In this activity, you will explore different styles of pop music from China, the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and Japan.
More about C-pop
Throughout the 20th century, three distinct forms of popular music can be observed in China, aligning with the cultural changes of the time, as is often the case with musical cultural expression.
During the first half of the 20th century, China's increased contact with other cultures, particularly Western ones, saw a rise in the popularity of jazz, popular recorded tunes and nightclub dance music. Shanghai and Canton became centres for bands and singers following popular music styles.
During the second half of the 20th century, the popular music of the first half of the century was denounced by the Communist regime's Cultural Revolution. Revolutionary songs, propaganda films, traditional operas and symphonic concertos became the prevalent music styles and individualistic expression was forbidden.
Since the mid-1970s, China's popular music scene has begun to reintroduce Western-style music mixed with elements of traditional music. The youth of China began accessing the music of bands popular in the West and emulated their styles and instruments. The music industry began to boom again, with instruments, styles, genres, themes and aesthetics being adapted and influenced by Western and other Asian popular cultures.
An example of the emergence of popular music in China is the 2008 Beijing Olympics' ceremonies that featured many Chinese pop musicians. The music industry in China is bigger than any other in the world, reaching an audience of billions in China alone and ever expanding to other countries in Asia and beyond.
More about K-pop
South Korea also has a rich traditional music heritage. Many of the characteristics of other Asian cultures' music are present in Korean traditional music, such as five-note, or pentatonic scales; vocal and instrumental similarities; and a relationship with dance, drama and other arts forms.
In the early part of the 20th century, traditional music was censored in Korea due to the Japanese annexation of the country. After World War II, the split between the Democratic Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea (North and South Korea) resulted in significantly different approaches to music making and performance.
South Korean pop music is influenced by many sources. It is a fusion of traditional styles and techniques, with a heavy influence from American and other Western musical styles. K-pop consists of several sub-genres, most notably dance, hip hop, rock, indie and folk. K-pop has a significant impact on the contemporary culture of South Korea and other parts of the world. Its slick, highly produced aesthetic has had an impact on fashion, film, design and other arts.
More about J-pop
In the 20th century it was heavily influenced by American rock 'n roll, including Elvis Presley and the Beach Boys.
In the 1990s and beyond, the spread of manga culture, electronic devices and computer technologies, including the internet, saw J-pop reach unprecedented audiences. The prevalence of technological advances in Japanese industry has meant that the cultural aesthetic of digitised, synthesised arts reflects the contemporary life of urban Japanese youth.