China Blue – A New Musical DirectionBlues music hitting China. Much has been written about the West’s ongoing influence on China; however, one of the key drivers of the last few years has been the incredible speed at which technology and communications have become available.
This has opened up new musical horizons for many young Chinese, who have started to discover for themselves the fascinating history of Western popular music. A whole new sound has evolved, as Chinese artists have married traditional elements and instruments with Western influences.
The result is that today’s Chinese music is very similar to modern Western music, incorporating many of its aspects, from electric keyboards to guitars, whilst in many instances retaining traditional instruments. Most current popular music can be classified as soft rock, rock, or dance music.
This blend of traditional and modern instruments creates a wide variety of unique sounds and rhythms. Many modern artists also incorporate traditional Chinese melodies into their songs, so even music using only popular Western instruments sounds different.
Musicians, regardless of race or creed, tend to share certain traits; they really love what they do; it’s all they know and all they want to do; they are very good with thinking in patterns, rhythms and sounds; they have a strong appreciation for music and are good at musical composition and performance.
Tiger Zhou, 24, fits into this category, having first become interested in music at the age of 5, when he took a strong liking to the harmonica. He progressed along his musical highway, learning to play the guitar at 15 in middle school and performing in his fist band, ‘The No Names’ at a local Shekou bar.
This new generation of Chinese musicians has had much easier access to a wide range of sub genres. For lovers of rock, it has led back to a discovery of its underlying roots: the Blues. The Blues underpins all modern guitar music, and as such has allowed Tiger much more freedom of expression.
He is currently to be found in Sea World’s Pirate Bar (soon to be renamed as the ‘Blu Bamboo’; on a Friday night, playing with his band Hexagram. ‘ I feel I have found my musical roots through the Blues’ he says, after running through a couple of his favourite tracks; Sweet Home Chicago by Buddy Guy and Jimi Hendrix’s The Wind Cries Mary.
One thing is for sure…for the emerging youth of China, searching for their own musical heritage, musicians like Tiger are real icons. The future of Chinese popular music is about to be taken in some fascinating new directions.