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Shanghai yin yue = 上海音樂

(Shanghai, 1951)

Prepared by Shuang Wang
Online only (2024)

Shanghai Yin Yue (Music) = 上海音樂 (RIPM code SYY) was one of the first music journals published at the beginning of the People's Republic of China (PRC), founded in 1949. It was edited by Chinese National Association of Music Workers, Shanghai Branch 中華全國音樂工作者協會[1]上海分會and published by People's Press, East Region Branch 華東人民出版社. Between March and November 1951 six issues appeared, the final two issues combined in one. It accepted submissions from around the country and mainly circulated in Shanghai and the East Region of mainland China. The journal was planned for six issues in total that would be released in six consecutive months, each with different themes or focus. Yet, it postponed the final two issues (released in November) to coordinate with music campaigns, performances, and conferences in September and October 1951. The main themes of each issue were: summary of past musical movements (Issue 1), the Red May 紅五月Movement (Issue 2), Worker Composition Contest (Issue 3), Nie Er 聶耳Memorial (Issue 4), recent musical events with the Soviet Union (USSR) and East Germany (GDR) (Issue 5), and reviews of recently-published songs (Issue 6). 

Shanghai Yin Yue was mainly structured to supplement and support the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)'s political agendas from music perspectives. Thus, it includes many articles, news reports, scores, and advertisements to promote concurrent policies and events (e.g. Land Reform 土地改革; the Korean War 朝鮮戰爭 抗美援朝; Production Competition 生產競賽). It features reviews on influential musical works, such as Jiangnan Land Reform Suite 江南土改組曲 and Song of Mao Zedong 毛澤東之歌; film scores (e.g. The Life of Wu Xun 武訓傳); concerts (e.g. Concert series by the Central Conservatory, Shanghai Branch; performances in East Berlin); contests (e.g. a violin contest in Belgium); and music education systems. Following the latest music trends in PRC, the journal includes investigations on traditional music genres (e.g. Yue Opera 越劇), the synergy between lyrics and melody in songwriting, and political effects from student or worker music movements. Shanghai Yin Yue also published criticisms of capitalism and the United States government in articles analyzing the negative influences of American Jazz and Hollywood film music. Every issue covers over ten score submissions of new songs from composers, students, and workers from recent short-term music programs, as well as some works from North Korea and the USSR. These scores were mostly written in numbered notations and were intended for patriotic choir performances in schools and factories.

Apart from reporting music news and publishing scores, Shanghai Yin Yue also featured some analytical essays on music. “On the Harmonic Configuration of Chinese-Style Melodies and Folk Tunes” 關於中國風味曲調及民謠的和聲配置問題 by the composer, pianist, and educator Ding Shande 丁善德 is the most substantial and academically-inclined article in this journal and it was serialized in 4 issues. It discusses the Western concepts of harmony and their adaptability to Chinese tunes, the special rules of part-writing for Chinese pentatonic modes, and related practices in Chinese and Western compositions. One of the most discussed subjects in the journal is the film score from The Life of Wu Xun by Huang Yijun 黃貽鈞. From issues 4 to 6, the journal criticizes the score thoroughly, beginning with a reprinted commentary from People's Daily 人民日报, followed by news coverage of review meetings, a column article, and ending with summaries and lessons for future compositions. Like other critical articles in the journal, the purpose for criticizing this work was to reinforce the ideology promoted by the early PRC government, especially in response to, and following, Chairman Mao Zedong's comments in People's Daily of 20 May 1951. From an early 1950s political perspective, its argument was to refute that the music supports the spread of capitalism, colonialism, and feudalism represented by the film itself.

This RIPM Index was prepared from a copy of the journal held by Yale University and Stanford University.


[1] Current title: Chinese Musicians Association中国音乐家协会