5. Landscapes and Flower Songs: Proposing the Hypothesis of Agriculturalist-Pastoralist Coalescence as the Origin of Hua’er Festivals

Cultural Mapping and Musical Diversity - Britta Sweers

Lukas Park [+-]
Independent Scholar
Lukas Park is an independent researcher. From 2015 to 2018 he was assistant professor of ethnomusicology at the Soochow University School of Music in China. He completed his Ph.D. in musicology in 2015 at the University of Vienna, with specializations in the fields of ethnomusicology and sinology, and further studied at Fudan University and Qiqihar University. His academic interests focus on Chinese culture and music, especially rock and folk music.


In order to illustrate how far music has been shaped by environmentally influenced living styles, this chapter focuses on hua'er, a vocal folk music style sung in China's ethnically diverse northwest. During the field research, one interlocutor, himself being an expert researcher on hua'er culture, offered a hypothesis of the probable origin of hua'er music: He proposed that hua'er, and especially hua'er festivals, are a result of the intermixing of pastoral and agricultural societies and lifestyles. The lyrics of hua'er songs are frequently connoted with sexual topics and activities, and the actual coalescence of nomad and farming cultures might indeed have happened right at the hua'er festivals. At these annual gatherings, many singers of different ethnic groups, cultural backgrounds, religions, and geographical areas meet and engage in singing with each other. Occasionally, sexual activities offside the main performances have been accounted for. This chapter thus aims to scrutinise the feasibility of these landscape-related activities being a probable driving force for the origin of hua'er festivals. Furthermore, also the circumstance why so far nobody has published this theory, albeit being very obvious, is scrutinised. Drawing on expert interviews and social media inquiries as researching methods, results point to both, academic as well as ideological grounds, being the reason why scholars are hesitant to publish this hypothesis of origin.

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Park, Lukas. 5. Landscapes and Flower Songs: Proposing the Hypothesis of Agriculturalist-Pastoralist Coalescence as the Origin of Hua’er Festivals. Cultural Mapping and Musical Diversity. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Mar 2020. ISBN 9781781797594. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=35828. Date accessed: 21 Aug 2019 doi: 10.1558/equinox.35828. Mar 2020

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