=736= Music Talk: On Mandopop and Church Music

I have been thinking about the different music CCAs I could join in uni and I am really sad there isn’t a Mandopop CCA like NUS’ voices. I want to play Mandopop and the closest CCA to it is Blues and Jazz band, which is really out of my comfort zone. There is Hall Jam Band too, but I guess it will mainly be English music.

I always wondered why do I have such an affinity with Mandopop. Is it really out of love for 五月天? Part of the reason I guess.

I think there is also a connection to it because it is my mother tongue. It is the language that I use very often. Many people have said that they feel Mandarin is a heart language while English is more of a head language. Maybe just for Singaporeans, Chinese is used to express feelings and such while English is used for debates and intellectual conversation. For example, I have no clue how to say hermeneutics in Chinese. While on the other hand, 心酸 translated to English is just sour heart. One perfectly describes a feeling of the heart, while sour heart just sounds like a bratty and silly thing to say.

R once told me that because in Mandarin, one character is one syllable, the melodies of a Chinese song can be significantly more colorful than an English song; english tend to slur a bit more.

The most recent Adam Neely’s video talked about how many J-Pop artistes found inspiration from American Jazz Musicians. You can watch it here. It discusses how language inspires their music, it then goes on further to talk about how interesting it is that Japanese musicians find inspiration from American Jazz music to create something new, American musicians are now getting inspiration from Jap music to create something new and different.

That made me think quite a bit, perhaps I have such an affinity with Mandopop because our local church music finds inspiration from Mandopop. Let me explain.

There is this thing that Mandopop ballads always do that I think it is almost a signature to the genre. Mandopop songs love to stopstart at the climax, perhaps a chorus, sing the chorus broodingly, then come right back in, in the middle of the chorus possibly with plenty of punches. This creates a feeling of release, then pulls you back to an even higher level of dynamics.

You seldom hear this in English music. Stopstarts in English music typically just stop for a short time, perhaps two counts to give a dramatic impact, but seldom half a chorus. Even if they drop, they would slowly come back in gradually, not big and full of accents.

In the local church music, you actually hear this quite often. We love the sound of this dramatic drop then come back! I think that both Mandopop and Church music are both vocal and lyric driven.

I grew up with church music, I listened to Hillsong even before John Mayer or 五月天. That could be the reason that the music is tied so close to my heart and I relate to Mandopop the way I do.

I remember talking about drummers with my friend, saying that Todd Sucherman really have that rock sound. Then, my friend asked, “what kind of a drummer are you?” I replied, “Hillsong.”

While we admire different people for their playing, the sound that we eventually land upon depends on the songs we play the most. I play mostly church music, as a result, I sound more like a church drummer and not let’s say Chad Smith from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. However, because we admire such people, we bring elements that we admire from such people to our playing in church music. I was listening to Wild Horses by Niel Zaza and Todd Sucherman’s playing was so different and creative! I was practicing the verse groove of it and when I prepared for a set, I found that I could add it to “This Is Amazing Grace.”

It was so much fun playing a groove from another song in church music. I think that is how church music evolves. We bring elements from other pieces of music in to create something fresh.

May we always try to play well for you O Lord, may our music be fresh and new!

-Kelvin-

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