[Colloquium] An Audience of One: The Private Music of the Chinese Literati

[Updated 28 October 2017: For friends who might have missed the colloquium, here are the webcast (alternate site) and photo album.]

To most ethnomusicologists, music is a social activity with the main goal of interacting with an audience. China’s qin music, often associated with the literati who play primarily for themselves as a private activity, is an exception. While qin ideology stresses extra-musical meaning and cultural significance, it is also an expressive art. In this talk I will argue that, in playing privately, the player turns inwardly toward himself rather than outwardly toward an audience. In such a performance context, music and musicality need to be assessed by criteria different from those commonly accepted for public music.

Bell Yung, Professor Emeritus of Music of the University of Pittsburgh, is an ethnomusicologist specializing on China. He has published ten books and over fifty scholarly articles, most recently, as author, translator, editor, or co-editor, are Remembering Rulan Chao Pian, Harvard’s First Female Professor of Chinese Heritage (2016, in Chinese), Uncle Ng Comes to America: Narrative Songs of Immigration and Love (2013), The Flower Princess, A Cantonese Opera (2010); Music and Cultural Rights (2009), and The Last of China’s Literati: The Music, Poetry and Life of Tsar Teh-yun (2008).

This event is jointly sponsored by the School of Music, the UBC Hong Kong Studies Initiative, the Centre for Chinese Research, the Department of Asian Studies, the Department of History, the Department of Theatre and Film, and St. John’s College.