With the release of Shang Chi people are seeing the benefit of diverse representations in media. In recent times we had the Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians proving by their box office profits how much they resonated with consumers and satisfied their desires to be portrayed and included in general media as equals. This hegemonic shift has been long in the making and we have movements to be thankful for.
As an Asian musician I am also thankful and proud of the proliferation of K-pop in the western music scene. I’ve been hooked on Black Pink’s ddu-du ddu-du (that’s the actual title) and right now its sitting pretty at 1.6 billion views on Youtube. I remember having debates about equal representation in media, what it means and how to achieve it. It was a complex debate with many moving parts but what I want to focus on now is the idea of blue chip vs red chip, the new-kid-on-the-block syndrome, the exclusive establishment(old boys club) and the Fitzgeraldian old money vs new money. I still maintain that the establishment calls the shots and the new kids have to offer appeasements that conform and profit the former. In other words, it is incumbent on the new kids to ‘fit in’ to the crowd. As a critical musician I see this in the K-pop offerings whose genetic makeup is decidedly western. But I don’t mean to cast that in a bad light as so much as inevitable since we are in a globalised post-internet society that has sped up this process of cultural homogenisation. I just finished reading the third book of the Dune series, and the protagonist evolves through reconciling the host of inner lives rather than by competition to a point where he says,”I am a community.”
I feel a great sense of liberty to know that when I compose a piece music it is in fact, Australian music – no qualifier. It follows then a student who composes a piece of music in class or for their HSC is composing a piece of Australian music – I think this may have powerful implications for the students’ compositional process if communicated properly. As a musician who has gone through that period of impostor syndrome we are well situated to help aspiring musicians to break through those moments of doubt. The conformity that I wrote of above is a starting point, but it does evolve. We eventually start forming our own unique voices: it is the combination our accumulated knowledge and experiences but it bears the distinction of being combinations peculiar only to the individual themselves.
The outstanding moments in my secondary schooling music classes are those times spent making music – ‘making’ music – composing as well as performing. I think they’ve left such lasting impressions because what I was doing was special – it was an imprint of myself, my voice, trying to capture the essence of my being to put it poetically. Now that I put it like that, it makes me realise what an important, critical and formative activity that was and the excitement to know that I will facilitate such sacred activities in the future. An opportunity for students to examine ‘who we be.’