“Chopsticks at Dawn” and inauthentic Chineseness

I’ve just listened to a frustrating but interesting documentary on BBC Radio 4 called Chopsticks at Dawn.  You can hear it on the BBC’s iPlayer here, until this coming Saturday:


Presented by Anna Chen, the programme looks at inauthentic Chineseness in music, from Debussy to David Bowie.  It’s an incomplete look at the subject, and I’m afraid I shouted at the radio on a couple of occasions, but it’s worth listening to if you want to find out the (probable) origins of the ‘ning-a-ning-nong’ melody from Kung Fu Fighting.

East-Asian influences in music – real or fake – are something that we’re very interested in, and we discussed the same subject when we appeared on Lucky Cat on Resonance FM a few months ago.

What’s probably more interesting to us is the flow of influence in the opposite direction – how Western pop norms were incorporated into East-Asian rock n’ roll of the 50s and 60s. I’ll gladly make a documentary about it for Radio 4 – they have only to ask.


2 thoughts on ““Chopsticks at Dawn” and inauthentic Chineseness

  1. I listened to the programme last night and, while I’m not a big fan of Anna Chen’s ham-fisted presenting, I did find it quite interesting. There are a few points that I’d like to make about Kung Fu Fighting, Rose, Rose, I Love You, our favourite Orange Blossom Smile and Ryuichi Sakamoto but perhaps I’ll save it for a blog post!

    Can you tell us what made you shout at the radio?

  2. Yes tell us what made you shout at the radio!
    I am not Radio 4 but would gladly collaborate with you to make a doc about the Western influence in East Asian 50s and 60s music for Resonance FM.
    I found the programme interesting but was a bit miffed at why Yao Lee’s Rose Rose I Love You was not actually played. I have a Reggae version of Kung Fu Fighting that I am rather fond of.

    Mei Yau do expand on your reply please…

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