CHIME Newsletter No. 24

Newsletter on Chinese music research, performance projects and people in Chinese music. Published by CHIME, European Foundation for Chinese Music Research —  May 2017

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Call for papers: ‘Chinese Music as cross-culture’

21st CHIME meeting, Lisbon, Portugal, 9-13 May 2018
Macau Scientific & Cultural Centre & University of Lisbon

From 9 to 13 May 2018, the 21st International meeting of CHIME, a worldwide platform of scholars and aficionados of Chinese music, will be hosted by the Macau Scientific and Cultural Centre (CCCM) in Lisbon, in Portugal. This lively event, with panels, films, paper sessions, concerts, workshops and exhibitions, is organized in close cooperation with the Ethnomusicology Institute of the New University of Lisbon and the Confucius Institute of the University of Lisbon.

We stepped up our exchanges with colleagues in Lisbon during several small-scale seminars in the past few years… We are now ready for a major international gathering, and for a passionate confluence of musical spirits and talents in the wonderful ambiance of thriving, coastal Lisbon. The event will take place, once again, under the patronage of Fundação Jorge Álvares.

We picked a suitably broad and challenging overall theme for the occasion: Chinese music as cross-culture. We invite students, scholars and artists in the realm of Chinese music to submit proposals for individual papers or panels, or posters about this theme (for more on this theme, see further down below).

For this event, we explicitly promote and support poster presentations, and will allot ample space and time to one or more poster sessions – which will not be held in parallel with other events. The posters will take pride of place in our programme. This not only because we expect an unusually big number of participants, whom we wish to accommodate as much as possible, but also because we think posters are an ideal format for presenting first-rate research: posters allow presenters to speak about their topic for much longer than in any paper format, and there is also more time for questions and debate. We hope to turn the floors of CCCM into a lively ‘market’ space, where the crowd can move around freely and individually, and presenters will introduce their research on posters (with photos, graphs, music notations etc), and with the help of music and film samples on laptops.

Naturally, there will also be ample room for conventional papers, and for concerts and demonstrations by a truly fine range of prominent musicians and ensembles from rural and urban China. Whether you are in for very traditional Chinese sounds, or for a bout of Portuguese fado in Chinese guise, whether you like small-scale musicking or prefer ‘big bands’ and surprises, you will find something of interest in our upcoming Lisbon meeting.

The main theme: Chinese music as cross-culture

In his pivotal book on Culture (1999), the anthropologist Adam Kuper argues that all culture is cross-culture: separating out any cultural sphere and treating it entirely in its own terms is a poor strategy, claims Kuper, because it tends to draw attention away from what human beings have in common, instead of encouraging us to communicate across national, regional, ethnic and religious boundaries, and to venture between them.

So how can we relate this to Chinese music? Evidently, a great deal of Chinese urban music-making today shows major influences from Western (especially pop and classical) music, and the same could be said of many rural genres of Chinese music. But there is not just ‘the West’, and there is not just one-way traffic in music. Throughout the centuries China has maintained extensive cultural relationships with other parts of Asia. And the country itself is a vast and varied territory, in ethnic, religious, geographical and cultural terms. Numerous factors have brought about – and are still shaping –local, regional and supposedly ‘national’ styles and musical alliances. It needs a keen observing eye to discern the complexities of any performing tradition, also on micro-levels.

In the upcoming CHIME meeting in Lisbon, we wish to explore Chinese music from this perspective, across the entire spectrum of musical genres, from ancient court music and other genres from the remote past to present-day Chinese pop, rock and jazz. The challenge is to discern how different influences have shaped specific genres – not just in urban contexts, but also within local rural and supposedly ethnically or culturally ‘homegeneic’ traditions. How did local musical artists exert mutual influence? How did local ‘schools’ or ‘styles’ of music develop in mutual interaction? Our basic point of departure is that all Chinese music (like all other music) is ‘cross-culture’.

One specific focus will be musical instruments, bearing in mind that so many musical instruments now viewed as ‘Chinese’ were originally imported from abroad, or did eventually travel elsewhere – to Asia, to the West, including to the shores of Portugal and beyond.

During the Lisbon CHIME meeting, the Macau Cultural and Scientific Centre will proudly present an exhibition of Chinese and Asian musical instruments from its own collection as well as from other collections present in Portugal.

Another subtheme explored in this conference will be the musico-cultural relations between Portugal and wider Asia, more specifically with China. Last but not least, we remain, as in every year’s meeting, a platform for presentations about on-going research in Chinese music.

Submission of abstracts

The Programme Committee for the Lisbon Meeting consists of Enio de Souza (CCCM), Frank Kouwenhoven (CHIME), François Picard (Université Paris-Sorbonne), Helen Rees (UCLA) and Shao Ling (Universidade de Aveiro). Abstracts of around 300 words are invited for individual posters or for twenty-minute presentations on the conference theme. (Please indicate specifically if you are not willing to offer your presentation as a poster, and can only present it as a spoken 20-minute lecture).

Proposers may also submit panel sessions of a maximum of 120 minutes (including discussion). In this case, an abstract of around 300 words should detail the focus of the panel as a whole, with abstracts of 100-200 words for each contribution. The deadline for submission of abstracts is 31 October, 2017. Notification of acceptance or rejection will take place by 31 January, 2018. An early acceptance policy will be implemented for those in need of conference confirmation for grant or visa applications.

All abstracts should be forwarded to the Programme Committee of the 21st Chime meeting, c/o Frank Kouwenhoven, Email:



Conference on (East Asian) tuning systems, 22-25 Sept, Kunming

From 22 to 25 September, 2017, the 12th Annual Meeting of The East Asian Society for Musical Tuning Systems (东亚乐律学会) will be held at Yunnan University in Kunming, China. From 24 to 25 September, 2017, the Kunming International Symposium of Indigenous Arts will also be hold at the same venue. Those who are interested in participating, are invited to submit an abstract for a paper presentation by 1 July 2017 to Local accommodations will be covered by the organizer for those whose abstracts are accepted. For more information, you can contact Professor Yu Hui (喻辉), Dean of Arts and Design at Yunnan University, email:

Meeting was held in Yunnan on minority music (2016)

From 11 to 15 November, 2016, the Yunnan University College of Arts and Design in China hosted the International Symposium for Ethnomusicology and Music of Ethnic Minorities in Yunnan. More than 60 scholars from United States, Denmark, Ireland, Germany, Korea and China attended the symposium. During the two-day conference, participants discussed the new methodologies in Ethnomusicology and the trends in researches of music of ethnic minorities in Yunnan. Music of Southeast Asian countries bordering the province has also drew much attention by the scholars. The ceremony of the establishment of The Center for Ethnomusicology of Yunnan University was also hold during the conference. The center starts to recruit Ph.D. Students in Ethnomusicology under the University’s anthropology program from 2018, for those who are interested please contact us via email message at .


MFC Composition Prize 2017 (New York)

Applications are welcome for the 2017 Music From China International Composition Prize. Music From China is an ensemble of prominent players of Chinese traditional instruments based in New York. The purpose of the prize is to promote and encourage the composition of new music for Chinese instruments alone or with Western instruments. The award consists of USD 1,000 plus a world premiere of the piece on 4 November in New York City. The submission deadline is 15 August, 2017. To apply, one can download guidelines plus application form at:


China ‘Right & Left’’ US tour (Gu Jiani, Chinese contemporary dance)

In her signature programme ‘Right & Left’, China’s award-winning choreographer Gu Jiani, according to the billboards, ‘fuses jaw-dropping precision with an ominous mix of projection and light—offering an arresting perspective on humanity’s oldest questions, such as ‘Why do we love? And how do we stop it from destroying who we are’?” Gu Jiani’s performances have gained major praise from critics both in Mainland China and abroad. Her current tour takes her to the San Francisco International Arts Festival (1, 3 and 4 June), the Seattle International Dance Festival (9 and 10 June), the Los Angeles Huntington Gardens & Library) and the NYC Jack Theater (22 June, University of Michigan Book Launch). You can watch a trailer at For tickets and for more information, go to



Double CD of Dai and Bai ethnic opera (Yunnan)

The double-CD ‘Only The Mountain Echo Responds’ / ‘A Song Wafts Into The Heart’ (issued by PAN records earlier this year) was presented at the Chime conference at UCLA, last March/April. It contains music of the Bai Opera and the Dai Opera of Yunnan Province. Opera in China combines (folk) stories, song, and dance in colourful costumes. Modern opera refers to the professionalized form practiced by the state supported troupes, while traditional folk opera is still practiced by amateur troupes in the countryside. The Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture Bai Opera Troupe feature on most of disc#1, and the  Dehong Prefecture Dai Opera Troupe feature on most of disc #2. The rest of both discs consists of recordings of amateur opera troupes and/or individual opera singers from Yunnan.

This double CD is a unique document, since no other such extensive productions on Bai and Dai opera exist. All in all the two albums took some twenty years to produce and to finalize. Problems were encountered particularly in the translations of the specialised vernacular in the Bai and Dai languages. The recordings were made by Professor Zhang Xingrong (Kunming), the translations were provided by a highly skilled team consisting of Helen Rees, Satoru Ito, and Yang Hong, with Helen Rees as final editor. The double CD comes as a digipack with extensive liner notes (as pdf’s on the discs), 56+ and 70+ min. UPC 713958212028. It can be ordered from Pan records via

Journal of Asian Musicology

The Journal of Asian Musicology has been jointly published by Korean and Chinese scholars since 2016 after its initial publication in 2000. The new issue of 2017 was recently published in China.

Books (in Chinese) by Yu Hui

Yu Hui, professor and the Dean of Yunnan University of College of Arts and Design has edited and published three books in 2017. Jazz Cosmopolitan: Chinese perspectives of Jazz Music in the Internet Age has been published by the Zhejiang University Press in February 2017. Furthermore, The history and Aesthetics of Oriental Music (dongfang yinyue de lishi yu guannian), and The Forms and Genres of Oriental Music (dongfang yinyue de ticai yu xingshi), both containing selected papers from past conferences of the Oriental Music Society of China, were published by the Anhui Press of Literature and Arts (Anhui Wenyi Chuban She) in March, 2017. Those who are interested in obtaining courtesy copies of these publications can contact the initiators by sending an email message to