Jonathan P. J. Stock

in Chinese Studies

ISBN: 9780199920082
Published online April 2013 | | DOI:

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  • East Asian Studies
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China is recognized as a preeminent center of industrial and economic productivity. Its modern cultural life remains less well-known overseas but is equally vibrant, and the broad category of Chinese music includes a vast panoply of styles and usages: ancient and new; folk and elite; commercial and ritualistic; indigenous, imported, and increasingly exported. There are few stylistic commonalities in all this music as a whole, a point that is unsurprising given the size and diversity of the Chinese population. Nevertheless, there are quite a number of distinctive Chinese elements, including a body of ideas about music theory and particular systems of musical notation, musical instruments, and musical genres. In exploring elements such as these, which retain a strong Chinese identity, this article takes a broad view on Chinese musical culture, seeking to illustrate major trends and characteristics of actual practice. This practice includes the adoption and naturalization of genres and instruments from overseas, and the music making of ethnic groups residing within China beside the majority Han Chinese. This bibliography provides a pathway into research in this vast field, noting some of the most essential sources for scholarship on music in China. Primarily English sources are cited because this is an English-language resource, but it should be emphasized that there is far more research on this topic published in Chinese than in any other language. Any in-depth study will require a working knowledge of Chinese or collaboration with Chinese culture bearers. Most if not all the Western-language sources included here cite key Chinese sources in their references. After a look at general reference sources and accessible overviews, sources on music history are explored. These first sections provide an overview of the field of Chinese music. Space is then given to annotation of research sources on a cross section of musical genres and instruments, with some focus on the modern situation. It is not practical to cover here every significant form of music making in China (or among Chinese living overseas), but those selected exemplify the full range of music, from historical to present day, from urban as well as rural settings, and from across the amateur-professional spectrum. A final section presents research on crosscutting issues in Chinese musical scholarship, primarily to signal the numerous directions that remain open to further research.

Article.  8468 words. 

Subjects: East Asian Studies ; Asian History ; East Asian Philosophy ; East Asian Religions

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