Formalist critics and aestheticians have argued that music does not possess any kind of "extra-musical" significance, that there is no meaning beyond the form and structural relations of the notes. For them, music exemplifies the laws of mathematical harmony and proportion rather than the social and political contexts within which it is produced, reproduced and consumed. This view has been challenged by a number of social theorists: Max Weber, Theodor Adorno and Edward Said have all argued for an understanding of music within its social, cultural, economic and political contexts. Such analysis of popular music is now unquestioned. Indeed, it is viewed as valid and important, and within sociology and cultural studies, for example, there has long been no need for justification. Within geography, however, popular music has not been explored to any large extent. I intend to apply some of those ideas in a specific situation. In particular, I wish to explore two key themes: the importance of music in contributing to the social construction of identity, specifically, youth identity; and the nexus between commerce and creativity in the production of music. I will do so by focusing on xinyao, a particular form of Mandarin music in Singapore, exploring its production and consumption within larger social, cultural, economic and political contexts. In analysing xinyao, I have chosen to focus on the social construction of youth identity and the culture-commerce nexus because of the way in which this musical genre has developed from a distinctive form of amateur music by and for Singapore youths in its early stage to one in which commercialisation has altered its original form. My choice of conceptual underpinnings is thus guided by specific empirical developments.
Chinese music, Chinese youths, popular music, Singapore, culture, identity
Asian Studies | Music | Sociology of Culture
Asian Studies Review
Taylor & Francis (Routledge): SSH Titles / Wiley: No OnlineOpen
KONG, Lily.(1996). Making "music at the margins"? A social and cultural analysis of Xinyao in Singapore. Asian Studies Review, 19(3), 99-124.
Available at: http://ink.library.smu.edu.sg/soss_research/2265
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.