The spirit of Chinese creativity in twenty-first-century Cantonese culture

Samuel LEONG

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Strongly influenced by its Confucian legacy, key aspects of Chinese culture have been misinterpreted by many as being ‘uncreative’ through the inappropriate application of Western criteria. Distinct cultural differences between the East and West are manifested in different and sometimes subtle ways, with the East giving more attention to the mastery of skills, the inner experience of personal fulfilment, ideas preceding form, and skill development preceding creative exploration and expression. As China modernizes and transforms into a superpower, the confluences of Eastern and Western cultures are becoming more evident with traditional values intersecting with those of capitalism and internationalization. This is apparent in the Chinese Cantonese culture of Hong Kong. Drawing on two creative and collaborative projects located within Hong Kong’s Cantonese culture, this chapter discusses the issues of identity, authenticity and resilience. It examines the spirit of Chinese creativity as manifested in Cantonese opera and Cantojazz, and discusses how ‘new wine’ has been put into the ‘old bottle’ of Cantonese opera, while ‘old wine’ has been put into the‘new bottle’ of Cantojazz. Copyright © 2014 Margaret S. Barrett and the Contributors.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCollaborative creative thought and practice in music
EditorsMargaret S. Barrett
Place of PublicationVermont
ISBN (Electronic)9781315572635, 9781317164449
ISBN (Print)9781472415844
Publication statusPublished - 2014



Leong, S. (2014). The spirit of Chinese creativity in twenty-first-century Cantonese culture. In M. S. Barrett (Ed.), Collaborative creative thought and practice in music (pp. 127-141). Vermont: Ashgate.