It’s about two weeks since I came to China. I’ve already learned some things about myself (mostly not to worry too much) and faced some questions about art and identity which will most likely influence me in the time to come.
The first week was mostly about organizing my stay here and doing mandatory things like getting a chinese mobile phone number and so on. It took some time to get accustomed to the fact that for some more complex tasks I need help, mainly because I can’t speak or understand Chinese that well. A very interesting thing I noticed, is how I react to myself when I face a problem. I think it’s completely normal to be a little bit insecure in the first days in a different country, especially if you don’t speak the language well and it is the first time you’re abroad. Nevertheless I was so frustrated by this reaction and by myself, before I realized, that I can’t get accustomed to a place on a different continent over night and that I probably don’t need to be so strict with myself and it’s ok to be a little irritated sometimes.
In the second week I took part in the brand strategy workshop of Jan Stael von Holstein and had meetings with different teachers, which were very interesting. I showed them some of my projects which were received very well and think I found some areas where I can make myself helpful in the near future.
Apart from the lectures in the brand strategy workshop, the students had to work in groups on a concept for Skoda’s booth at the AutoChina in Beijing in 2016, which had to be presented on Friday in front of representatives of Skoda. This was my first bigger presentation I held in English. Apart from some minor shortcomings in the way I presented and considering the short time we had I was pretty content with myself and the representatives seemed to like it too. Maybe there will be more to read from Skoda in the future.
In the Tongji Sound Art Seminar by Mr. Cao Han I held a little presentation about my work on the trailer of Once by Jana Schell and assisted him in teaching the students. While giving feedback to the students about their sound logos for the Tongji University, I explained the importance of a musical language, which fits the Chinese identity of this Institution, as many of their works had strong connections to western popular music. This sparked a little discussion about cultural identity in times of globalization. This discussion and the questions raised in its course left a lasting impression on me. Because as a german musician I could draw a lot from the rich cultural history. But when I look at my musical socialization I have to admit that the past is not that relevant to me as an artist. For example I came to making music by listening to Hiphop which stems from African American culture. And only as I learned about composition and music theory was I confronted with Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and all of Europe’s great artists. Some of their music is not even my taste of music if I’m honest, and sometimes I get the feeling that I should be ashamed of that, being a composer and all.
But the question remains: Is a national or continental cultural history even relevant in finding a musical language today in times of globalization and the internet? I think it is relevant to study everything you can get your hands on, to get inspiration and to learn about different techniques, you can use to make music. But with the surplus supply of music, old and new, I don’t know if knowledge of a common canon is necessary to make never heard of music. I think I just find it difficult to see myself as someone who is in some way connected to the past of German or European culture. Mainly because I don’t identify myself with any nationality. Of course that does not mean the way Western people tend to look at the world does not influence me. But I think my time abroad will give me some interesting insights on this topic. So let’s see what happens next.