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Music of Hong Kong After 1945 Essay

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Updated: Jan 3rd, 2022

Introduction

Chinese music dates back to the Zhou Dynasty. Traditionally, the Chinese believed that universal harmony was sound influenced (Hong Kong Museum of History, 2002). Thus, rather than amusement, music in these ancient times was widely used to purify personal thoughts, i.e. get rid of lust and unrest. Although in ancient China a musician was not held in such high regards, it is widely known that folk songs were seriously taken by all emperors. These emperors would use songs collected by officers to find out what their subjects wanted i.e. popular folk songs would say it all in this (1122BC – 1911) era. In these times, “Yin Yueh” (music) was fundamentally part of the functioning society (Liang, 19850). A bureau of music had officially been founded in every single dynasty, state and republic in all historical times.

Hong Kong a former British colony is now one of the most influential cities in the People’s Republic of China. The music scene of this traditionally homeland for the punti, Hakka, Tanka and Hoklo ethnic Chinese group took a turn right from the entry of the British. Up to these current times, it is regarded as having a slow fade in its traditional Chinese culture and picking up on Western cultures. This same effect holds true to music especially after 1945 (Liang, 1985). This is widely attributed from the fact that Shanghai capitalists immigrated to Hong Kong after World War II along with their entertainment modes which were different from what was there previously.

Canton-Pop

Cantonese is a widely spoken language in Hong Kong. It thus doubles up as an identity for the natives and it is also a language used officially in contexts. Canton-pop on the other hand derived from the words “Cantonese pop music” can be described as a multi-million dollar music industry. It caters for its vast audiences worldwide and especially so in Hong Kong.

Being a British colony the city had better stability and thus influence inevitably came in from its western masters. The shaping of the canton-pop music was slow such that by 1970’s it was yet to make an impact. Opera pieces of Cantonese, commercial jingles, drama plays in radios and movie theme songs can be said to have formed early canton-pop. Though at infancy, major following from grassroots communities is Hong Kong had already been realized. Introduction of commercial radio stations saw slots being allocated for this music type. Major boost however came from post 1970 generation’s acceptance of Cantonese performance for example a song like “The Fatal Irony” became a hit after being broadcasted in television and radio stations. (Friesen, 1988) Such events caused a major shift by record companies and performers to produce this type of music. With different music types being produced for example love, about life etcetera. Canton-pop was fostered into Hong Kong’s music mainstream.

Mandarin-Pop

Mandarin yet another official mainland china language has Mandarin-pop named after it. This type of pop music became popular soon after World War II among the so called upper crust dwellers of Hong Kong. By 1950’s and 1960’s Mandarin-pop had already become hits in Hong Kong. This period ended with Teresa Teng’s (1953 -1995) song. However it looks likely to continue especially with constituting of Mandarin language under basic law as a standard language (School of Music Illinois, 2010).

English-Pop

English pop music has also had its presence noticed in Hong Kong. In Hong Kong however, English pop defines all western pop that have been performed in English. Sam Hui and other popular canton-pop musicians are all known to have jump stated their careers by through performance of English pop. Ray Cordeiro, a Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) disc jockey, had a major influence to the propagation of English pop. A fad was later to be sparked by a Beatles visit in 1964.Youths ended up forming pop bands and to them; this western music was without any doubt mainstream. Even though most artists nowadays perform in Cantonese and Mandarin, English imported pop music is still popular in Hong Kong (Fung, 2009).

Other Music Types

Other music types are also certainly present in Hong Kong. Music search as jazz, reggae and others are just collectively called English pop. To the people of Hong Kong, any music type from the west and not in their own language is referred to as English pop (Hong Kong Schools, 2010).

Conclusion

The most popular music types in Hong Kong are definitely Cantonese and Mandarin. Their popularity was primarily driven from the appeal they generated from the audience in Hong Kong who were intrigued by their colloquial lyrics. It is certainly interesting to note that this same favorite type of music was initially vulgar. In fact, by the views of a dweller in Honk Kong, they were by then considered a mediocre kind of art. As much as western influence reigned heavily on the type of music in the early 1950’s and 1960’s, society certainly shaped these music scenes into one that can be associated more with the local population.

References

Friesen, P. (1988). Unique Characteristics of Chinese Melody from the Western Point of View. London: Pinter Publishers.

Fung, H. (2009). Riding a Melodic Tide: The Development of Cantopop in Hong Kong. Hong Kong: Subculture Press.

Hong Kong Museum of History. (2002). The Hong Kong Story. New York: Routledge.

Hong Kong Schools. (2010), Post-War History. Web.

Liang, M. Y. (1985). Music of the Billion: An Introduction to Chinese Musical Culture. NY: Heinrichshofen.

School of Music Illinois. (2010). The History of Chinese Music. Web.

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