Newsletter No. 529/530

How would you define ‘popular music’? While ‘pop music’ is often used to refer to a specific genre or style (like Cantopop), the phrase ‘popular music’ can be used more broadly to refer to music that appeals to a wide audience, is recorded and produced in recording studios, and reaches its audience through mediums like radio, recordings, or streaming services. But it’s actually quite hard to provide a precise definition, and it’s also something scholars have grappled with. What kind of popular music did you grow up with? When I was a teenager, the music that all my peers were listening to was the grunge rock of the 1990s—Nirvana, Green Day, Pearl Jam—as well as hip hop. Looking back, a lot of this was great music. But I guess I was a bit of a music snob, and only listened to jazz. It’s only when I got to college that my music tastes expanded, and I started to listen to all sorts of music—electronic, hip hop, reggae, rock, among others—and expand what I thought of as ‘good’ music. Which is your favourite popular piece? Oh, it’s impossible to choose only one! But Pressure Drop by Toots and the Maytals is a song that has meant a lot of different things to me at different points in my life, and whenever I hear it, it makes me feel again the feelings I had during some of those times. What drew you to Hong Kong and CUHK? My research is based in Guangzhou, where I lived for about six years before starting my PhD studies at Columbia. Since ethnomusicology is a fieldwork-based discipline, it’s fantastic to be so close, so I can continue my research and maintain connections to the musicians and other people I work with. At the same time, CUHK is a great place to be teaching and doing this research, and has a lot of people working on contemporary China in different disciplines and from different approaches that inspire me. And, of course, I love living in Hong Kong! Prof. Adam Kielman 喬曼教授 The recipient of the Early Career Award from the Research Grants Council shares with us his musical experience back in the US and in China during the past decade or so, and his award-winning project on popular music and new mobilities in Southern China. 研究資助局「傑出青年學者獎」的得主與我們分享他早年在美國和近十多年在中國的音樂經 驗,以及他的獲獎研究「中國南方的流行音樂與新流動性」。 你怎樣界定「流行音樂」? 「流行音樂」很多時候是指某一類型或風格的 音樂(如粵語流行音樂),但更廣義是指受廣大 聽眾歡迎的音樂,在錄音室錄製和生產,且通 過電臺、唱片或串流服務等媒介到達聽眾。事 實上不少學者就此爭論不休,頗難準確定論。 說說陪你長大的流行音樂。 十多歲時同輩都是聽九十年代的油漬搖滾— Nirvana、Green Day、Pearl Jam—還有嘻 哈音樂。現在回看,不少都是偉大的音樂。不過 我在音樂上是有點挑剔的,只聽爵士樂。要到 進了大學我才擴濶品味,開始甚麼都聽,包括電 子、嘻哈、reggae、搖滾,「好」音樂在我心目中 的範圍也擴大了。 哪首流行音樂是你的至愛? 噢,不可能只揀一首吧。不過我的確喜歡Toots and the Maytals的 Pressure Drop 。這首歌 在我生命不同的階段有着不同的意義,每次聽 到,某些時刻的感覺便會再次湧現。 怎麼會來到香港和中文大學? 我的研究以廣州為基,在哥倫比亞大學唸博士 之前我在那兒住了六年。由於民族音樂學以田野 工作為本,在香港非常有利於聯繫跟我合作的 音樂家等人。中大有不少學者都在做研究當代 中國的工作,範疇手法各異,能給我不少衝擊, 所以這兒也是教研的好地方。當然,我喜歡香港 的生活也是原因。 流行音樂與流動性兩者有何關連? 過去數十年,中國經歷巨大的經濟、社會、政治 和文化變遷,不單意味着人民流動的頻率和方 式都多了,也意味他們對一己與地方的關係的看 法有所改變。同時,音樂和思想的流播也比以 前更快;那是聲音而非人的流動。我的研究就是 探討中國南部的音樂家如何從全球不同的流行 音樂和地區傳統與思想汲取素材,還有他們怎 樣創作反映其生活和流徙的音樂。 最初接觸中國南部的流行音樂是幾時? 2005年大學畢業後我初到廣州,在一間媒體和 資訊科技公司工作,打理一個小型錄音室,公餘 便和民謠圈的音樂家交上朋友,一起玩音樂。 他們令我眼界大開,認識不少了不起的音樂。 這些音樂對你有多陌生? 可以說是既陌生又熟悉。音樂讓我了解人,產生 聯繫,沒有別的東西可及得上。既了解人,便可 開始了解音樂。 可有玩甚麼樂器? 我玩色士風,十歲那年,人人都要選一件樂器,加 入小學樂隊,自此我便與音樂結下不解緣,音樂 也成了我生命的中心。音樂為我開拓的世界和經 驗無與倫比,我難以想像沒有音樂的生活。 S. Lo Department of Music 音樂系 How are popular music and mobilities connected? In the past few decades, the massive economic, social, political and cultural changes in China have meant that people are not only moving around more and in new ways, but they are also thinking differently about their relationships to places. At the same time, music and ideas about it travel faster than ever before, and represent another form of mobility—in this case, of sound, rather than of people. In my research, I explore how musicians in Southern China draw on global popular musics as well as regional traditions and ideas, and how they create music reflective of their own lives and their own mobilities. When did you first encounter popular music in Southern China? I first came to Guangzhou in 2005 after graduating from college, and worked in a media and IT company, running a small recording studio. In my time off, I started becoming friends with many musicians in the minyao (folk) circle, and then started playing music with them. They opened my eyes to so much great music. How alien was it to you? Well, it was alien in a way, but also very familiar. Music allowed me to understand and connect to people in a way that nothing else could, and by understanding people, you can start to understand the music. Did you play any instrument? I play the saxophone. I started playing when I was ten years old, when everyone had to choose an instrument to play in the elementary school band. I immediately fell in love with playing music, and music has been central to my life ever since. It’s opened up so many worlds and experiences for me—I couldn’t imagine life without it. 12 # 5 2 9 / 5 3 0 | 1 9 . 1 2 . 2 0 1 8 口 談 實 錄 / V iva V oce Photo by ISO Staff