Resource: Thai music website


I was informed of this interesting website, called “Montakplengthai”, about thai popular music (actually, it was a while ago, but I could (did) not open the email somehow. This website (blog), run by Peter Doolan, has a great collection of thai pop old and new, and very well maintained with good quality sound clips. You should check out and I think even some thai colleagues here might appreciate.

Here are some words from the blogger:

enchanting songs of thailand
collection of great music by thai people; ลูกทุ่ง (luk thung), ลูกกรุง (luk krung), หมอลำ (molam), various folk styles & others. most of these are taken from tapes that i found either in thailand or at home, in america. quality should be pretty good (unless stated otherwise). transliteration done using the royal thai general system of transcription. any feedback is appreciated!

History of Korean popular music through films (3): ‘Go Go 70’ and the Devils (데블스)

A film about 1970s Korean popular music was released on the early October. The title is Go Go 70.


The film was inspired, of course partly, form my book called An Archaelogy of Korean pop music 1960s/1970 (2 volumes) published in 2005. I met the director (Choi Ho 최호) and the producer of the film last year and exchanged the view about the concept of the film. Although I was not involved in film making and still don’t know what the film is about, I thought it lucky that the band (fictional) in the film was based on soul group called the Devils which had existed in the 1970s. You can see teaser and music video clip at youtube: TrailorTeaser and Music Video.

About the recorded music by the “real” band, I would like to share some mp3 files which I extracted from the LP, which is the second full length album released in 1974 (Thanks for the one who borrowed the records).  Hope you are generous about the quality of recorded sound. Many people said that most of the bands recorded one album in one or two days until the mid-1970s in South Korea.


The Devils – Theme from Shaft (inst.)

The Devils – don’t_know, don’t_know (몰라요 몰라)

The Devils – The Song of my Love (님의 노래)

About the books published about 3 years ago, one news paper article is at here . One question to myself: do I have to internationalize these kinds of local knowledges/studies?


The review about the film does not seem to be good and one comment by a female film critic was that “does the film want to enlighten decadence?.” Moreover, it is said that there are some controversies going on in South Korea about the “correct representation” of different personalities in the film. Hope I can tell you in detail later. But que sera…


Digitizing 76rpm SPs


I read an interesting article in the Wired blog and wanted to share it with you:

One Man’s Quest to Digitize and Publicize Rare Vinyl

The man named Cliff Bolling have been digitizing hundreds of 78rpm SP records into mp3 forms for the last five years, and still thousands to go. In his archiving website, you can find many interesting soundbites from the early age of electronic reproduction of music. The way different musical reproduction technologies with different epochal significance are meeting as we have seen in the cases of turntable, cassette tape, etc.

If you’re into Japanese music history, his Japanese records page is worth visiting. As I am not an expert, I have no idea how rare these Japanese records are (considering Japanese archiving culture, they might not be). But it is cool to have an access to old Japanese records from your laptop. One record with lyrics and dance moves attached looks cool! Another one I like is “Drinking Song” which sounds to me a “traditional” song and performance accompanied by simple shamisen playing.

History of Korean popular music through films (2): “Song of Hope (希望歌)”

by homey81

Let me start with my personal experience in the 1980s. If you don’t like “Marxist days” of East Asian scholars, you can skip the first and second paragraph.

In the early and mid-1980s, when I was a university student in Seoul, lots of students sang this song especially during drinking. The song title was simply “song of hope (heui-mang-ga: 希望歌).” The song delivered the feeling of despair and despair. At that time, for the students who were still thinking that they are the main subjects of the reform (or revolution!) of society but that “the enemy” (in the vocabulary at that time) was too strong to overthrow. So despair and resignation was the normal feeling in everyday life.

I will stop (self-)psychoansis. Although they talked about politics and society, university freshmen were just 18 or 19 year old and could not know what the world is about. So most of them sang songs in crummy pubs for self-consolation, with heavy drinking soju and maggeolli (rice wine). At that time, the only “recorded” version I could listen to was Hahn Daesoo’s recording in 1975 in his official second album. Put it simple, he was “Korean Bob Dylan” anmd you can sense what that means if you hear his voice. I will skip his story and come back to his music later on.

hahn_dae-soo_-_gomushinrubber_shoes1-282x300Heemanga (Song of Hope) – Hahn Dae-soo (1975)

In the 1980s, university students took it for granted the song is one of “orally inherited” Korean folksongs. Looking back, three meter rhythm and pentatonic melody line did not make them (including me) throw doubt about the origin of the song. As you might know, traditional Korean folksong was based on pentatonic melody and 3 meter.


After 1990s when students did not sing the song any more, I got to know that the melody of the song came from Japan and that Japanese also adapted British melody to Japanese lyrics. To be more exact, the melody was exported to America (US) and was transformed into a Chiristian hymn title “Garden.” I found out two scores of a song inserted in a paper which one of my Japanese friends kindly shared. I also could discover two version of the song by searching in internet: the one is American hymn version and the other is Japanese instrumental version.

Garden (American hymn version)
  The Root of White Fuji Mountain

Unfortunately I don’t know much about the detailed information. What I’ve heard is that Japanese version was created for the requiem of the high school students who were drowned in the sea in 1910. The lyricist was a female teacher who worked in the region. The song title was stabilized as “The Root of Mashiroki Fuji no-ne (White Snow in Fuji Mountain).” About the short introduction about translation and “mistranslation” of the song in Japan, please see (in Japanese).


The first recording version in Korea (around 1925) is more interesting at least to Korean people, including me. It shows how it was difficult for Korean singers to adjust Western scale. Their singing sounds like “ethnic music” or “world music.”  The song became one of the objects of the early recordings of “Korean folksong (minyo)” in the 1920s. One of the singers (woman) was Gisaeng (Korean Geisha) who were specialized in traditional vocal music like pansori. There were a couple of other versions of this song during 1930s, but I will skip over these points.

Hahn Dae-soo’s version was recorded in mid-1970s and it shows that the 1970s was as hard as 1930s to ordinary people as well as to students . The song actually tells that “there is no hope,” though the society was modernizing itself. Beside him, many Korea popular singers, especially who identified themselves as “folksingers,” recorded this song.

I Puungjin Sewol (his hard period) – Park Chaesun and Yi Ryusaek (1925)

There are one recent film and one TV drama which feature the song. The one is Cheongyeon (Blue Swallow, 2006) which was about the first Korean pilot in Japan and the other is Kyongsong Scandal (Scandal in colonial Seou, 2007l). In the film, the song was inserted as orchestral background music when the hero and heroine firstly knew that they were Korean (Chosun-jin). In the latter, the heroine (Han Go-eun features as Song-ju) sang the song. Please enjoy.


Song of Hope (Blue Swallow Soundtrack)  Song of Hope (Kyongsong Scandal Soundtrack)

In conclusion, it is interesting how an English melody traveled to Japan and then to Korea. This kind of “transculturation” shows that something similar to “globalization” already happened in the 1929~30s. I know we need much discussion for arguing like that. Anyway what was though to be purely “national,” was actually the product of the complicated international or transnational cultural flows. “Transnational production precedes national production.” And the song enjoyed lasting life at the receiving end of the flow.

(HJ a.k.a. Sjon)

Playfully becoming Chinese: making up ‘Asia’ in SEAsia?

by ebaulch

In Indonesia these days, there is a propensity among (non Chinese) pop
musicians to take on Chinese stage names, for example, Mulan Kwok,
Meichan and Baim Wong. There is another artist called, I think, Ferry
Chow, but I cannot find the reference (an interview in Gadis magazine)
to confirm it. This strikes me as something new, that is distinct from
the rise of Chinese stars such as Agnes Monica and Leonie. I am slowly
starting to think about how to read this, and in doing so shy away
from treating it as peculiarly Indonesian, related to the
liberalisation of public expressions of Chineseness, and lean towards
beginning to explore its interAsian dimensions. This playful (Mulan
Kwok recently changed her stage name to Mulan Jameela without turning
a hair!) adoption of Chinese stage names reminds me of how some young
men I worked with in the 1990s would adopt scary, English-sounding
nicknames, and invoke the cultural power of AngloAmerica.
Alternatively, the adoption of Chinese stage names invokes East Asia,
the metropolis, hence constructing ‘Asia’, of course, in a certain
way. At the same time, in an age of Idol and MTV, the construction of
an ‘Asia’ centred on East Asia does not overtake that of an
Anglo-American metropolis.

It appears that some things have been written about the construction
of Asia in East Asia (or in ‘East Asia plus one’, including Singapore
– Chua Beng Huat), but little about the production of Asia in
Southeast Asia. My question is: does anybody in this group undertake
or know of any such work, or have an interest in comparing examples of
Southeast Asian celebrities ‘playfully becoming Chinese?’

(Emma Baulch)

Two more books: on popular culture in Indonesia and popular music in Austrailia

by sonicscape

I was informed that these books on popular music and popular culture were just published. It feels good to see many books on popular culture in/around Asia (and especially music) are coming out.


Popular Culture in Indonesia:
Fluid Identities in Post-Authoritarian Politics

Edited by Ariel Heryanto
Published by Routledge, 2008

One of the most significant results of the deepening industrialization in Southeast Asia since the 1980s has been the expansion of consumption and new forms of media, and that Indonesia is a prime example. Popular Culture in Indonesia; Fluid Identities in Post-Authoritarian Politics details the key trends since the collapse of the authoritarian Suharto regime (1998), showing how the multilayered and contradictory processes of identity formation in Indonesia are inextricably linked to popular culture. This is one of the first books on Indonesia’s media and popular culture in English; a significant addition to the literature on Asian popular culture.

For more information about this book, please visit:


Sounds of then, sounds of now
Popular music in Australia

Edited by Shane Homan and Tony Mitchell
Hobart: ACYS Publishing, June 2008

In Sounds of then, sounds of now: Popular music in Australia some of the country’s most respected popular music researchers, musicians and music journalists document a range of past and present Australian sounds and scenes.

The collection maps recent changes in music consumption, production and media technologies, and the implications for local industries. It reconciles local music histories with contemporary practice, and reflects upon the growth and current diversity of Australian research, music genres and contexts, including jazz, rock, folk, metal, electronica, dance music, experimental music and hip hop. Chapters examining Aboriginal, Islander and world musics offer new perspectives on local and transnational relationships between popular music, geography and culture in Australia.

This text provides a means for understanding how popular music has expressed, reflected and influenced changes in Australian society through debates about youth, nationalism, censorship, local identity, contested spaces and enduring mythologies about ‘Australianness’. While some chapters examine earlier scenes and musical forms, the emphasis is upon Australian popular music since World War 2. At the same time, every chapter is informed by global debates and themes, including popular music’s ongoing concerns with concepts such as nationalism, cultural imperialism, globalisation, authenticity, appropriation, the ‘mainstream’, subcultures, genres and the impact of new media and the internet.

The authors’ considerable experience in teaching and researching popular music studies has ensured a collection that is lively, accessible and well adapted to use in media, popular music, sociology, musicology and cultural studies courses. Each chapter contains a reference list, discography, a list of key web sites and discussion questions to assist students in linking chapter themes and issues to wider national and international debates.

At a time when Australian popular music is enjoying increasing international critical and commercial success, this wide-ranging new collection offers a critical revision of popular music’s place in Australian society.

For more information:

Anthony’s new book

by sonicscape

Congratulations! Anthony Fung’s new book is finally out! Here is some information of his book. Please get your library have a couple of copies of this book.


Global capital, local culture: Transnational media corporations in China (Popular culture and everyday life)
by Anthony Y. H. Fung (Peter Lang, 2008)

Anthony Y.H. Fungs study of the localization of transnational media in China is perceptive and fascinating. He writes with impressive insight and experience, as well as a good deal of enthusiasm for his subject. We not only learn about forms of entertainment media and popular culture in China after its entry into the WTO, but about how the cultural logic of political economy can be used to understand media. Fung has made a valuable contribution to the literature [on this subject]. –Janet Wasko, University of OregonThis book administers a much-needed antidote to some of the common myths about the politics underlying the marketization of the Chinese media industries in recent years. Drawing on extensive industry interviews, this book demonstrates the importance of taking an approach that, as Fung puts it, considers politics before economics in the study of the Chinese markets. This is a fundamental critique of the orthodoxies of globalization, which provides a highly nuanced understanding of the organization of media production and cultural consumption in China today.Graeme Turner, University of Queensland –Graeme Turner, University of Queensland

Product Description
This book examines the way transnational media companies have entered the Chinese entertainment market. Based on the authors ethnographic work and over 100 interviews with senior executives in global media corporations, including Warner Bros. Pictures, Viacoms MTV Channel, and Nickelodeon and News Corporations Channel V, the book analyzes the concrete globalization/localization strategies of these corporations and how they cope with the various political and economic constraints of working in China.

About the Author
Anthony Y.H. Fung is an associate professor in the School of Journalism and Communication at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He received his Ph.D. from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota. His research interests include political economy of transnational media corporations, popular culture, and cultural studies.

A few recent books on popular music you might be intrested in

by sonicscape

By no means I read these all, but I jotted down the titles of these books (actually put them in my Amazon wishlist for later). They are not necessarily “academic” books.


Governing sound: The cultural politics of Trinidad’s carnival musics
by Jocelyne Gilbault (University of Chicago Press, 2007)

I think she is a well-known ethnomusicologist especially to those who are intrested in Caribbean music and cultural identity issues around popular music. She is known as an expert on Zouk and now this work is on Trinidad’s Calypso and Soca (Soul + Calypso). The title gives a hint of Foucault, I guess.


Heavy metal Islam: Rock, resistance, and the struggle for the soul of Islam
by Mark Levine (Three Rivers Press, 2008)

I had no idea about the author, but I read a review about this book published in NYT this weekend. The fact that the author arduously observed and interviewed local heavy metal, punk and reggae musicians in Islam world makes this work itself worth reading. This book might be interesting to those whose issues are (Islamic) youth culture, identity and politics.


The pirate’s dilemma: How youth culture is reinventing capitalism
by Matt Mason (Free Press, 2008)

The title tells everything: celebration of DIY, open source music? I guess it might be a technologically-centered and naively-too-much-optimistic work. In fact, a review article in Guardian interests me in this book written by a British journalist. Worth checking out if you are intrested in digital technologies, youth culture, digital culture, digital copyright and piracy issues. It hit upon me that it might be better it is accompanied by an academic work — Bootlegging: Romanticism and copyright in the music industry by Lee Marshall (Sage, 2005).


Happy reading!

History of Korean popular music through films (1): Radio Days and Kim Hae-song

by homey81


In last April, a film “Radio Days” were released.  The film was  comedy around the production of the first radio drama in Korea in the 1930s.  There are other films that dealt with popular culture in the 1930s like “Modern Boy” and “Once upon a Time in Korea.” It has been a sort of “trend,” but the commercially so-s0.

Anyway my focus is not the film itself but the soundtrack of the film, The music director of the film, Sung Kiwan is the leader of the respected indie band The 3rd Line Butterfly (some of here saw the band play in July 2005 after Inter-Asia cultural studies conference). Recently he has been obsessed with Kim Hae-song: 金海松: 1913-1950) who was one of the important figures in Korean popular music and one of the pioneers of “jazz” and “musical” in the 1940s.


Kim Hae-song (left) and his band members (right). In the latter, the third from the right is Kim and the first from the left is Lee Nan-young who was Kim’s wife and was “the voice of colonial Korea”). Unfortunately I could not found out the date and year when the photo was taken.

In the film, Kim’s songs were used frequently. And the song “Youth Class (Cheongchun Kye-geup)” was a sort of theme song of  the film. The date of original recording is around 1938 or 1939 and the SP record was released by Columbia record (Korean branch of Japanese record company and on eof the biggest one at that time). Although Kim Hae-song concentrated on composing, arranging and conducting after 1940s, he recorded some songs in the 1930s. In my view, he can be compared to Japanese songwriter Hattori Ryoichi (服部良一) or Chinese songwriter Chen Gexin (陳歌辛). Sadly he died during Korean War (around 1951?) .


In soundtrack album, there are two versions of “Youth class.” The one is original recording and the other is cover version JODK big band which was formed by the fil soundtrack by the members of different indie bands (trivia: JODK was a call-sign of Kyongsong (Seoul) Radio broadcasting company. JOAK was for Tokyo, JOBK was for Osaka and JOCK was for Nagoya. It is said that JOEK was reserved for Taipei).

You can hear the song in the links below.

Youth Class by Kim Hae-song (recorded around 1938?)

Youth Class by JODK Big Band (recorded in 2008) 

The lyrics were written by Cho Myung-am (趙鳴岩) who used to have been “modernist poet” and so-called “converted left-wing intellectuals” after 1930s. I hope I can tell his second life in North Korea after War later. Now I will just translate the lyrics into English. It is hedonistic ad “decadent” with “exotic” words  from French, Russian, German… It seems that Korean (male) intellectuals desired not only liberation but also consumption. 

 Youth Class

Lyrics by Cho Myung-am
Music by Kim Hae-song

Let’s sing songs, soneta of love.
Let’s sing a song until this night is gone
Oh, beautiful amoreu (amour). Oh, daririr-daririr-daradda.
Let’s dring Woka (vodka) and sing songs

Let’s dance, tap dance of love
Let’s dance until this night is gone
Oh, pretty girl. Oh, daririr-daririr-daradda.
Let’s drink shampang (champagne) and let’s dance

Let’s dance and sing. This is paresu (palace) here.
We are Eroika, the brave of the shadow.
Oh, tender devil. Oh, daririr-daririr-daradda.
Let’s drink shampang (champagne) and let’s dance and sing!

Lstly, the trailer of the film is here:





by homey81


On the last Saturday, 19 April, I happened to be in Berkeley (exactly Albany) during stopping over my trip between Hawaii and the Netherlands. On that day, there was a concert in 924 Gilman Street (it is both the address and the name of the club). I heard the news of concert tour by Mike Park, who was one of the pioneers of “The Third Wave of ska (or skapunk)” in Bay Area, forming and disbanding of numerous bands including Skankin’ Pickle, the Chinkees and Bruce Lee Band. However, since a couple of years ago, he has become a solo singer-songwriter who sings with only the accompaniment of his acoustic guitar alone. But the show on that day was different.

The show was organized for the memorial/tribute of the late Lynette Knackstedt, a (female) guitar player in Skankin’ Pickle who died on 7 December last year.  The concert was for donating for her and her family and organized by Mike himself. [Accoding to Mike Park, other bands were the Boars(60’s garage punk featuring Lars from Pickle on Organ and vocals), The Bar Feeders(SF MISSION punks, good friends of Lynette), and Lucifer’s Strip Club Band(Lynette’s last band, playing burlesque type jazz, lounge, swing music)].

Although I (and Jaeyoung) missed Mike’s solo performance because of stupid reason, we could enjoy the performance of Skanaking Pickle’s songs like “I am in Love with a Girl named Spike,” and “I missed the Bus.” It has been long since Mike Park played with full band set and he himself seems to be inspired, swithching singing songs and blowing saxophone. I did not know that ska is so energizing and the sound was quite different from that I heard through CDs ot mp3s.

Although I could not record the show, you can enjoy Skankin’ Pickle’s live performance clip. Alas, already 15 years ago… :