpose of integrating the elements of Beijing opera into the songs and introducing the Chinese element into the works. The new side of the chinked-out style generated the interest of the audience in the Chinese music and culture in general.

The view of the traditional Chinese instruments influenced the listeners’ perception of the music themes, making them to pay special attention to the role of the Chinese sounds in the development of the overall theme.

The present and the past met in this Wang’s concert, proving that there are neither national nor historic limitations for the world of music and its language is understandable for the audience not requiring any translations or additional information.

On the one hand, the polyphonic texture and the development of several voices can be explained with the author’s focus on the integration of the Chinese element into the performance for the purpose of supporting the positive brand of Chinese culture.

On the other hand, this approach added some special appeal to the concert and made Wang’s works stand out from the crowd of the rest of contemporary performers. It is obvious that the audience had never heard anything of the kind before and the life performance became a memorable experience for the listeners.

The performance impressed me greatly with the originality of the Chinked-out style of the songs and the author’s ability to combine the different components for creating a whole. It is amazing that Wang’s talent allowed him not only to pursue his primary goal of positive branding of Chinese music but also to create beautiful music which appeals to listeners’ feelings.

The integration of the Chinese element into the songs seemed to be so harmonious that the development of several voices contributed to the realization of the main idea. The combination of different elements did not create the effect of contrasting because the voices became complimentary in the musical whole.

Wang’s mission of presenting the beauty of Chinese culture to the wide audience was realized successfully, taking into account my curiosity in his chinked-out style in music and Beijing opera which was used by the author for writing the songs of the album Heroes of Earth.

I was especially impressed with the composition “Gai Shi Yin Xiong” which consists of the fragments of various songs and can be defined a mix of different sounds which form one. Starting as a hip hop track, this tune of the song changes after the introduction of the chorus and the rap extract at the end of the composition.

Surprisingly, despite the distinct differences in the separate fragments of the song, all of them became the integral elements of the single composition, demonstrating the unlimited opportunities of mixing the styles as well as using the polyphonic textures in contemporary music. The ballads “Kiss Goodbye” and “Di Yi Ce Quing Chen” were responsible for several romantic episodes during the performance.

On the one hand, these works show how wide is the range of feelings which can be expressed by implementing the Chinked-out style. On the other hand, these songs seem to lack expressiveness. At particular moments, Wang’s voice could sound louder and more appealing. It is possible that the limitations of the voice rage of the compositions can be explained with the dominating mood of the songs.

On the other hand, Wang could have expressed his emotions using the whole strength of his voice because the rhythmic composition and the coloring of these two ballads seemed to be a bit monotonous. Despite the particular weaknesses of the performance which, however, can be explained with the peculiarities of my personal perception, the overall impression from the concert Heroes of Earth was highly positive.

The concert was welcomed with the audience which reacted positively to the majority of the compositions. On the one hand, it might seem that the polyphonic texture of the compositions and the peculiarities of the new side of the chinked out style could complicate the public perception of the audience. Still, most songs were welcomed with cheers and appreciated by grateful listeners.

Though Wang’s fans were prepared to Heroes of Earth with his previous album Shangri-La, this performance showed the new side of the chinked-out style and it was not that easy to predict the possible reaction of the audience. The unexpected experiments of the songwriter required courage and assurance in his strengths because the innovations are often met at dagger points becoming a failure with the listeners.

However, the concert under analysis was extremely successful. Though the listeners heard the most compositions for the first time during the live performance, the public reaction to them was positive. The performer managed to establish the contact with the audience and maintained it during the whole concert.

It is obvious that the personal charm of the young singer and his mood contributed to the success of the performance, making the music energizing disregarding the theme developed by the author in particular compositions. Some compositions got the audience dance while others made them sad and melancholic.

Along with showing the beauty of Beijing opera and drawing the public attention to the opportunities provided by the Chinese music themes, Wang raised the eternal questions in his concert and appealed to the personal feelings of the audience.

The atmosphere during the performance influenced the public perception of the compositions and supported the singer who tried to come up to the expectations of his fans and produce impression upon them.

As opposed to all the concerns of the critiques of the new stage of the chinked-out style in music and mixing the elements of Beijing opera with the popular styles, the concert Heroes of Earth was successful with the audience which approved Wang’s new approach to songs-writing.

I liked the concert Heroes of Earth with all its surprising mixes of styles and integration of the elements of Beijing opera and chorus into the contemporary popular music genres. The concert showed the new sides of the talent of a song writer who had composed and performed a soundtrack from the blockbuster film Spiderman (Han and Hsu 188).

Disregarding the recent tendency of using the digital technologies in Chinese music, Wang’s focus on the elements of Beijing opera preconditioned the success of his concerts with the audience (Lin 222).

It can be explained with the originality of the approach and the talent of the musician whose aesthetic taste allowed him to combine the elements of different cultures and to develop several voices in his compositions without distorting the integrity of the musical whole.

I was impressed with the author’s manner of performance of his compositions and the originality of his chinked-out style which influenced my perception of Chinese music in general.

Works Cited

Ferris, Jean. America’s Musical Landscape. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2009. Print.

Han, Arar and John Hsu (eds.) Asian American X: An Intersection of 21st century Asian American Voices. Michigan: The University of Michigan Press.

Han, Le. “The Chineseness Constructed in Leehom Wang’s ‘Chinked-Out’ Music: Hybridized Texts and Meanings of Chinese Hip-Hop”. All Academic Research Website. 2007. Web.

Johansson, Ola and Thomas Bell. Sound, Society and the Geography of Popular Music. Burlington: Ashgate, 2009. Print.

Jurriens, Edwin and Jeroen de Kloet (eds.). Cosmopatriots: On Distant Belongings and Close Encounters. New York: Colophon. 2007. Print.

Lin, Fu-Mei. Branding Strategies and Celebrity Economy: A Study of Mandarin Pop Music in the Digital Age. International Journal of Chinese Culture and Management 3 Nov. 2009. Print.

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