The modernization of China has played a key role in the changes of popular culture in China. With modernization, the people of China were introduced to different forms and styles of music which the Chinese studied and incorporated into their own
music. They felt that the 'Westernization of their music' would make it more modern. With the rise of popular music came a means of identification, and with that, regulations to control its effect on society as a whole. And finally, the blurring of boundaries between China and the rest of the world show the ever-changing nature of the music in China. Throughout China's modernization, as the country opened up to the West, the Chinese music scene slowly changed in terms of style, production, regulation, and distribution.
Along with the technological advancement of China, modernization also exposed the Chinese to Western music. “Among the Western instruments imported into China, the piano seems to have had the most appeal not only for musicians but also the general public” (Lau 95). The appeal of the piano was likely due to three early music scholars, Sheng Xinggong, Li Shutong, and Xiao Youmei, who “all studied piano and considered it an important foundation for learning Western music” (Lau 95). As educators of music, these three individuals had great influence on the other generations of musicians. Additionally, when a Russian composer named Alexander Tcherepnin (1899-1977) was performing a world wide piano tour and came to China, he became enamored with Chinese music. As a result Tcherepnin canceled the rest of his tour to remain in China in order to study and work with many Chinese musicians and “he devoted himself to educating Chinese composers to express their native style by integrating native elements with Western music” (Lau 97). Tcherepnin's involvement had a great impact. One of his students named He Luting wrote a composition for a contest that “was established by Tcherepnin to encourage the publication and dissemination of new works composed in the Chinese style” (Lau 97). He Luting later came to be “one of the most influential twentieth-century Chinese composers and music educators” (Lau 97).
The adoption of Western music inspired new ways of viewing music and resulted in a transformation of Chinese music. It prompted “Chinese composers to either fuse Western music with traditional sounds or turn their back on traditional Chinese music [because they Westernized] their music modeled on the perceptions that Western music equates with modernization” (Lau 90). Additionally, because many traditionalists feared that traditional Chinese music would gradually disappear due to the modernizing Western music, “they began to focus on promoting Chinese music as a way to counteract the encroachment of Western culture and music. But they did it in a 'modernist' rather than preservationist sort of way. Many musicians experimented with new ways of composing music and modernizing traditional instruments”...