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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



Zhongguofeng music 中国风流行曲 has had an impact on the Chinese pop music industry. Although the style of music uses familiar overtones that have been in wide usage within Western pop music, Zhongguofeng aims to emphasize more of a connection to a unified sense of Chinese culture, ethnicity, and identity. Specifically, I will argue that “Chineseness” is constructed through lyrics, which contain cultural references to the imperial era of China, and accompanying music videos, which provide visual imagery that further draws the viewer into an idealized “China”. In addition, the song’s instrumentals blend Western pop stylings with traditional Chinese instruments and vocal techniques. In this thesis I will use semiotics, or the study of signs and their meanings, to illustrate the listener’s perception of “China” in modern pop music. I will first introduce expressions of “Chineseness” in previous genres of Chinese pop music and then examine well-known Zhongguofeng songs. My goal is to question the nature of “Chineseness” itself and explore the process of “semantic snowballing”, in which terms change over time, depending on the individual performer and/or historical circumstances. I will analyze three different songs by artists from different regions, all released between 2006 and 2007 at the height of Zhongguofeng’s popularity : S.H.E.’s “Chinese Language” 中国话, Vincy Chan’s “Daiyu Laughs” 黛玉笑了, and Wang Lee Hom’s “Mistake in the Flower Fields” 花田错.


First Advisor

Enhua Zhang

Second Advisor

Zhijun Wang

Third Advisor

Margaret Sarkissian

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.