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Welcome to the world of Chinese music
the ultimative source for Chinese music online.
5,488 articles in English with 19,729,460 views (and counting ...)

General information

This should help as a start to dive deeper into the issue of researching Chinese music, both traditional and modern, whereas within this project (RiC) a focus is laid on modern Chinese music, be it rock, underground, pop, jazz or electro music. The team behind Rock in China and numerous helpers all around the world have collected references, music samples, articles and first-hand-interviews with Chinese artists in the last twenty years.

The research section of Rock in China is connecting the various pieces of information available and putting them in a useful context for further exploration and use. E.g. the Band Forming Timeline combines in one page a graphical overview of the underground activities in China. Aggregated in a powerful chart, the boom time of the underground scene can clearly be identified.

This starting page is giving you an overview on the general research activites, surplus at the bottom of the page, divided in subcategories and specific articles, further information either on the topic of research or general and helpful information to conduct research, e.g. the History of Rock in China article, the Chinese Mythology article and other gateway categories that substitute and aggregate background information. Most topics, that only touch the music scene, such as traditional music instruments or Chinese myths that are used as theme in a song are not dived in too deeply yet, so if you feel they should be included, please feel free to do so.

Enjoy the hunt ...

Table of Contents


Who is conducting research

At present there are several societies and researchers actively conducting research about contemporary music in China. Several others have touched the topic and written and published thesis or papers on this regard.


University Department / Centre Focus Webpage Remarks
University of Aarhus (Denmark) Dept. of East Asian Studies Assist. Professor Andreas Steen
University of Heidelberg (Germany) Institute of Sinology Contemporary Music University of Prof. B. Mittler
Leiden University (Netherlands)
Chinese University of Hong Kong Department of Music Information on current and important holdings, history of the Chinese Music Archive, and current staff
University of London Department of Music / Centre of Chinese Studies Ethnomusicology; musics of China and Central Asia, especially Uyghur; recorded music; music and ritual, music, identity and politics University of Dr. Rachel Harris


Undergraduates & Graduates

This is only a selection of valid researchers. 
If you are conducting research, please contact us and add yourself to the list.
  • Angela D. Steele and Lila Babb via their Hip Hop in China (Blog) on Hip Hop in general
  • John Thompson, who wrote his thesis on emo music in China (including The Raving Radio and Surprise)
  • Pawel Maciejewski, researching for his master thesis
  • L.White, 2006, 'The Alternative Music scene in Beijing since 1989 and social change', University of Cambridge (Undergraduate thesis)
  • Rebecca Cowell, File:Representin (online version).pdf, University of Cambridge (Undergraduate thesis), 2010.
  • Michael Marshall, PhD at University of Washington in Seattle, working on Beijing rock/punk scene

Chinese music critics

Jereon Groenewegen has published a list of Chinese music critics.

Exhibitions and collections

There are a few collections available at various libraries and universities.

What has been written already

list of articles / list of thesis / a list of references / list of books

Read the full bibliography on Chinese Music

Publication date Author Title Range and genre covered Download
2011 Lukas Kirschner Zeitgenössische Chinesische Folkmusik
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Beijing folk scene (Zhang Quan (Wild Children), Zhou Yunpeng, Wan Xiaoli, ...) Full Thesis
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2010 Rebecca Cowell Representin' the Dirty North: The Indigenisation of Rap Music and Hip-hop Culture in Beijing 2009-2010
Beijing Hip-hop culture
2010 William Ace Rowles What does it mean to be rock ‘n’ roll in China? Chinese Rock File:What does it mean to be rock 'n' roll in China (reduced PDF).pdf
2009 Stian Vestby Signs and Sounds: Identity Projects and Postmodern Bricolage in a Chinese Punk Rock Community Fall 2007
Wuhan Punk Scene
confidential, though available on request (
2008 Thompson, J. Tears that flutter and fade 2005-7
Emo Rock
2007 Meunier, A. La longue marche du rock chinois 1980-2000
Beijing Rock
2007 Wang, Q. The Crisis of Chinese Rock in the mid-1990s: Weakness in Form or Weakness in Content Mid-1990s
Rock, China
2006 Steele, A. D. Zai Beijing: A Cultural Study of Hip Hop 2000-2006
HipHop Beijing
2006 White, L. The Alternative Music scene in Beijing since 1989 and social change ---
2005 Groenewegen, J Tongue - Making sense of Beijing underground rock, 1997-2004 1997-2004
Beijing Underground
2001 Grillot, C Dixia Chengdu / Chengdu Underground 1990-2000
Chengdu Underground Music
PDF & English Translation
1999 Kin-keung, C Comparative study on rock music in Beijing and Tokyo ---
Beijing Rock
1998 Movius, L. Popular Culture, Social Change and Political Reaction in Post-Reform China 1984-1995/7
Beijing Rock
1996 Steen, A. Der Lange Marsch des Rock'n'Roll 1911-1994/5
Beijing Rock
English Translation


Conducting research projects about Chinese music needs eloquent language skills, but even the most knowledgable researcher needs tools that help him/her to decipher pinyin within a short time, give him machine translations of longer texts and correct Chinese characters for the thesis. Below are a few tools, we of Rock in China are using:

  • Google Language Tools, be it for machine-made translations which are adapted or for cross-language searching with English terms in the Chinese web
  • Adsotrans, a pinyin converter. Enter Chinese text and change it into Pinyin.

Starting Points to Explore the Underground

Rock music history of China
Main Articles

Electronic Music | Metal | Punk | Rock

Regional Scenes

Beijing | Chengdu | Chongqing | Hongkong | Macau | Qingdao | Shanghai | Wuhan | Xi'an

Timelines & Lists

Domestic Bands | Foreign Bands | Labels | Tours | Records

Special Articles

History of the Midi Music Festival | Research

Individual Years

2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 | 1999 | 1998 | 1997 | 1996 | 1995 | 1994 | 1993 | 1992 | 1991 | 1990 | 1989 | 1988 | 1987 | 1986 | 1985 | 1984 | 1983 | 1982 | 1981 | 1980 | 1979

The Year in Review (Photos)

2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 | 1999 | 1998 | 1997 | 1996 | 1995

There are many ways to dive into the Chinese music world and explore / research. Here are a few starting points:

Requesting information

In general the Rock in China webpage is always available for intensive research (citation required), but you can furthermore directly contact one of our staff for interviews, specific requests or contact requests to other entities or artists.

Studies in relation to music worldwide

The following list of research papers are a selected list based upon RiC's opinion:

  • LeVine, M. (2008). Heavy Metal Islam - Rock, resistance, and the struggle for the soul of Islam (1st edition). New York: Three Rivers Press.
    Offering a good introduction in the social struggles, chances and defeats a subgenre of rock, heavy metal, is facing in the Islamic world, represented by the countries Morocco, Egypt, Israel/Palestine, Lebanon, Iran and Pakistan.
  • Other scenes in Asia provide further insight into the Asian music and youth cultures


This category has the following 15 subcategories, out of 15 total.
The number of included categories (C), pages (P) and files (F) is stated in brackets.









  • Songs(3 C, 139 P)