"I Should Have My Own Personality": Identity Negotiations in Tan Xiaolin's Art Songs

Arturo Irisarri Izquierdo

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference paperpeer-review

Abstract

Tan Xiaolin 谭小麟 (Shanghai, 1912-1948), one of the most innovative Chinese composers of the first half of the 20th century, wrote a number of highly original art songs that are nowadays part of the standard repertoire of this genre in China, yet remain virtually unheard of outside the country. In this paper, co-authored with Prof. Hon-Lun Yang, I propose an exploration of Tan’s art song production through the lens of identity politics. Influenced by the Freudian concept of ‘dream work’ (traumarbeit) as developed in the theory of Slavoj Žižek (b. 1949), I select three of Tan's songs, one from each of his three compositional periods (his early years
in China, his studies in the United States, and his final years in China), for analysis. I will then trace the composer’s articulation of a particular identity model on each piece, establishing the pertinent connections between the elements on the score—with special emphasis on the articulation of the piano/voice relation—and Tan’s vital experiences. Drawing on detailed discussions of each of these works and the period they belong to, I lay forward the claim that the struggle to negotiate his own identity, divided between the two poles of China and the West (mainly the United States), constitutes a crucial factor—albeit largely underexplored—that may allow us to understand Tan’s art song output as a unified project.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 13 May 2022
EventInternational Council for Traditional Music 7th Symposium of the Study Group on Musics of East Asia - Online
Duration: 13 May 202215 May 2022

Conference

ConferenceInternational Council for Traditional Music 7th Symposium of the Study Group on Musics of East Asia
Abbreviated titleICTM MEA 2022
Period13/05/2215/05/22

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