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Circuit Listening

Chinese Popular Music in the Global 1960s

2020
Author:

Andrew F. Jones

Circuit Listening

How the Chinese pop of the 1960s participated in a global musical revolution


What did Mao’s China have to do with the music of youth revolt in the 1960s, and how did the Beatles and Bob Dylan sound on the front lines of the Cold War in Asia? Andrew F. Jones listens in on the 1960s beyond the West, suggesting how transistor technology, decolonization, and the Green Revolution transformed the sound of music globally.

What did Mao’s China have to do with the music of youth revolt in the 1960s? And how did the mambo, the Beatles, and Bob Dylan sound on the front lines of the Cold War in Asia? In Circuit Listening, Andrew F. Jones listens in on the 1960s beyond the West, and suggests how transistor technology, decolonization, and the Green Revolution transformed the sound of music around the globe.

 

Focusing on the introduction of the transistor in revolutionary China and its Cold War counterpart in Taiwan, Circuit Listening reveals the hidden parallels between music as seemingly disparate as rock and roll and Maoist anthems. It offers groundbreaking studies of Mandarin diva Grace Chang and the Taiwanese folk troubadour Chen Da, examines how revolutionary aphorisms from the Little Red Bookparallel the Beatles’ “Revolution,” uncovers how U.S. military installations came to serve as a conduit for the dissemination of Anglophone pop music into East Asia, and shows how consumer electronics helped the pop idol Teresa Teng bring the Maoist era to a close, remaking the contemporary Chinese soundscape forever.

 

Circuit Listening provides a multifaceted history of Chinese-language popular music and media at midcentury. It profiles a number of the most famous and best loved Chinese singers and cinematic icons, and places those figures in a larger geopolitical and technological context. Circuit Listening’s original research and far-reaching ideas make for an unprecedented look at the role Chinese music played in the ’60s pop musical revolution.

Circuit Listening

Andrew F. Jones, professor and Louis B. Agassiz Chair in Chinese at the University of California, Berkeley, teaches modern Chinese literature and media culture. He is author of Like a Knife: Ideology and Genre in Contemporary Chinese Popular Music, Yellow Music: Media Culture and Colonial Modernity in the Chinese Jazz Age, and Developmental Fairy Tales: Evolutionary Thinking and Modern Chinese Culture. He has also translated two books of fiction by Yu Hua, and a volume of literary essays by Eileen Chang.

Circuit Listening

Contents


Acknowledgments


Introduction. The East is Red: Towards a Sonic History of the 1960s


1. Circuit Listening at the Dawn of the Chinese 1960s


2. Quotation Songs: Media Infrastructure and Pop Song Form in Mao’s China


3. Fugitive Sounds of the Taiwanese Musical Cinema


4. Pirates of the China Seas: Vinyl Records and the Military Circuit


5. Folk Circuits: Rediscovering Chen Da


6. Teresa Teng and the Network Trace


Appendix: “Listening to Songs in the Streets of Taipei”


Hsu Tsang-Houei


Notes


Index