Sing a good story of China with folk songs
Narrator: Wang Erni, a national first-class actor of Beijing Opera and Dance Theatre
When I was a child, when my mother and I went to the fields to do farm work and do housework in the house, my mother would always sing along. She told me that when I sing, I don’t feel tired anymore.
On the yellow land where I grew up, music is everywhere—the boatmen by the Yellow River sing their labor chants; men and women walk on the plateau and sing the high-pitched Xintianyou casually; during the harvest season, farmers are in the fields Encouragement by playing songs; young men and women shyly and enthusiastically sing minor tunes and express their sincere feelings… All these have deeply fascinated me.
When I was about 10 years old, I joined the Yangko team in the village. When I was 13 years old, I learned Qin Opera and became a professional singer. In order to continuously improve myself, I bought a lot of tapes to learn to think. Slowly, I developed my own singing style. I often feel that music seems to be infiltrated in the blood of every person in northern Shaanxi. It roams freely in the vast world, releases the most real joys, sorrows and sorrows in people’s lives, and tugs at the heartstrings of the fathers and the villagers.
In the past, there were relatively few professional folk singers, and many people felt that folk songs were not foreign enough, and some music creators also turned to the current popular song styles. And I never wavered. The more in-depth study and understanding, the more I feel that the lyrics and melody of folk songs are worthy of aftertaste and worthy of our inheritance. For example, “A Pair of Mandarin Ducks Floating on the Water”, “Walking to the West Exit”, “Ge Liang Liang”… The lyrics are vivid and straightforward, the use of repeated words and rhyme makes the song very cordial, and the emotional expression is also very profound. The melody is beautiful and moving, which can be portrayed. Many happy and sad feelings.
In the turbulent revolutionary process, the people of northern Shaanxi borrowed the traditional folk singing method of northern Shaanxi, and used their singing to tell the unremitting struggle against the hard years, and to express their love for the party and the country, such as “Shandandan Blossoms Red and Bright” and “Nanniwan” “”Turn over Taoism”, “The East is Red” and so on. Although life in northern Shaanxi was difficult at that time, the singing conveyed an indomitable personality, strong emotions and a positive and optimistic spirit. In the performance, the audience is always moved by such infectious power.
Now, more and more people are interested in traditional culture, and young people in northern Shaanxi no longer feel that folk songs are too “earthy”. I am very happy to see such a change. At the same time, as the audience gradually became wider, folk songs also had new changes. In the past, many people were skeptical about the innovation of folk songs and worried about losing their original flavor. But today, more and more music creators try to show more diverse styles of folk songs with richer musical elements. The essence of music handed down from generation to generation is valued and cherished by more people.
Since my first album, I’ve been looking for a fusion of heritage and innovation. I have re-arranged, orchestrated and performed many traditional folk songs, making them rejuvenated, keeping up with the times and being sung by more people. Many adaptations of traditional folk songs have become very popular versions now. Once, when I performed abroad, I invited foreign musicians to accompany the symphony. Although they didn’t know much about traditional Chinese music before, they were also infected by it and attracted by Chinese culture. This makes me very proud. In the future, I will insist on inheriting the essence of traditional culture, sing Chinese folk songs and tell Chinese stories well.
(Project team: Guangming Daily reporter Chen Zhiyin, Guo Chao, Zhou Shixing, Hu Xiaojun, Zhang Yong, Wang Simin Guangming Daily reporter Chen Peng)
“Guangming Daily” (August 10, 2022 Edition 07)