We may be a few months off the mark, but have just come across an interesting article in the New York Times written by Jonathan Kaiman and Andrew Jacobs titled 'Ethnic Music Tests Limits in China'.
They discuss how 'a growing roster of alternative performance sites and music festivals has allowed Chinese ethnic minority musicians...to enjoy an unusual degree of financial security and cultural prominence' in a country where the central state and majority Han population has tended to marginalise smaller ethnic communities, which make up around eight percent of China's population (that's one hundred million people!).
The state-sponsored representation of minority groups mainly consists of “song and dance troupes” that regularly appear on television. Kaiman and Jacobs note how 'these shows portray minorities as exotic and unthreatening — with bright clothes and wide smiles and who are fanatical about singing and dancing. Many disparate minority groups often perform on stage together to symbolize ethnic harmony'.
Counteracting this heavily censored image are bands such as Shanren ('mountain people'), known for their 'eclectic style — songs move fluidly from electronica to reggae to metal — and arrangements inspired by traditional music from the country’s ethnically diverse southwest, a mélange of loose falsetto harmonies and twangy pentatonic lutes'. Qu Zihan, Shanren's frontman, comments “even though we have rebellious things in our music, they’re really not so obvious...we just want to approach things from a different angle, to make people think.”
Alongside this, Shanren found the time to enter the World Music Network's Battle Of The Bands competition. Click here for a taster of Shanren's music, and if you like what you hear, don't forget to vote!
The article also references Mongolian folk revival band Hanggaias part of this rebellion, who you can listen to on the WMN's release 'Introducing: Hanggai'.