China For Music Lovers – The Essential Guide to China's Music Scene

When I think about China, the first things that come to mind are the distinctive architecture; the great wall or the forbidden city, martial arts, the food that is bursting with glorious flavours and, its lively cities like Beijing or Shanghai. However, with every culture comes its music scene, and China's is definitely influential when shaping the people and its place.

The types of music being produced and played vary in and around the country, with Beijing, the modern and lively capital of China, playing a very influential role in the music scene. Here, sounds are becoming more westernised, featuring traditional sounds and instruments representing a more traditional Chinese music scene. In addition to the new styles and music being made, numerous bands and solo artists are making their debuts here, also shaping the ways of the industry. So, if you love music and have China to visit on your bucket list, this is a win-win!
Beijing, China

But what genres will you find here? 🎶

Like everywhere else, China has a blossoming music scene with genres of all sorts. For example, genres include pop, rock, indie rock and punk. The scene is vast and highlights how the artists and bands have their own style and touches on these more commonly 'westernised' genres. Even if you fancy something different and a little less westernised, China has other genres that showcase the country's traditions and culture, such as; Chinese Opera or Chinese folk music.

Regional Music 🎼

China's music scene varies by region, with each location specialising in its own genre. This is because different ethnic groups are found in each area, meaning that the Music is differentiated even further, making it just that bit more special to listen to! So, if you're a music lover and want to experience it all, here is a list of some different regions and their genres:
Hong Kong 🇭🇰
The Music of Hong Kong includes Cantonese Chinese pop music known as cantopop.
Northeast China
A region inhabited by the Manchu group. The most prominent folk instrument is the octagonal drum, while the youyouzha lullaby is well-known.
A province in southwest China. Its capital city, Chengdu, is home to the only musical higher education institution in the region, the Sichuan Conservatory of Music. The province has a long history of Sichuan opera.
Yunnan is an area located in southwest China. Best known from the province is the lusheng, a type of mouth organ used by the Miao people of Guizhou for pentatonic antiphonal courting songs.

Festivals 🎉

No matter your preference, China has a festival that will suit you. There is definitely something for everyone from classical music, rock shows, and outdoor electronic music raves. Here are some top festivals to visit;
Beijing Pop Festival
Every year this festival in the capital city of Beijing in which a wide variety of genres, including jazz, opera, classical music, solo, and choral concerts, is featured. This festival is one of the globes top concerts and has been hosted since 1998! The growing popularity, number of attending artists and scale of this festival makes it a good contender for your China bucket list.
Evergrande Starlight Festival
A national music tour that takes place in multiple locations in China. Not only will you get to experience different bands and artists, but this festival also aims to fill your weekend up with fireworks, audiovisual sites, stage design, and China's hottest artists to take you away from a productive and stressful week at work.
INTRO Music Festival
Being one of China's largest outdoor music festivals, this is definitely a MUST if you're a music lover. Every May, towards the end of the month in Beijing, experience phenomenal digital art and electronic music. The festival pushes the idea of innovation and creating this type of art with its name meaning "Ideas Need To Reach Out". DJ's and VJs are invited from across the globe to perform, and it is a hit! As well as live performances, the festival now offers discussions, workshops and remix competitions!
INTRO Festival, Beijing

China's top artists 🎤

邓丽君 (dèng lì jūn) – Teresa Teng
Possibly the most famous Chinese singer. She started singing professionally as a teenager in the 1960s. She went on to have a steady career until she sadly passed in 1995. She was known for romantic ballads and folk songs. Although most of her songs were covers, her interpretation of many songs is still the most recognised version.
周杰倫 (zhōu jié lún) – Jay Chou
Hit the music scene in 2000, and is well known for popular romantic ballads, but also has many songs that address societal issues like urban sprawl, drug addiction and domestic violence. His music style follows a rap or spoken word style compared to a traditional melodic.
彭丽媛 (péng lì yuán) – Peng Liyuan
Straight from mainland China, she is extremely popular considering she is married to China's most powerful man 习近平 (xí jìn píng). Known for her ballads and folk songs, she is a well-known and loved artist in China.

Starting from Skratch? Here are a few tips to get you started:

China - Facts before you go


🇨🇳 Mandarin


💸 Renminbi (RMB)

Time Zone

China Standard Time


Tipping in Mainland China is not expected or required, and in some places it is even frowned upon.

Known for

🥟 Delicious food

🐼 Pandas

🐉 Chinese New Year

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Imogen Kemp
August 30, 2023
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