Sun, Aug 24, 2014 - Page 3 News List

FEATURE: Industry must work to stay top of Chinese pop: critic

CENTER SHIFTING:Chao Chia-chu warned China’s pop music industry has made significant advances, and says the government may be undermining Taiwanese music

By Chen Hsao-yi and Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Taiwan Music Culture International Alternation Association chairman Chao Chia-chu holds a bass guitar during an interview on Aug. 13.

Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times

Taiwan’s popular music industry prides itself on wielding a strong influence in the Chinese-speaking world as a leading light in the cultural arena, but that could soon cease to be the case, because China has been catching up quickly, veteran Taiwanese music critic Chao Chia-chu (趙家駒) has warned.

“We should not close our eyes and shut our ears to the significant progress China has made in the popular music sector. Some people still perceive China as it was a decade ago, despite the advances it has made,” the chairman of the Taiwan Music Culture International Alternation Association said in a recent interview.

However, Chao added that the nation is “facing the rising power of China’s music industry, but Taiwan still has a good anchor in the sector because it is well-rooted in its homegrown culture.”

“I agree with the point made by veteran music producer Eric Chen (陳子鴻) that Chinese-language popular music in China is like Western pop music in the US. Using this analogy, Taiwan can be like the UK and stay at the forefront of popular culture. We can make good music and become a research and development base for popular Chinese music,” Chao said.

“That is how Taiwan can maintain its position in this sphere. Cultivating Taiwanese musicians’ talents and innovative ideas is very important, but the government is doing quite the opposite — it is suppressing our homegrown creative talents,” he added.

Citing a recent example, Chao said he has been invited for some years to judge a major music competition in China organized by the Guangzhou-based Southern Metropolis Daily.

“Musicians from Taiwan, Hong Kong, China and Macau are always represented in the competition. In the past, many Taiwanese musicians and bands were frequently nominated for awards, but this year, the number of Taiwanese entries was drastically lower,” he said. “I heard one judge from Beijing proclaim proudly that the center of popular Chinese music is now Beijing.”

“This serves as a warning that Taiwan’s music industry must not be isolated from outside development, seeing as China is learning and catching up fast, with Taiwan as its major influence,” Chao said.

The music critic said that many Taiwanese musicians have gone to work in China and that good competition is always welcome, because it benefits everyone and drives progress, “but in recent years, at Taiwan’s Golden Melody Awards, judges have been struck by the impression that songs are becoming similar.”

“The melody, lyrics and composition are sounding increasingly alike, and have nothing special about them,” Chao said, adding that this begs the question: “What is going on in Taiwan’s pop music industry? Why are the musical works it has produced over the past 10, 20 years so similar in style?”

Chao said that in recent times, China has made rapid advances in pop music, producing rock groups such as Second Hand Rose Band (二手玫瑰) and composer Chang Shilei (常石磊), who produced Hong Kong singer Sandy Lam’s (林憶蓮) Gaia album, a fusion of classical music and contemporary pop that won Chang the Best Composer honor at the Golden Melody Awards.

“This advance has not been restricted to music; China’s television programming has also made astonishing progress. We see a variety of talent search shows emerging from there. China not only buys the rights for shows from foreign countries, it also engages in technical exchanges to pick up expertise and know-how. This has greatly boosted its media industry,” he said.

This story has been viewed 3848 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top