by Dr Anthony Pun
A few days ago, my Australian high school classmate Alex Heung emailed me an old folk song called the Kangding Qingge” (Chinese: 康定情歌) or the “Kangding Love Song” and with the message: Enjoy this Chinese song sung by Placido Domingo and Song Zuying宋祖英, as a duet and with at the piano by accompanied by the famous Chinese pianist 郎朗 (Lang Lang). José Plácido Domingo Embil, known as Plácido Domingo, is a Spanish tenor and conductor known for his versatile and strong voice, possessing a ringing and dramatic tone throughout its range. As of the end of 2013, he has sung 144 different roles. Born: January 21, 1941 (age 73),
Please see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VY1j3jDw4U0
Without any knowledge of the content, I clicked the link on reflex, and started to watch the video. The performance was introduced by an accomplished pianist playing an oriental composition similar to the superb mixture of East and West composition of “Yellow River Concerto” As the bars ticked passed, my ears started to prick up as the melody began to stir up my memories of 50 more years ago. Before, the singing began, I began to hum the melody despite it being disguised by Western accompaniment, with the principal part played in a Chinese music scale with a western minor key. When the singing broke up, it confirmed that I was humming the right tune. And when they sang. I could sing with them, the lyrics that I could remember as a child. The highlights of the song were the East-West piano score, the rich soprano by Ms Song and surprising, a Western baritone singer joining in as a duet. It was a nostalgic moment as it brought back many memories of the early 1950s in Ipoh/Menglembu where in Chinese school concerts almost every time, it would have some performer singing this beautiful Sichuan folk song.
After I forwarded the link to SC, an old classmate from ACS Ipoh, he replied:
I sang this song in my school singing competition when I was in standard five. I can’t remember if I won any price. Most beautiful part of the Chinese lyrics of the song is the phrase 溜溜的 (liuliede) without liuliude, the Chinese lyrics will be flat. Literally liuliude means ichiban, superb. You may want to include this in the translation. (Best rgds, Siew Chuan)
NB: (liuliude 溜溜的 or (yiliuliu一溜溜) or (Japanese ichiban), meaning the best
Well, before that I only recognised it as a Chinese folk song, and I only learned that it was a Sichuan folk song some hours ago. Before long, I started to do some research on this song and came out with interesting story behind the author of this song.
The song writer was Li Yi-Ruo, a native of Sichuan and he fell in love with classmate, a Miss Li. It was taboo to marry a person of the same surname. Despite parental objections they both decided to move away from their village. There was no happy ending to this story as the taboo traditions was too strong to overcome. However, Li wrote this song to commemorate their relationship
For a solo version of the song sung by Song Zuying please visit:
The story below is from this source:
Kang Ding Love Song is one of the most popular Chinese folk songs. Its simple melody and vivid rhythm are easy to remember and sing, and its lyrics tell a timeless theme — LOVE.
Behind this famous folk song, there are two stories. One is inside the music – how it was written; the other is outside the music, how it became well-known. Let’s me tell them one by one.
Kang-Ding Love Song: The Story Inside
“Kang-Ding Love Song” was a folk song born in the 1930s in Kangding (Sichuan) by a local musician named Li Yi-Ruo from Xuanhan (Sichuan). He wrote this song based on his own true romantic story:
When he was attending college in Chengdu, Li fell in love with a classmate from Kangding. His parents did not agree on their relationship because her surname is also Li. Then he broke up with his parents and lost their financial support for schooling and living expenses. Thanks to all the help from Miss Li’s that Yi-Ruo was able to finish his college.
Influenced by feudal ethics, the relationship between Li Yi-Ruo and Miss Li of Kang-Ding did not have a happy ending. Yi-Ruo had travelled to Kang Ding with Miss Li. In order to commemorate this relationship, Yi-Ruo wrote this folk song titled “Horse riding high upon the mountain side”.
Li Yi-Ruo taught local people to sing this song and they loved it, calling it “Horse Ride Song”. One guy named Ou said Yi-Ruo taught him this song when he had dinner with Yi-Ruo. He thought the title was “Song of Kang-Ding Town”. And the lyric was different, including a sentence about “labor is good”, and the guy’s name in the lyrics was “Li” instead of Zhang.
This song gradually spread locally in the 1940s. In mid-40s, a student from Fujian named Wu Wenji studied at the Qingmuguan National Music School in Chongqing. He collected this song from the soldiers from Kangding.
Then he handed in this song to his teacher Wu Zhengqian. Wu liked it a lot, so he requested Jiang Dingxian (a famous musician at the Composition Department) to rearrange the accompaniment for better recording and singing.
When Jiang Dingxian finished the accompaniment, he renamed its original title “Horse riding high upon the mountain side” into current “Kangding Love Song”. Later, Wu Zhengqian sang the song for the first time at a school concert.
Later, Jiang Dingxian recommended this song to the then popular singer Yu Yixuan. The same year in Nanjing, Yu Yixuan held a personal concert singing this song publicly. It became part of her repertoire afterwards. She sang the song everywhere she went, from Nanjing to the Northwest, domestic and abroad, which made “Kangding Love Song” spread throughout the world.