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"New Songs of the Battlefield": Songs and Memories of the Chinese Cultural Revolution

by Bryant, Lei Ouyang

Abstract (Summary)
This dissertation focuses on a five-volume anthology of songs published from 1972 to 1976 known as Zhandi Xinge, literally New Songs of the Battlefield. The songs represent a significant portion of the limited musical expression during a period in China known as the Cultural Revolution (1966-76). Published and approved by the Chinese Communist Party, the anthology appeared at a time when artistic and musical activities were extremely restricted. The government utilized this particular musical form for multiple goals, including the propagation of political ideologies, stimulation of party support, and education of the masses. Based upon original research and personal interviews, the dissertation provides the first documentation and analysis of the anthology in any language. Analysis focuses on the official ideology as situated in its socio-historical context, and an examination of individual reception and memory. The study begins with an introduction to the Cultural Revolution period, followed by an investigation of the composition, editing, compilation, themes, texts, and musical characteristics of the anthology. The dissertation concludes with an analysis of the contemporary memory of Cultural Revolution songs while considering concepts of music, memory, and nostalgia. The analysis reveals that the major factors influencing how the music is remembered and who remembers it, is dependent upon a combination of features including music and memory, generational imprinting and changes in contemporary Chinese society.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Bell Yung; Nicole Constable; Mathew Rosenblum; Wenfang Tang; Andrew Weintraub

School:University of Pittsburgh

School Location:USA - Pennsylvania

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:music

ISBN:

Date of Publication:06/24/2004

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