Bob Gluck on Chinese new music

Electronic Music in China, by Bob Gluck
(hyperlink taken off as the article has not been finalized yet)

An article by Bob Gluck about Chinese new music/sound art/electronic music, besides all the academic names (Zhang Xiaofu, Wang Ning, Chen Yuanlin, etc.), it’s great to see the non-academic scene being covered as well (under the title of “Experimental Sound Artists”), which, I guess, owes to Dajuin Yao‘s input.

However, keeping track of an on-going scene is by no means a simple task. Some of the names mentioned in Mr. Gluck’s article are obsolete (for instance: Intelligent Shanghai Mono University has disbanded a long time ago; Zhang Jungang has been focusing on photography and hardly composes anymore.), while some new prominent people should be added (Jin Shan, Chen Wei, Zafka, Lin Zhiying, 21floor (1, 2), Fm3, Yan Jun, to name but a few). It is in this sense that I think this blog, with an attempt to observe, archive and comment on the evolution of Chinese sound art/experimental music, might be able to justify its own existence.

UPDATE: In Gluck’s article there’s the following sentence about electronic composer CHEN Yuanlin:

He has composed electronic music for many media, including ‘Water Passion After St. Matthew’, ‘Peony Pavilion’ (opera), ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ (film) and ‘Hero’ (film) (source: Yuanlin Chen web site).

This is incorrect. I’m not sure about which Peony Pavilion Gluck was referring to, but the other 3 cited works are simply NOT composed by Chen. Given the huge fame of the composer – Tan Dun – behind those works, it’s strange to see this mistake.

So what about the source? Chen’s website is hosted by Geocities, which has been inaccessible from mainland China since at least 1998 for reasons I can never know. Here’s an excerpt from Chen’s bio on his website (I visited it via Proxy) about his role in those works:

(Chen) programmed and performed electronic music for Water Passion After St. Matthew, for the opera Peony Pavilion, for the movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Hero

This should be enough to put the question to an end. In case you need more evidence, here‘s a page listing the credit of the soundtrack of Hero, in which Chen was billed as “Music Recording Editor”. Here‘s a page about Tan Dun’s Bitter Love, in which you’ll find Chen’s name under the “performers” category.



  1. WildDoggyDog said

    Chen Yuanlin has been working for Tan Dun for many many years. He does a lot of dirty work for Tan, including keyboard/sampler performance, synth programming, arranging, perhaps even “more”, while getting very little appreciation, let alone recognition.

    BTW, Bob Gluck’s study is about 3 years old, so it’s not at all surprising to find outdated information in it. However, Gluck’s coverage of the Chinese electronic music scene is perhaps the first of its kind in English.

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