Accepted Paper:

Cover versions and the local notion of music production in Hong Kong  

Author:

Hoi Yan Yau (Lingnan University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper is an anthropological attempt to trace how Japanese pop music migrated to Hong Kong in the 1980s and how it was ultimately turned to the provisioning of local notions of music production.

Paper long abstract:

This paper is an anthropological attempt to trace how Japanese pop music migrated to Hong Kong in the 1980s. Since the late 1970s, J-pop has been massively imported into Hong Kong. But 'Japaneseness' was not invoked when these Japanese music pieces were marketed in Hong Kong. They were instead replaced with Cantonese lyrics and published as cover versions. Notwithstanding their Japanese origins, these Cantonese covers were unambiguously recognized and appreciated by local audiences as Hong Kong pop. Similarly, the use of foreign, especially Japanese, melodies to record cover versions is as old as the Hong Kong pop recording industry itself and thus an accepted practice within the industry. I shall argue that the cultural openness displayed by Hong Kong pop has its historical root in the Cantonese opera music tradition where incorporation of foreign melodies has been a normal mode of music production. Thus, while Japanese music is increasingly omnipresent in the local music scene, ultimately it must be locally integrated and made sense in terms of the local musical scheme. Whatever the compulsion of the Japanese musical forces, the local musicians and audiences are not simply overwhelmed by them, since they also bring their own understandings to bear upon the encounter. Such cultural incorporation resonates powerfully with Sahlins' (2000:171) idea of 'develop-man' where global capitalism is often harnessed to develop local traditions. This study provides a unique opportunity to explore how global processes can often be turned to the provisioning of indigenous notions of good life.

Panel P115
The perspective of glocalization: addressing the changing society and culture under globalization