Category Archives: music

Tsung Tsung is why I am bullish on China

Video below was taken about a year ago, then 5-year old Tsung Tsung exhibiting what a piano prodigy he was. This is obviously raw talent and true passion. It would have been a shame for not Tsung Tsung’s parents affording him the piano and the lessons. Tsung Tsung is another example of why I am bullish on China. The hundreds of millions of Chinese finally moving out of the farms, away from playing in the dirt, are finally getting a chance to unleash their potential. That’s all due to stable development. When James Fallows told the Anglophone media that the Chinese have no dream, well, we were the first to tell him: shove it!

Suzhou Pingtan (苏州评弹): 姑苏十二娘

A civilization of 1.3 billion and having a continuous history of thousands of years can only mean one thing: it’s language and culture should have both amazing breath and depth. One of my hobbies is to rediscover this richness that’s accorded me through my heritage. I want people around me to relish in what Chinese culture has to offer. Recently, I discovered Suzhou Pingtan (苏州评弹), an interesting oral artform accompanied usually by musical instruments or props to tell a story. Its roots are Suzhou and Jiangsu (江苏) in the 1600’s. The performance below is done by a large group, a modern rendition I suppose, though I think two or three performers are the norm. I lament my Chinese language is poor, because the prose and the stories are often delivered in amazing eloquence (Chinese language can be extremely compact while character combinations provide context enabling further reduction in number of characters needed).

Abigail Washburn: Building US-China relations … by banjo

As Abigail Washburn shows us with her banjo and music, it’s actually really easy to connect with the Chinese and yet be so captivating. What an awesome soul!


When America throws her weight around with petty politics, she is squandering her privileged position to affect our world towards greater good. Judging from the audiences response, I guess I am encouraged her message is not lost. To the Americans who engage China and the world with a heart like Washburn, bless you.

On China’s Got Talent, husband begs for a chance for his wife to sing

I came across this video couple of days ago of a failed performance on China’s Got Talent, but the contestant begged the judges instead for a chance for his wife to sing. I was deeply moved by this couple, their modest means to life. The song the wife end up singing is about a toast between two friends. In many ways, the song is about the two of them too. Friendship alone can defeat a mountain of bitterness. When thinking about China’s last couple of centuries, I am of the same mood too.

“Because of Love” by a father and his 3 years old daughter

June 1 is the official children’s day in China. To the fathers who are musicians, athletes, artists, or simple laymen who have found ways to impart something they love to their children, it’s pure bliss. Following performance is by a singer with his 3 years old daughter, titled, “Because of Love” (“因为爱情“). It has become a big hit in China. Happy Children’s Day! Continue reading “Because of Love” by a father and his 3 years old daughter

Taking the good parts

Following is a rendition of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” in Chinese. It’s a delightful performance. The Chinese performance struck me for having taken the music (in my opinion the great part) and replacing the lyrics (in my opinion the not so great part) with something that is much more palatable. While China has many problems to overcome, she is also benefiting from experiences in societies abroad. The benefit of coming from behind is you have the luxury to pick and choose. Not to mention, who would imagine there’s a connection between Lady Gaga and grandma’s and grandpa’s in China!

【每日歌曲 720HD】”寒江雪” by 储兰兰 and 郑源

Some poetry buffs may want to offer a translation for the following song. My take is it is about ‘departure’ between a couple. The mood of it might resonate with some of you, perhaps over those who departed in the recent train crash and bus accident. The song is neat in combining modern pop and traditional Chinese opera. I have always appreciated Chinese artists who bridges the past with the new, linking the older generation with the young. (Another example here.)


(Tudou.com version)
Continue reading 【每日歌曲 720HD】”寒江雪” by 储兰兰 and 郑源

Triumph

Following is a story of triumph about 高逸峰 (Gao Yifeng) on the wildly popular “中国达人秀” (“China’s Got Talent”) show. According to the Baike page, Gao once owned a very large business. Through mismanagement, his company went bankrupt. He re-emerged into a much more modest endeavor. Below is my translation of his conversation with the judge before he performs, “从头再来.” This song is one of my favorite, and with Gao bearing his battle scar while performing it, I can see how he was able to move his audience to tears.

Judge: What are you performing?
Gao Yifeng: Sing a song
Judge: Where are you from?
Gao Yifeng: Anhui
Judge: How old are you?
Gao Yifeng: 49
Judge: Your hair is very special. It looks great. Did you color it or is it naturally that way?
Continue reading Triumph

Tibet’s “天路” (“Heaven Road”)

The video below is about the 青藏铁路 (Qingzang railway) connecting Tibet Autonomous Region’s Lhasa and Qinghai Province’s Xining. Much of the 2000km railway is an engineering marvel. One, for it’s 5000 meter elevation and rough terrain and another for where the tracks have to work on top of permafrosts (where the ice could melt depending on the time of the year). It opened in 2006 connecting the autonomous region to the rest of China’s railway networks. Singers 阿兰达瓦卓玛 (Alan Dawa Dolma, or simply known as Alan or 阿兰) and 韩红 (Han Hong) performed “天路” (“Heaven Road”) in tribute to this important project that Dr. Sun Yat-sen had first proposed around the turn of the century.
Continue reading Tibet’s “天路” (“Heaven Road”)

How to win the hearts and minds of 1.3 billion Chinese people

Serenade Chairman Mao and pay homage to the Communist Party as Nigerian born Uwechue Emmanuel (in Chinese, 郝歌 (Hao Ge)) managed to do on CCTV through popular Chinese song, “草原上升起不落的太阳.” Chinese people love their motherland and harmony. Intonation must be impeccable. Race is irrelevant.


(Tudou.com version here)

“中国之最” by 徐子巍 and 姚贝娜

徐子巍 and 姚贝娜 are incredible vocalists. I love their voices. Great looking duo too. Here, they sing “中国之最,” about various geographies making China special. How about that? China is able to cherish such things; why won’t the West reach within and find few things to celebrate? To me, this is a big cultural difference.


(tudou.com version)

大汗颂 (Great Khan) by 郭尔罗斯组合 (Gorlos Band)

Below is a performance by the Gorlos Band (郭尔罗斯组合), entitled “Great Khan” (“大汗颂”), at a music competition carried on CCTV. There is a mixture of throat singing and the Mongolian morin khur. It’s a really neat composition to say the least. The thing that struck me while watching this video is the fact that China’s continued lifting of millions of people out of poverty means more people will be freed to pursue other activities like music and art. More Chinese becoming more affluent means there will be greater demand and thus market for things uniquely whatever China is a composite of. Mongolian, Tibetan, Han, or whatever the inspiration, we are certain to see the ongoing explosion of things to come that is of China.


(Tudou.com version if you are inside China)

One Billion People on the Move

About a year ago, I wrote, ““Father’s Prairie, Mother’s River” – the feelings of one billion people on the move.” I estimated China in few decades will have moved about one billion people from the country side into cities. Yes, that’s one billion people! This is a stressful but necessary transformation as China continues to industrialize. Below is that same video I used in the original post to help illustrate one of the feelings of this transformation – that of longing for childhood home (for lyric and meaning follow link to my original post):




Continue reading One Billion People on the Move

Armless Pianist Liu Wei, an inspiration for the world, wins ‘China’s Got Talent’

Few weeks ago I made a brief intro to armless pianist Liu Wei on “China’s Got Talent.” Liu Wei has now won. Lyndsey Parker has followed the competition, and here she continued her coverage, “Armless Pianist Liu Wei Wows & Wins On ‘China’s Got Talent’.”

And this past weekend, Liu won the entire competition with a tear-jerking and inspiring performance of James Blunt’s “You’re Beautiful”–complete with English-language singing–in front of a capacity audience at Shanghai Stadium.

Continue reading Armless Pianist Liu Wei, an inspiration for the world, wins ‘China’s Got Talent’

中秋節, Mid-Autumn Festival

中秋節, Mid-Autumn Festival (or Moon Festival) is one of the most widely celebrated holidays in China, perhaps second only to the Spring Festival (or the Chinese New Year). For 2010, it falls on September 22nd. It coincides with a full moon on the 15th day of the 8th month on the Chinese calendar, so there is no fixed date according to Gregorian. That has been the way mid-autumn was figured since ancient times.

“Mid-Autumn” first appeared in “Rites of the Zhou”, a collection of ritual matters of the Western Zhou Dynasty some 3,000 years ago. During the Tang Dynasty (618AD – 907AD), this tradition took a strong foot hold. It celebrates harvests and family reunions. This same tradition exists throughout the rest of Asia today.
Continue reading 中秋節, Mid-Autumn Festival