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CHIME Newsletter No. 20 

24 December 2015


Newsletter of CHIME, European Foundation for Chinese Music Research

 CHIME News                                                                                              
Lively 19th Chime in Geneva –
looking back at a wonderful event!


Unexpected encounters, cheerful memories and remarkable new insights – many of us had something to cherish after this autumn's Chime meeting in Geneva on 'The New Face of Chinese Music'. Roughly one hundred scholars, musicians and aficionados of Chinese music gathered in the prestigious concert hall of the Haute Ecole de Musique on Wednesday 21 October 2015 for a four-day conference on new developments in Chinese music. They joined panels, discussions, paper sessions or concerts devoted to the topic of 'where is Chinese music going'. They argued about the fine dividing lines between Kunst and Kitsch, between 'genuine' tradition and commercial entertainment, between yesterday and tomorrow. Naturally no absolute answers emerged from this meeting, but the paper sessions, debates and films offered plenty of food for thought. Fifteen brief film clips with statements by prominent composers, musicians and music scholars from China which served as interesting eye-openers during the meeting can now be watched on the Chime website (check here). For a generous selection of photos of the conference (mostly taken by Liu Qian), check here.



Call for (written) papers from the CHIME conference in Geneva


Participants in the Geneva meeting interested in offering their presentations for possible publication in the CHIME journal are kindly requested to submit an edited version of their paper in electronic form to Frank Kouwenhoven at

All papers will be judged by the Editorial Board and by two peer referees within three months after submission. Please provide tables, illustrations and glossaries in separate files, not as part of your main text document.

For the style and length of Chime contributions, you can consult back issues of the journal, e.g. Chime Journal 2013. The deadline for submissions to next year's journal is 1 July 2016.

CHIME Workshop on Music Education in China

Hamburg (Germany), 17-20 November 2016



From 17 to 20 November 2016, the Confucius Institute at the University of Hamburg and other educational institutes in that city will join forces with CHIME to launch a workshop on Music Education in China. The idea is a three-day workshop in which a limited number of invited presenters will contribute papers and performances. Most participants will be self-paid or will need to apply for grants from their own institutions, as with the annual bigger CHIME conferences. However, since we are at the initial stage of preparing this meeting, we explicitly wish to encourage scholars or musicians who are interested in joing this meeting (and in presenting a contribution) to contact us and to tell us informally about their own projects and ideas. (You can get in touch with Frank Kouwenhoven at, or with Carsten Krause at

Hamburg seems an eminent location for tackling this topic, due to the concentration of Chinese music students, and the presence of several academic institutions with close links with China. 



Call for papers: 20th CHIME on 'Festivals' 

Los Angeles, 29 March-2 April 2017



The word is out: for the 20th anniversary of the annual international CHIME Conference we have chosen a festive theme and a festive season – Spring 2017 – and been offered a wonderful venue to match the occasion: the  University of California,  Los Angeles. The 20th CHIME meeting will take place there from Wednesday 29 March to Sunday 2 April 2017, under the auspices of the Department of Ethnomusicology. We invite (and we will give preference to) papers, panels and posters on the main theme of the meeting, 'Chinese and East Asian music in Festivals'. Additionally, we will invite presentations about on-going research on other aspects of Chinese and East Asian music.

Last call for special Chime volume on Storysinging / storytelling in China 


The planned volume of the CHIME journal on Chinese storytelling and storysinging is coming along nicely, with a growing pile of well-written and substantial papers now lying ready for editing. Not everyone who joined last year's CHIME workshop in Venice on this topic has responded, though, so we would like to make a last concerned effort to get the remaining excellent speakers on board of the ship! 


Scholars who did not make it to the event, but who are interested to contribute, are encouraged to contact us and to submit additional papers. Articles should not exceed 8,000 words in length. For the style of Chime contributions, please consult back issues of the journal on the Chime website. We have shifted the deadline to 1 March 2016, since for practical reasons we can only start the editing process by that date, but that will definitely be the final date for submitting! You can send contributions or queries to the Editor of CHIME, Frank Kouwenhoven, at

Two-day joint CCCM/CHIME forum on Chinese music

Lisbon, Portugal, 23-24 May 2016



The Macau Scientific and Cultural Centre (CCCM) in Lisbon, Portugal plans to host a two-day forum on Chinese music and musical instruments on 23 and 24 May 2016 in Lisbon. The event will be organized in cooperation with the Chime Foundation, with possible support from Fundação Jorge Álvares. The primary idea is to invite a small number of Chinese music specialists to bring this field to the attention of music scholars, students and musicians in Portugese universities, music conservatories and academies. A similar event can hopefully be hosted in 2017, as the upbeat to a full-fledged CHIME conference, to take place at CCM in Lisbon in the summer of 2018.

More on conferences                                                                                 
Call for papers Chinoperl

Seattle, USA, 31 March 2016



The 2016 CHINOPERL International Conference will be held on Thursday, March 31, 2016 in Seattle, USA. The conference committee welcomes submissions of papers on topics relating to Chinese oral and performing literature. Presentations at the annual meeting may be delivered in English or Chinese. Individual paper abstracts or panel proposals to be considered for presentation should be sent to Professor Wenwei Du: Abstract/proposal submission deadline:  December 20, 2015.  CHINOPERL (Chinese Oral and Performing Literature)’s website is located at:

Meeting on Chinese folk music theory
in honour of Yuan Jinfang 

Beijing, 6-8 May 2016




From 6 to 8 May 2016, the Music Department of the Central Conservatory of Music will organize a three-day symposium in honour of the well-known musicologist, educator, senior professor of the Music Department, and former Dean of the Conservatory, Professor Yuan Jingfang (袁静芳), who will celebrate her 80th birthday in 2016. Professor Yuan carried out extensive research on traditional Chinese music and produced a substantial body of writings in the realm of Chinese traditional music theory. She has also trained and guided an entire generation of youngers scholars in this field in China. Not surprisingly, the realm of Chinese folk music theory research will be the focus of the symposium. 

 Music Research                                                                                        
Major archeological musical finds near Nanchang 


Archeologists in Jiangxi Province in China have unearthed a 2,000-year old burial site in a village near Jiangxi's capital city Nanchang, and reported the retrieval of some 10,000 pieces of relics. Objects discovered at Guanxi village (观西村) include five painted chariots, scattered remains of the skeletons of twenty horses, hundreds of thousands of strips of bamboo and wood with ancient writings, lacquerware, a huge amount of coins, two fine sets of bronze chime bells, a set of iron chimes – unique since all other chime-stone sets unearthed in China so far were of clay or stone – as well as flutes, pipes, a qin zither, a harp, numerous sculpted figurines of musicians –which evoke a lively image of musical rituals during the Western Han Dynasty – and numerous other objects.

Some experts claim that the site is a more spectacular evocation of aristocatic life during the Western Han Dynasty (206 BCE – 9 CE) than the famous Mawangdui tombs of Changsha in Hunan Province which date from the same period and which were excavated in 1972-1974.

Recording and video project brings music cultures of the Loess Plateau alive


Four eminent Chinese scholars and music lovers have joined forces in a recording project which they baptized 'Chinese National Music Geography'. Regretting the lack of (commercially available) high quality audio and video recordings of rural traditional music in China, and the deficiency of such materials in music education – even in the most prominent music institutes and academies in the country – the four have initiated a series of book, cd and dvd publications in order to change this.


During the last few years, musicologist Qiao Jianzhong (乔建中), composer Liu Xing (刘星), music producer Xiao Cao (小草) and young scholar Huang Hu (黄虎) have issued the first products in this series. This includes a 195-page paperback called 中国音乐地理晋陕黄土高原区 ('Chinese National Music Geography of the Jin Shaan Region on the Loess Plateau'), issued in 2014 by the Jiangsu Literature and Art Publishing House. The book was preceded by an earlier paperback on the same region in 2012, plus three CDs (totalling 205 minutes of recordings) and two DVDs (with 213 minutes of footage), which we have not been able to inspect yet. Planned by-products are various travelling (photo) exhibitions.


Three teams of scholars and technicians collected the recordings and field data in the period of July to August 2011. They travelled more than 6,000 kilometers across cities and counties in Shanxi Province, Shaanxi Province and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. The abovementioned book is illustrated with numerous photographs in colour and in black and white, and provides glimpses of a great many different genres and musical traditions in the region.ISBN 978-7-5399-6985-5.

Book on Christian ritual music among minorities in Yunnan

杨民康 (Yang Minkang) – 本土化与现代性:云南少数民族基督教仪式音乐研究

'Localization and Modernity: Yunnan Minority Christian Ritual Music Research'

Issued by: Zongjiao wenhua chubanshe (Religious Culture Publishing House), Beijing, 2013, 271 pp. ISBN 9787801239884.


This book reviews the history and socio-cultural backgrounds of Christianity and Christian music in Yunnan Province, as well as cross-cultural relationships in this realm between Yunnan and adjacent cultures, such as those of Thailand, Myanmar and other nearby countries and regions. The book focuses in particular on the two themes of  'localization' and 'modernity'. 


After an introductory chapter, which discusses the cultural significance of the book's topic , the second chapter offers a chronological survey of the beginnings and historical development of Christian music in Yunnan. The third chapter analyzes relations between Christian music and aboriginal music cultures in Yunnan. The fourth chapter describes the inheritance and disemmination of various specific types of Christian music in Yunnan in more detail, while the fifth chapter focuses specifically on ritual music. Two further chapters are devoted to Christian hymns, offering musical analysis, and classification and discussion of genres, structures and patterns. Chapters eight to thirteen discuss the nature of regional Christian music cultures in Yunnan's minority settlements, and the last chapter offers a summary and a discussion on the two topics, "localization" and "globalization" , and ponder the situation of Christian music culture during contemporary era.


Village ceremonial music regaining its voice after the Cultural Revolution 

乔建中 (Qiao Jianzhong) – 望——一位老农在28年间守护一个民间乐社的口述史

'An Oral History of How one Old Farmer Guarded the Interests of a Rural Folk Musical Association during 28 Years' 

Published by: Zhongyang bianyi chubanshe, Beijing, 2014, 275 pp. ISBN 9787511723277


This book is an oral history of Lin Zhongshu, a 74-year old farmer and vice head of Qujiaying Village, Rangdian Town, Guan County, Langfang City, Hebei Province, who in the 1980s, following the terror of the Cultural Revolution, went to great lengths to help revive the ceremonial music of the local village association, at a time when it was far from clear if this would not lead once again to violent repression.


In the autumn of 1985, several members of the local village association were eager to restore the ceremonial music they had learned from elder generations. But fearful of new repression, following the recent terrors of the Cultural Revolution, they turned to Lin Zhongshu for help. Could they be allowed to play again? If not, they would smash their instruments and sell them as scrap copper. If yes, they would resume their old practice. Lin did not dare to give an answer, but went to the county and even national governments to find out more. Through interviews, and a close examination of hundreds of local newspaper writings, inscriptions, name cards and other sources and documents (many of them reproduced in the book), the eminent ethnomusicologist Qiao Jianzhong has traced the story of Lin's efforts to get the ceremonial music of Qujiaying village going again. He reports on how this farmer ultimately managed to guard and promote the interests of his village musicians over a period of 28 years. Qiao Jianzhong produced a moving and important testimony of rural music life in times of social upheaval and political uncertainty.

Books on the semantics and aesthetics of Chinese music 

Two independent academic publications dealing in detail with the semantics and esthetics of Chinese music have appeared almost simultaneously this year. One is Adrien Tien's The Semantics of Chinese Music; issued by John Benjamin's Publishing Company, Amsterdam/Philadelphia, 2015, 303 pp. It has Chinese characters in the main text; appendices, a bibliography, and a brief index. It can be ordered via  The other book is Véronique Alexandre Journeau's Poétique de la musique chinoise, with a préface by Rémi Mathieu.; issued by L'Harmattan, 'L'univers esthétique', Paris, 2015, 443 pp, ISBN : 978-2-343-05903-7, price 39 €. For more info or for ordering, check

Both publications cover  a lot of new ground for western readers and to tackle a much underestimated realm of interest. We expect to review these books in the CHIME Journal.

Some other recent publications of interest


Altenburger, Ronald, with Margaret B. Wan and Vibeke Børdahl – Yangzhou. A Place in Literature, The Local in Chinese Cultural History. University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, 2015, 510 pp Hardback, ISBN 978-0-8248-3988-8. Index, glossary, references.

This volume is the most recent material result of the cooperation of an international group of scholars that calls itself 'The Yangzhou Club', and whose research deals with the cultural history of the city of Yangzhou. An earlier volume was published with NIAS Press in 2009. The present book includes substantial chapters on local storytelling, popular theatre, village theatreand related topics. Highly recommended!



Winzenburg, John (compiler/editor) – Half Moon Rising. Choral Music from Mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan. An anthology of choral pieces for SATB chorus and piano, published with 1 CD by Edition Peters, London 2015, 234 pp. ISMN 979-0-57700-908-7.

The scores are in Western staff notation, lyrics in pinyin (with a pronunciation guide) and in English translation, with elaborate introductions in English to every one of the 24 songs contained in the book.



Tōru Mitsui, ed. 2014. Made in Japan: Studies in Popular Music. New York: Routledge. 254pp. ISBN 978-0-415-63757-2 (hbk)



Howard, Keith (2015) SamulNori: Korean Percussion for a Contemporary World. Farnham: Ashgate Publishers, SOAS Musicology Series, London, 230 pp, b&w illustrations and music examples. Hardback, ISBN 978-1-4724-6289-3.



Michael Church (ed.) – The Other Classical Musics. Fifteen Great Traditions. The Boydel Press, Woodbridge, 2015, hardback, 404 pp. Amply illustrated (colour and bl/w photos), music examples, references, index, suggestions for recommended reading and further listening. 

This book positions great musical traditions from the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, the Far East, and Southeast Asia next to Western classical music and addresses the pertinent question 'What is classical music?' Fifteen chapters offer broad introductions for a non-expert audience into a range of important regional music traditions. These include two chapters on Chinese music (guqin and Chinese opera). There are explorations into a wealth of other musical realms, from North American jazz to Turkish or Iranian music, from Thailand to North India and beyond.

 People In Music                                                                                         
Composer Jin Xiang dies at 80

The Chinese composer and conductor Jin Xiang (金湘) died from illness in Beijing yesterday at the age of 80. Jin Xiang was best known in China as a composer of operas in a broad sweeping romantic style, often based on traditional Chinese stories. He also wrote chamber, vocal and orchestral works as well as scores for cinema and television, and infused his style with Chinese pentatonicism as well as with tinges of 20th century western modernism. The Savage Land (原野), an opera based on a 1937 play by Cao Yu, and written in 1987 remains his best known work, written in  a kind of Chinese verismo-style, reminiscent of Russian opera, but also permuted by Chinese elements. Among his other operas are Beautiful Warrior (2001), Yang Guifei (2004) and Eight Women Jump into the River (2005). Jin Xiang was born in 1935 in Nanjing and studied composition at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing under Chen Peixun, graduating in 1959. In the 1960s he was labelled a rightist and was sent to Tibet, where he lead a folk musical ensemble, before being sent on to Urümqi in Xinjiang, where he continued his conducting activities but also had to carry out compulsory farm labour. After the Cultural Revolution he returned to Beijing and became conductor and composer in residence of the Beijing Symphony Orchestra (1979-1984) and taught composition at the Central Conservatory. From 1988 he continued his career in America as a visiting scholar at the University of Washington in Seattle. In 1992 he spent a year as a visiting scholar at the Juilliard School of Music. He was also composer in residence at the Washington National Opera, before returning to China to compose and to teach. His musical style had become more eclectic in the meantime. He worked as Art Director for the Chinese Ministry of Culture from 1994-1995, and founded an East-West Music Exchange Association to promote the exchange between eastern and western music. Jin Xiang wrote music for both western and Chinese instruments (including a String Quartet (1990) and a Chamber Concerto for 14 instruments, and he was also active as a choral composer.

In memoriam Yu Runyang (1932-2015)

The distinguished musicologist Professor Yu Runyang, long-time Editor of the music journal Yinyue yanjiu (Music Study) and former president of the Central Conservatory of Music (in the period 1988-1992) died from illness on 23 September this year. Yu started off as a composition student at the Central Conservatory in 1952, and continued studying Musicology at the University of Warsaw in Poland from 1956 onwards. He returned to Beijing in 1960, and was active as an editor and leader at the Central Conservatory. He taught numerous courses in Universities all over China. As a scholar his focus was on the history of Western music and on music aesthetics, and he travelled extensively in wider Asia, Europe and the United States. He published numerous articles and monographs in Chinese, including Historiographical Essays of Music Aesthetics (1986), Study on Music Historiography (1997), An Introduction to Modern Western Music Philosophy (2000), and New Approaches to Music Aesthetics (1994). He was one of the chief editors of a General History of Western Music (alsoi in Chinese, 2001), and was awarded several state prizes for his academic activities.

Han Mei new Director of Center for Chinese Music in Tennessee


Dr. Mei Han (Ph.D. University of British Columbia) has been appointed as the founding Director of the Center for Chinese Music and Culture at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Dr. Han will create and oversee a new museum of Chinese musical instruments, library, concert series and lecture series with a focus on intercultural education and understanding. She will also teach Ethnomusicology and direct a Chinese Music Ensemble as a tenured Associate Professor at the MTSU School of Music. Dr. Han Ph.D. is also widely known as a concert performer on the Chinese zheng.

Lin Zaiyong new Director of the Shanghai Conservatory


Lin Zaiyong (林在勇) has been formally appointed as the new Director of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. Mr Lin, a native of Shanghai, was already acting as the institute's interrim Head and – since 2013 – as the Conservatory's Secretary of the Party Committee. These functions are normally separate, but after protracted problems in finding an appropriate replacement candidate for Lin's predecessor Xu Shuya, Mr Lin was chosen to fulfill both functions. Mr Xu Shuya, an internationally acclaimed composer of  contemporary Chinese music, stepped down already some time ago. The 50-year old Lin forms a notable contrast to his predecessor: he studied Chinese Language and Literature as well as Philosophy at East China Normal University and is probably more at home in ancient Chinese culture than in (new) Chinese music. He was previously active as an Associate Professor of the Department of Chinese Language and Literature at East China Normal University (1994-97) and gained leadership experience as Deputy Dean of The School of Humanities and Social Sciences (1997-2001) and as Vice President of East China Normal University (from 2007). He has been active as a (Deputy) Party Secretary in various institutions since 2004.

Uyghur singer Perhat Khaliq wins Prins Claus Award


This autumn, the 33-year old Uyghur singer, guitar player and band leader Perhat Khaliq from Urumqi was one of the 2015 laureates of the Dutch Prince Claus Foundation. He received the award for 'breathing new life into traditional Uyghur forms.' Perhat Khaliq performs a mix of traditional mukam tunes, rock and blues, and counts Bob Dylan among his major inspirations. His gravely, deeply passionate voice perfectly suits the melancholy songs for which he is best known. Perhat lost both his parents and brother through illnesses, and his lyrics tell stories of heartbreak, perseverance and longing for freedom. 

Only a few years ago, he was performing mainly in the smoky interiors of local bars in his hometown Urumqi, the capital city of Xinjiang. After being invited to perform at a festival in Osnabrück in 2010, his career skyrocketed, not just in Europe but also at home. He received invitations to perform in Turkey, The Netherlands and elsewhere, his first CD album was released in 2013 (Qetic: Rock from the Taklamakan Desert), and German producer Michael Dreyer managed, after long deliberations, to persuade Perhat to join the popular Chinese TV contest 'The Voice of China' in 2014, in which he gained the 2nd Prize. Contrary to his own expectations, it made him a star in China, although Perhat hardly lives up to the standard image of happy harmonious Uyghurs promoted by the Chinese authorities. The online video of his audition in the show (where, a typically, he sang a song in Chinese) was watched by netizens more than 415 million times.  


Perhat generally has to walk a fine line to be allowed to travel abroad and to continue performing in his own unique style. Amongst other things, he must refrain from any political statements while touring abroad. He recently initiated a rock festival in Urumqi which features rock from Xinjiang, Kazakhstan and China.  Last winter, the police in Urumqi invited him to visit a jail and to play for the inmates. He wrote a special song for that occasion, and according to Perhat half of the inmates were in tears  when he sang it.

North Korean music groups call off three concerts in Beijing


Two North Korean music ensembles called off a series of concerts in Beijing just hours before they were expected to go on stage on 12 December. The musicians abruptly returned home the same day. The incident hints at on-going diplomatic tensions between North Korea and China. China's relations with North Korea have deteriorated in the past five years, notably in the wake of that country's third nuclear tests of 2013 and ensuing threats of war with South Korea.


The two music groups – which were caught sneaking out of Bejing by Voice of America reporters – were the 18-member female pop band Moranbong (Mudanfeng 牡丹峰) and the Merit (Gongxun 功勋) National Choir. The groups cancelled a series of three joint concerts in Beijing just three hours before their first show was scheduled to begin. The musicians had only arrived at Beijing's International Airport a few hours earlier, and they returned home, dressed in North Korean military garb, on a North Korean plane the same day.


 Events, Institutions, Media                                                                                                

Central Conservatory of Music celebrates  75th Anniversary in grand style


The Central Conservatory of Music (CCOM) in Beijing currently commemorates its 75th anniversary. The Conservatory was founded in 1950, and held a large scale celebration from 1–10 November, featuring an academic forum, masterclasses, an exhibition and many musical events featuring prestigious teachers and alumni of the institution, including two gala concerts in Beijing’s National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA). The entire programme was extremely well-organized, refreshing, audacious in its approach, showing CCOM at its very best. And this at politically conservative times, and under the gloomy sky of Beijing's smog... The Conservatory is widely regarded as the number one top-level music educational institute in China, and it easily lives up to this reputation. It certainly did so during the celebrations, as CCOM managed to create a relaxed and truly festive atmosphere, and offered a remarkably powerful programme. Native and foreign visitors alike were duly impressed!

Field recordings of music in China by Tash Music & Archives (Beijing) 

Ethnomusicologist Xiaoshi Andrew Wei and five colleagues at Tash Music & Archives in Beijing have initiated a fine series of carefully documented CD soiund recordings and videos of traditional and ethnic music in China. The Tash archives were established in 2012 in Beijing with the aim of creating high quality and well documented recordings in this realm. Tash also wants to focus on the music of Turkish groups in China, archival recordings, oral narratives and language recordings. Amongst others, they have issued CDs with Quarry ballads from Sichuan stone workers, music of the Tibetan Community at Dêqên County, as well as folksongs of the Uzbek Communities of Xinjiang. Further projects, such as albums of boatmen songs and local folk songs from Sichuan are currently being prepared. Tash cooperates with prominent ethnomusicologists and cultural experts inside China and internationally, but also with committed local collectors in the field. For more on Tash (塔石) and for ordering their products, please check  their website:

Chinese music at the OAI in Bonn

The East Asia Institute (Ost-Asien-Institut, OAI) in Bonn has initiated the founding of a Kuratorium to promote and enhance its on-going musical and musicological exchange with mainland China and Taiwan. The Kuratorium will serve as the OAI's Advisory Board for activities in realm. Its members will include Drs Huang Chun-Zen (Taipei), Frank Kouwenhoven (Leiden). Barbara Mittler (Heidelberg), and François Picard (Paris). The Board will be formally established on 11 November 2016 in conjunction with a musicological workshop and concert o Chinese music. Further announcements on this will follow.

CHIME Newsletter No. 20, December 2015


Frank Kouwenhoven, Bi Yifei, Zhang Mingming, Zhang Ting prepared this edition of the Chime Newsletter, with contributions by Li Huaqi, Xavier Bouvier, Jiang Shan, Liu Hongchi and Yang Yiran.

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