Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1893/202
Appears in Collections:Communications, Media and Culture eTheses
Title: The music industry and popular song in 1930s and 1940s Shanghai, a historial and stylistic analysis
Authors: Chen, Szu-Wei
Supervisor(s): Frith, Simon
Keywords: Popular music
Chinese music
Music analysis
Music history
Music industry
Shanghai studies
Issue Date: 2007
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: In 1930s and 1940s Shanghai, musicians and artists from different cultures and varied backgrounds joined and made the golden age of Shanghai popular song which suggests the beginnings of Chinese popular music in modern times. However, Shanghai popular song has long been neglected in most works about the modern history of Chinese music and remains an unexplored area in Shanghai studies. This study aims to reconstruct a historical view of the Shanghai popular music industry and make a stylistic analysis of its musical products. The research is undertaken at two levels: first, understanding the operating mechanism of the ‘platform’ and second, investigating the components of the ‘products’. By contrasting the hypothetical flowchart of the Shanghai popular music industry, details of the producing, selling and consuming processes are retrieved from various historical sources to reconstruct the industry platform. Through the first level of research, it is found that the rising new media and the flourishing entertainment industry profoundly influenced the development of Shanghai popular song. In addition, social and political changes and changes in business practices and the organisational structure of foreign record companies also contributed to the vast production, popularity and commercial success of Shanghai popular song. From the composition-performance view of song creation, the second level of research reveals that Chinese and Western musical elements both existed in the musical products. The Chinese vocal technique, Western bel canto and instruments from both musical traditions were all found in historical recordings. When ignoring the distinctive nature of pentatonicism but treating Chinese melodies as those on Western scales, Chinese-style tunes could be easily accompanied by chordal harmony. However, the Chinese heterophonic feature was lost in the Western accompaniment texture. Moreover, it is also found that the traditional rules governing the relationship between words and the melody was dismissed in Shanghai popular songwriting. The findings of this study fill in the neglected part in modern history of Chinese music and add to the literature on the under-explored musical area in Shanghai studies. Moreover, this study also demonstrates that against a map illustrating how musical products moved from record companies to consumers along with all other involved participants, the history of popular music can be rediscovered systematically by using songs as evidence, treating media material carefully and tracking down archives and surviving participants.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1893/202
Affiliation: School of Arts and Humanities
Communications, Media and Culture

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