Alex Ho (RCM) - 2019-20 Students

Navigating and reshaping socio-cultural boundaries through sonic examinations into intersections between Chinese and British cultures

My compositional research is primarily concerned with investigating cross-cultural spaces to explore diasporic narratives. The aim is to shed light on the fluid relationships between diasporic identity and the society in which they are located, emphasizing particularly how they are constantly reimagining, reinventing and reinvigorating each other. 

As a British-Chinese with parents from Hong Kong, I am looking to shed further light on the unique and ever-fluid relationship between Hong Kong, China, and the UK in the hope of affording for a deeper understanding of what it can mean to be British-Chinese in today’s society. My theoretical framework is based on Su Zheng’s ‘Claiming Diaspora’. The book assesses the socio-cultural impact of musical spheres in ‘Chinese America’, interrogating their roles in forming diasporic identity and culture. My research will extend Zheng’s investigation of ‘diaspora’ as an effective means of “illustrating…[the] past and present social and cultural experiences and [the] structures of feelings, memories and imaginations” of multi-cultural individuals and communities (Zheng 2011:11). 

This raises questions regarding the perception of sounds within a cultural context. Indeed, the synergy of Chinese and western musical elements has remained enigmatic for listeners looking to describe such music and its creators. Tan Dun has found, “In Europe… everyone thinks I’m an American composer….But in America, I’m a Chinese composer” (Yang & Saffle 2017:272). As a consequence, a paradoxical liminal space is seemingly revealed, one that sits uncomfortably with the desire to definitively locate the unfamiliar, suggesting that diasporic cultures can unlock new sounds, ideas, identities, and cultures. Nancy Rao and Zheng have begun exploring this notion, and I intend to examine this further in the realm of composition.

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