Thursday, February 15, 2018

Gong Xi, Gong Xi (恭喜恭喜) Composer Chen Gexin (陳歌辛) Happy Chinese New Doggie Year

农历新年快乐

Up to 7,200 readers  
to date. Record high  

My Lunar New Year Posting 2018 

The Song:

Like the fun Christmas song, Jingle Bells and other festive oldies played during the season, Chinese New Year (CNY) welcoming Spring songs have fallen into the same collection of a totally commercialised cacophony of chorus vocals, digital keyboard music, clashing cymbals and gong sounds.  

As we usher in the Lunar New Year, the once warm and spirited melodies have now become part of the brash lion dances, red-coloured buntings, lanterns and pussy-willows we find everywhere. And the melodies are played non-stop for three or more weeks.

Like the common ang-pow*, collected during festive time, the song Gong Xi, Gong Xi like other CNY melodies, is just as common and sung extensively during the period with other ones. Sweet melodies have become a ruckus. And sometimes we cover our ears.

姚莉,姚敏 恭喜恭喜 Yao Li, Yao Min 'Congratulations Congratulations' by cdman88.


The Composer:

But here's the punch-line. Gong Xi, Gong Xi isn't a CNY song at all and if you know its origin perhaps you will appreciate this composition with more respect.

In Chinese, Gong Xi doesn't mean Happy New Year but Congratulations or a wish for your happiness and prosperity. It was composed after the second Sino-Japanese War in 1945 to celebrate and honour the freedom China achieved after their victory over Japan.

Famed and accomplished Chen Gexin who introduced Rose, Rose I Love

YouShanghai Nights and The Blossom of Youth to the world, penned Gong Xi, Gong Xi and composed the music in Shanghai in 1945 with much patriotism and fervour. 

During the war and Japanese Occupation, he had been jailed and tortured for writing such songs. Because of his imprisonment, this particular melody was written in a minor key which, according to many musicians, gives the tune a melancholic edge, a tinge of desolation. 

Composer Chen Gexin. (陳歌辛)
The Singers:

But famous Shanghai diva Yao Li, one of the seven respected divas in pre-war China, recorded it with her brother Yao Min and gave it the sparkle. This version doesn't carry the joy and merriment like later versions do but rather a quiet celebration of achievement and freedom (YouTube video). The words echo the sentiments:

After much difficulty

Experiencing so much discipline
How many hearts are looking forward
To the news of Spring
Congratulations (X6).

I had learnt it from my mother but in tune only with its easy refrain. She was a gentle lady who also taught me other Chinese goldies, especially the ones composed from the 1940's and earlier.


Appreciate the song when you hear it now. And don't take CNY for granted.


A Happy Lunar New Year to all.

Connect:


http://singapore60smusic.blogspot.sg/2012/08/searching-for-my-favourite-chinese.html
Yao Li (姚莉)

The Language

Chinese script

Songs:

Gong Xi Gong Xi. (恭喜恭喜)
Rose, Rose I Love You (玫瑰玫瑰我愛你), 
Shanghai Nights (夜上海) 
The Blossom of Youth (花樣年華)

Composer:

Chen Gexin. (陳歌辛)

Singers:

Yao Li (姚莉)
Yao Min (姚敏)

*ang-pow (red-packets with cash).
'Rose, Rose I Love You' composed
by Chen Gexin. (陳歌辛)
This article is an original post and information is derived from my own background and from the Internet.

38 comments:

JAMES SEAH said...

Dear Andy,

恭喜,恭喜

I was not aware that your related blog about the meaningful Chinese New Year song, "恭喜,恭喜" was not intended to be a festive CNY song for celebration.

Thank you and your mother who told the sad story and you have posted the informative blog for us to share

Mothership.SG shared an article on this similar topic I mentioned on my recent blog at:

http://blogtoexpress.blogspot.sg/2018/02/first-favorite-chinese-new-year-song.html?m=1

Warm Regards.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

I have not transferred the New Year greetings received from the email, WhatsApp and this blog but will do so soon. There are a few dozens.

Thanks.

tan510jomast (ex fried ice) said...

so true, in learning mandarin last year, i learn sing nian kuai le is more happy new year, like my dad's servants (which we kids regarded them more like nannies than servants)wished us in cantonese kong hay fatt choy. or my ancestry tongue seng ni huat chye. the tong chiang i hear in the traditional chinese lion dance is said to wish good luck and longevity, and the noise is meant to drive away bad luck and evil spirits from the past years so they don't tag along into the new year.
i love the traditional noises, which is why i too do not use digital drums or a drummer, but as one of my subscriber describe my percussive noises are almost native american, which is not far wrong, as the first drummers were the african tribes who banged on tree logs to send message like the native american drums.
the music of gong xi gong xi is tango , as the chord progression... but if i am not mistaken the melody is a russian classical . perharps horace wee can tune in on this to tell me where the melody and music is taken . still, a beautiful song which sounds perfect in mandarin. i would love to hear this revived and performed by one of those talented youtube chinese lute players or the korean traditional instrument as there are some awesome chinese and korean girls playing even jimi hendrix music on those lovely sound bending lutes. totally out of the box music as my good friend limkiang of straydogs fame say, "matt tan tan510jomast loves to rip the music apart into his own wicked style!" ..of disarray, as andy , you put it... which i so love to be given such accolade of distinction. SING NIAN KUAI LE ~~ rock on , don't forget to come "Jia You"(cheer on) my music in The Year Of The Dog, huh?
as Jimi so puts it, "move over, rover... and let me take over !" arf arf! :)
p.s. something more to your taste here, andy... performed by tan510jomast
with "finesse"... jazz poetry "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X49ulbWwEK4

JANE D. (Manitoba, Canada) said...

And a Happy Lunar New Year 2018 to you and your family too Andy!

What a lovely song "Congratulations ... " is! Very very pretty.

Hope all is well with all of you,
Jane

HENRI GANN (LEAD: THE TREKKERS) CALIFORNIA USA said...

Kung Hee Fatt Choy Andy!

...loving Singapore.

RICKIE CHNG (LEAD GUITARIST SILVER STRINGS GUITAR GROUP said...

Wishing everyone good health, happiness n fulfilment in the Year of the Dog.

SEE CS said...

HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR
YEAR OF THE DOG

AUDIE NG (SILVER STRINGS, LEADER, BASSIST) said...

God of Fortune Bless All of You With Wealth
Cheers

RICHARD RAJOO said...

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2018
U HAVE A BLESSED WEEKEND.

BRENDA (NUS STUDENT) said...

Hi Andy!!
Wishing you and your family a Happy Chinese New Year

EUSOOF ANGULLIA said...

Happy Chinese New Year

JAN CHONG said...

A very Happy and Blessed New Year to you and your wife, Andy.

VICTOR LAM (PERCUSSIONIST: THE MYSTERIANS and THE BURNS said...

3 THUMBS UP.

CHRISTOPHER TOH (JOURNALIST: TODAY) said...

Happy New Year To You And Family

MERLIN LIM (FORMER 'SILVER STRINGS' RHYTHM GUITARIST) said...

3 THUMBS UP

CHARLIE YAP (BAND LEADER, LOCOMOTION, BASSIST) said...

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2018

OLIVER B. (PERCUSSIONIST/ SCHOOL PRINCIPAL) said...

Wishing You A Happy and Prosperous New Year

FREDDIE KANG (THUNDERBIRDS) said...

NEW YEAR GREETINGS.

NALINI said...

HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR TO YOU AND YOUR LOVELY FAMILY

RONNIE SEE (LEADER OF 'THE BURNS') said...

Dear Andy,
Thank you for the good wishes. Wishing you and family a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous Lunar New Year.
Best Regards
Ronnie and Family

JOYCELYN said...

Happy New Year Of The Dog

JOHNSON LEE (PUBLISHER) said...

Dear Andy,
Wishing You Good Health, Good Fortune, Happiness in the Year of the Dog.

FL said...

Hi, Andy and all your blog fans, A very Joyous and Happy Lunar New Year 2018 !! May all of you be granted good fortune, fulfilment and excellent health throughout the year. Young and elderly, let us "Yam Seng"(Cheers !)

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanking all you kind people for the good wishes and comments. I am so glad I posted this little piece about the song and its place in musical history. If there are inaccuracies please let us know as I always appreciate proper narratives which should have a place in our archives too.

GEORGE CHEW (LEAD GUITARIST: THE BURNS) said...

WISH YOU HAPPY LUNAR NEW YEAR

EDDIE WEE said...

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2018

JT CHEN said...

HAPPY AND HEALTHY CHINESE NEW YEAR

JIMMY CHNG (LEAD 'THE DECIBELS' POP BAND) said...

Hi Andy,
Congrats again on yet another milestone achievement. Thank you for your effort and dedication in continually providing readers with interesting articles.

FREDDIE KANG (THUNDERBIRDS) said...

WISH YOU ALL HUAT.

CLARENCE (DRUMMER) said...

WISHING YOU AND FAMILY A BLESSED CHINESE NEW YEAR

EDDIE TOH said...

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2018

AHYAR JAMMARI said...

WISHING YOU AND FAMILY A HAPPY AND PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR

LIM KUAN MIN said...

WISHING YOU AND YOUR FAMILY A HAPPY AND PROSPEROUS CHINESE NEW YEAR GONG XI FA CAI

LARRY LAI (REDIFFUSION DJ 60'S) said...

TO ANDY, R, J AND ALL AT HOME
FROM LARRY AND SELINA

2018
HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR
YEAR OF THE DOG.

MUN CHOR SENG said...

SMILE EVERYDAY
HAPPY NEW YEAR

MICHAEL BANGAR (GUITARIST, BLOG WRITER) said...

happy new year

D. WONG said...

BEST WISHES TO YOU AND FAMILY FOR A HAPPY HEALTHY YEAR OF THE DOG.
GONG XI FA CAI

F. LEE said...

Wishing you and your family a Happy and Prosperous Chinese New Year.
GONG XI FA CAI