Resonating Emotions: Researching Mainland China's New Folk and its Collectives (2002-2012)
In the course of the last decade, mainland China's New Folk has expanded its audience to include the traditional elite
time: Sunday 28 october 2012, 15:00 to 17:00.
place: Peng Hao Theater (Beijing, Mianhua hutong nr. 35, 10 meters east of the Central Academy of Theater)
In the course of the last decade, mainland China's New Folk has expanded its audience to include the traditional elite. Accordingly, the status of New Folk singers improved from itinerant artists into 'independant musicians'. Moving into new contexts, folk music (minyao) has acquired new meanings. In ethnomusicology, it originally refered to the local songs of various ethnicities and areas. Many of these songs have for many centuries and over vast areas helped locals mediate and focus their emotions. In cultural sociology, folk music represents the voice of the underclass. Often through metaphors, it argues, folk music presents a political allegory. This research will analyse how various social groups have interpreted New Folk's newness, discussing emotional management, the production of the self, engagements with the canon, methods of creation and means of dissemination.
Secondly, from a structural point of view the 'upward mobility' of New Folk originates from the liberalization and development of social space: (1) the structural discrepancy between social reality and its political 'blueprint' provides New Folk singers negotional space; (2) youngsters lead increasingly uprooted lives, which provides New Folk singers a space for emotional identification; (3) bars and coffee houses that popped up everywhere have provided New Folk singers spaces for live performances; (4) specialized and personalized websites provided New Folk singers with stable platforms for distributing their works and connecting with their audience; (5) Self-employment outside of the system became increasingly accepted, providing breathing space for marginal groups such as folk singers to build careers; and finally, (6) New Folk was able to appeal to different kinds social groups, which constructed their own structures of significance. This provided New Folk with a large space for dissemination.
New Folk's upward mobility relies upon the mutual influence of traditional elites and folk singers and on the play of passivity and activity at the margins. Ultimately, folk music's success relies on its ability to influence its audience.
Finally, the upward mobility of New Folk has repercussions beyond New Folk audiences. It hints at new potentials of the social fabric as a whole. Variegated identifications create preconditions for transforming the emotional focus of a whole range of social groups. Individuals are increasingly able to exists and thrive without relying on the system. Grand scale politics and ideology are increasingly divorced from peoples daily life and individual experiences.
Luo Jinwen is a Phd student at the sociology department of Tsinghua University, class of 2009. Luo has been researching New Folk since 2009.
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