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My Lunar New Year Posting 2018
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 commercialized 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.
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.
Famed and accomplished Chen Gexin who introduced Rose, Rose I Love
You, Shanghai 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)
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
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 1940s and earlier.
Appreciate the song when you hear it now. And don't take CNY for granted.
A Happy Lunar New Year to all.
|Yao Li (姚莉)|
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)
Chen Gexin. (陳歌辛)
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)