Sunday, October 14, 2012

China Girls n Boys: Hunan Folk Music Journey Pt II

 Picture Postings of Music Makers from Middle Kingdom:

There was music wherever we went in Hunan Province, China.  As explained in the last posting the streets were filled with buskers who played both Chinese and Western melodies. Many of these minstrels were armed with guitars, flutes and even bongo drums to provide music for the passing crowd.  Even in an ancient city called Phoenix, we heard modern music.

During one of our trips we had to run up a hill because of the early morning rain.  We were about to visit the Chiang Kai Shek Museum in Chongqing but took shelter on the way when we chanced upon an outhouse. The large gazebo-like structure was a scene of gaiety and grace.  A  lady was playing on an electronic organ and accompanying another who was singing a Chinese classical song.

There were dancing couples and an audience around them who clapped in tune. We stood in awe as we watched while the rain poured incessantly outside. The Museum which was two minutes away housing many cultural and ancient artifacts had to wait as we were emersed in an unrehearsed cultural show. Although it was cold without, the atmosphere was warm within .

During the Phoenix Ancient City tour, we passed by tourist shops where keepers were selling food, tidbits, curios, clothes and souvenirs.  While the younger ones were selling their wares the elders played on their flutes to entertain the crowd. The odd-shaped flutes emitted the same trill as the Indonesian suling bamboo.

                                         *When China boy meets China girl
                                           In **Chinatown tonight
                                           There'll be such fun
                                           When day is done
                                           In Chinatown tonight.

On the Yangtze cruise itself there was a performance nearly every night on the boat. We didn't realise that our group of glamorous dancers, singers and entertainers who had so much enthusiasm and talent on stage were the same youngsters who looked after our cabins, waited on us at dinner tables, cooked our delicious buffet meals and served us at the counters.  Talk about multi-tasking! 

We were all so grateful that many of us left handsome tips when we disembarked. Thanks to handsome Andy Li (no not Andy Lim) and his crew!  He is multi-lingual and switched from English to Mandarin with ease when he provided live commentaries as we sailed through the river.

We also had a special performance by a group from Australia led by Barry Hunter (he's Brit). They were on the boat with us. You can check them on the RIGHT bar of this blog.

The long six-hour bus trips from one town to another could have taken a toll on us if it weren't for our China tour guide. Born and raised in the same province - she said she lived at one of the foothills of the mountain region - petite Wendy sang Hunan folk songs on the way but because of my poor handling of personal videos I was not able to down-load some of her performances on You Tube.

During the Three Gorges Dam tour we were off-loaded into smaller boats and sampled the sights of the Yangtze tributaries and mini-gorges. The sturdy, serious-looking boatman who looked after us gave a surprise performance when he sang a folk number (gruff but in tune) without accompaniment or music except to the lap, lap, lapping of the river and the soft chug-chug-chugging of the watercraft.

Like I explained, there was music everywhere during our boat excursions and land drives, music that might be alien to some but a joy to others. I wonder why the Chinese need an iPod?

Images: from my iPhone video screen grabs except #6 from You Tube by yangtzerivercruise.
Original article.

*In an RTS (Radio Television Singapore) Talentime 1969 Finalists recording little MARIE TANG sang: 'When China Boy Meets China Girl'. You Tube contribution by lvlalaysiaboleh.

Words and music by Billy Reid. Song originally sung by Dorothy Squires.

**Probably the Chinatowns in the US and Canadian cities like Frisco and Vancouver.


MARIE TANG said...

**A Note from Marie Tang:

Hi Andy,
1969 Talentime winner, Eunice Sim and 1968 winner, The TidBits. Many mistook me for one of the TidBits, but I'm not. I sang solo in 1968 To Sir With Love and 1969, When China Boy Meets China Girl. The recording contract went to The TidBits.
Thanks for bringing back the good old memories !

20th May, 2010.

MARIE TANG said...

1969 Talentime... Host, Larry Lai - addressed him as Uncle Larry then - best host in Singapore, compared to some of the existing ones.

Uncle Charlie (Charles Lazaroo) was such a wonderful and helpful musician.

21ST MAY, 2010.

CHINA DOLL said...

NB: The popular 50s song by Slim Whitman, 'My China Doll' refers to a small porcelain doll that is placed on the shelf for decoration.

The song is not about the real China dolls (girls) found in dragon country today.


Hunan (湖南; pinyin: Húnán) is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the south-central part of the country to the south of the middle reaches of the Yangtze River and south of Lake Dongting (hence the name Hunan, which means "south of the lake".

Hunan is sometimes called and officially abbreviated as "湘" (pinyin: Xiāng) for short, after the Xiang River which runs through the province.

Hunan borders Hubei in the north, Jiangxi to the east, Guangdong to the south, Guangxi to the southwest, Guizhou to the west, and Chongqing to the northwest. The capital is Changsha.



Nice to see so happy in the pix. Let go n set yourself... like those early years; the boat may even stop...


ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Hi Ahyar,
Thanks for the kind thoughts and visit.


Hi Andy,

Hope you had a good trip & are thoroughly rested :)

Best wishes
Barry Hunter.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Hi Barry,

I did. Glad to have met you on the trip. Lots in common: music and discs. Wow!

Will write soon.


Hi Andy,

Just looked at your blogspot, very impressed!

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thank you Barry. Welcome to Singapore pop 60s and its influence from all over.


Live Music in Chongqing: A Sight for Sore Ears

Comment By Alex Dweezy Dwyer

Let's face it — China isn't exactly known for its modern day live music scene.

That's not to say that there isn't an increasing number of quality artists coming to tour in China or that the domestic scene isn't producing artists.

In many places in China, it's rare to find a live show of any kind — much less an artist or genre of music you are passionate about.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Hi Alex,

I found pop 60s and Western music at some of the places I visited, especially at some street corners and, the other extreme, at the best hotels in Hunan.

It will take time I suppose. But your article is interesting and informative.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks to Barry for his Australian Choir on You Tube. I am impressed by the singing and poetry writing and reading too.

I have posted it on my blog's RIGHT BAR.