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Music Library Thematic Displays: Knoxville Museum of Art Global Asias

This guide showcases resources from the George F. DeVine Music Library centered on specific themes. Selected themes reflect UT School of Music events and programs, as well as cultural celebrations.

Global Asias: Contemporary Asian and Asian American Art

Global Asias is an exhibition of Asian and Asian-American art collected by the John Schnitzer Family Foundation. The exhibition focuses on abstraction, the Asian diaspora, and the blending of traditional techniques with contemporary techniques. All three of these themes are also reflected in the music of the countries represented by the exhibition. The modern music of these five countries are a reflection of their traditional music and instruments and new sounds such as pop and jazz that helped to create and nurture new genres.



China is a vast country made up of many provinces and cultures, and China’s musical culture and history is just as varied as its diverse geographic landscape from the desert mountains of Xinjiang to the coastal and river cities of Zhejiang. There are three aspects of China’s musical history that are distinctly Chinese however. These aspects include China’s national music (Guoye) which is orchestral music using traditional Chinese instruments, Chinese opera (Xiqu) which combined stage performances, dance, acrobatics, and music to tell stories of the history and mythology of China and then shifted to tell stories of the working class after the Chinese Civil War, and folk music which varies based on region and culture but often involves music used for special events or occasions.

Tiqin and erhu

A tiqn and two erhus hanging on a wall

"Chinese Tiqin and Erhu" by quinet is marked with CC BY 2.0.


A person plays a stringed instrument

"Tea Appreciation Demonstration #3" by chooyutshing is marked with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.


A person playing a round string instrument called a yueqin

"Yueqin" by f.xavier.serra is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0.


A lot of the musical culture of Thailand comes from the traditional Thai music that was played in the King’s court. After world war II this classical Thai music merged with Western pop music to create the musical style of the Thai working class known as luk thung. The development and the use of luk thung as a symbol of working class culture and politics is shown in the documentary Two Faces of Thailand by Jeremey Marre. Because of Thailand's geographic position and its political relationship with Laos and Cambodia, much of Thai music pulls influence from those two cultures as well depending on the area.


Five people playing percussive stringed instruments

"Thai khim" by quinet is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0.


Khong wong lek

A wooden structure with a circle of gongs

"Circular Percussion (Khong Wong Lek)" by mikecogh is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0.



A stringed instrument with two fabric strings and one metal string

"File:Chakhe.jpg" by Paul_012 is marked with CC BY-SA 3.0.



Korean music finds its roots in three places: court music from Korea’s monarchy, religious folk music that was used as a shamanistic ritual practice, and western influences which helped both the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea develop their own distinct sub genres of pop and rock while the DPRK’s style of these genres was dedicated to the ideals of the state workers party. South Korean pop music, otherwise known as k-pop has found global mainstream success with groups like BTS, Twice, and Red Velvet touring around the world.


A person holds a bowed string instrument

"haegeum_player_Kang Eun-il_02" by KOREA.NET - Official page of the Republic of Korea is marked with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.



Two people play wooden flutes

"DSC_0047" by Paul in Uijeongbu is marked with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.



A person plays a long metal trumpet

"File:Korea-Nabal-01s.jpg" by by ddol-mang is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0.



The origins of Japan’s traditional music are in the theater, religion, and government of Japan’s history. Music was a large part of Noh and Kabuki theater and narrative song telling using shamisen called Joruri which was popular in the past and is popular today. The religious music of Japan is called shomyo, and it came from the chants that buddhist monks sang in India. Court music (gagaku) is a large part of where Japan’s traditional musical culture has come from and can be broken down into vocal and instrumental music. In the recent past western influences have played a role in creating new popularity in jazz, punk, and pop music in Japan.


Two women wearing kimono playing stringed instruments

"Shamisen" by Joi is marked with CC BY 2.0.



A woman plays a bamboo flute, known as a fue

"Flute 1 - Fuefukuro" by avlxyz is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0.



Five taiko drums on stands

"Toronto Taiko Festival 2012 Saturday Workshops 04" by thelearningcurvedotca is marked with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.



Vietnam’s musical history is very influenced by its political history. The traditional or classical music of Vietnam comes from the music played in the royal court. Then after the revolution music then began to reflect the ideals of the workers party. This music then transformed into music that was influenced by western music creating the unique musical genres of yellow music which is a combination of South American music and Vietnamese music and V-pop which combines Vietnamese music with pop elements, instruments, and production.

Dan Bau

A person plays a one stringed instrument

"vietnamese musical instrument Dan bau 2" by is marked with CC BY 2.0.


Dan Nguyet

A person plays a circular stringed instrument

"File:Dan Nguyet (Vietnamese moon lute).jpg" by Michael Coghlan, photographer is marked with CC BY 2.0.

Dan Tranh

A person plays a zither

"16-String Zither - Ðàn Tranh" by Eustaquio Santimano is marked with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.



(1) "Music of China" by Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. , used under CCAS License 3.0

(2) "Music of Thailand" by Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., used under CCAS License 3.0

(3) "Music of Korea" by Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., used under CCAS License 3.0

(4) "Music of Japan" by Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., used under CCAS License 3.0

(5)"Music of Vietnam" by Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., used under CCAS License 3.0