Home » The Timeless Legacy of Wang Liping: The Eternal Melody of ‘A Dream of Red Mansions’

The Timeless Legacy of Wang Liping: The Eternal Melody of ‘A Dream of Red Mansions’

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“The people need such writers and artists”

Wang Liping: The lingering sound lingers for more than thirty years

Guangming Daily reporter Liu Jiangwei

Some people say that China’s “Dream of Red Mansions” is the “Dream of Red Mansions” by three people – the novelist Cao Xueqin created “Dream of Red Mansions”, director Wang Fulin let the audience see “Dream of Red Mansions”, and composer Wang Liping composed “Dream of Red Mansions” into a well-known musical melody.

The song “Wonderful Ningmei” tells the story of Baoyu and Daiyu’s alliance of wood and stone, and sings out the lingering pathos of Baoyu and Daiyu’s love. In the early summer of 1987, the TV series “Dream of Red Mansions” was launched. Countless viewers were immersed in the ups and downs of the characters’ fates. In the aria of the theme song “Wang Ning Mei”, they lamented the decline of the Grand View Garden and wept for Bao Dai’s love.

Time flies by, and the ingenious works of that year have already become immortal classics. The 1987 TV series “Dream of Red Mansions” and its music were written into the history of Chinese literature and art and are still talked about today. According to incomplete statistics, the music album “Dream of Red Mansions” has sold more than 20 million copies in more than 30 years, creating a myth in the history of music album release.

How are classic film and television music composed? What is the touching story behind it? With such questions, the reporter interviewed the 83-year-old famous composer Wang Liping.

The Cao Xueqin Memorial Hall is located in the National Botanical Garden. It is ancient, simple and solemn. The interlude melody of the TV series “A Dream of Red Mansions” played on a loop makes visitors feel like they have entered a classic time and space.

Wang Liping set the interview location here. He said that this is a look back and a tribute again. “For all those involved in the creation, the glory has long passed, just like the waves slowly calming down. But in everyone’s hearts, what will never fade is the respect for Cao Xueqin and the A deep respect for traditional classics.”

Once is like a dream, never wake up. Recalling the days when he was immersed in creation, the time spent thinking hard under the lamp, and the moments when inspiration came and he cried with joy, like an old song that has been hummed countless times, it has been lingering in Wang Liping’s mind for a long time.

In 1983, Wang Fulin began to prepare for the filming of the TV series “Dream of Red Mansions”. Music editor Wang Zhifu asked Wang Liping if he was interested in composing the music. Wang Liping blurted out: “I am interested, very interested.”

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At that time, Wang Liping had already composed many songs such as “Island on the Sun”, “Camel Bell”, “Ocean, Hometown”, and “Shepherd Song”. Composing music for the TV series “Dream of Red Mansions” has always been his wish. “I am an out-and-out ‘Red Man’ fan, and I have always had a dream to compose it into music.”

However, turning dreams into reality is not easy. In the novel, the characters are rich, the scenes are clear, and the details are full. Even the clothes and food are described in detail, but there is not a single note. what to do? Wang Liping’s previous emotions, excitement, and passion all solidified one by one.

Wang Liping dove into the set and followed the director to look at the scenery and ponder the script. The TV series was filmed for four and a half years, and he stayed on the crew for four and a half years. Wang Fulin lamented at the time that nowadays, when composing music for film and television, it usually takes the composer more than ten days to compose the music after the initial cut of the film. Wang Liping was the first to join the group, and the main actors were not yet in place at that time.

During this period, Wang Liping read through all versions of “A Dream of Red Mansions”, carefully studied and deduced it repeatedly. “The Song of Burial Flowers” was made by grinding it. “In the past, people mostly understood “Ode to Buried Flowers” as crying and extremely sad. Can this express Cao Xueqin’s heavy writing?” Wang Liping kept asking himself.

He put the lyrics of “The Burial Flower Song” on the table and read them several times a day. One day, he suddenly discovered, “Where is the fragrant hill at the end of the sky?” This is not burying flowers with one’s head down, but clearly asking the sky with one’s head raised. “I want to vent my anger for Cao Xueqin, Lin Daiyu, and all the tragic women in the play.” He spent a year and nine months on this piece alone.

Not only “The Flower Burial Song”, but also the 13 pieces of music in the play are Wang Liping’s emotional works. They are the spiritual whispers of the children of the Grand View Garden, the externalized emotions unique to “A Dream of Red Mansions”, and the musical poems he dedicated to Cao Xueqin. Some scholars commented that Wang Liping used music to build a bridge between history and reality, with a unique sense of three-dimensionality and appeal.

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Do you have any folk remedies for creating art? “No!” The thick lenses could not hide the determined expression, “A composer must be good at transferring heat, warming the hearts of the audience, and letting them feel and accept your heat.” Wang Li often says that music is like a hand warmer. If it doesn’t warm itself, how can it warm others?

In 1980, he was invited to compose the theme song “Camel Bell” for the movie “Passengers in Handcuffs”. At that time, electroacoustic instruments were all the rage. However, he avoided trends and chose traditional folk music such as pipa and erhu. “”Camel Bell” is about comrades-in-arms. How can electric instruments express the sadness of separation?” When writing lyrics like “comrades-in-arms, comrades-in-arms, dear brothers,” he usually responds with passionate expressions, but he wrote “Be careful.” The north wind is cold in the middle of the night.” “You see, just like family members saying goodbye, the revolutionary friendship suddenly gained warmth.”

When composing the theme song for the movie “The Sea Is Calling”, Wang Liping thought over and over again and didn’t know how to write. How can we express the common emotions of seafarers? “Mother!” inspiration suddenly struck him, “Yes, only mother’s love is the most touching.” He picked up the pen and immediately wrote the lyrics and music. The song “Ocean, Hometown” sings the implicit love of people all over the world for their mothers, and also expresses the heart of a child in a foreign land.

In his creation, Wang Liping has a stubborn spirit: others think it is acceptable, but in his opinion, it is not acceptable; others think it is adequate, but he thinks it is unqualified. “Don’t be satisfied with one’s own merits and one-shot insights when creating. You must be willing to tolerate it in your creation, and try your best to make your works as perfect as possible and strive for excellence.”

In 1981, Hong Kong director Zhang Xinyan asked Wang Liping to compose the music for the movie “Shaolin Temple”, but he didn’t even have decent lyrics at the time. The director patted him on the shoulder and said that in Hong Kong, everyone writes the melody first and then writes the lyrics. However, Wang Liping insisted on having words first. Time was very tight, so he wrote two lyrics by himself: one was “Shepherd’s Song” and the other was “Shaolin, Shaolin”. The director was shocked after seeing it and was full of praise. A few days later, when he hummed to the crew, everyone applauded with excitement.

It was unanimously approved by everyone, but Wang Liping himself was not satisfied. He secretly thought that “Shepherd’s Song” was written in “Henan style” and incorporated many Henan opera tunes. However, the story of the movie takes place in the Tang Dynasty, and there was no Henan Opera yet, so it is not consistent with historical facts. Besides, the movie is targeting the global market. Outside of Henan, who knows about Henan Opera? He insisted on recomposing the music.

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Singer Wang Jieshi has collaborated with Wang Liping many times. He said that every time he recorded a song, Wang Liping had to watch it until the end and polish it repeatedly. Sometimes he would go to Dongfang Lubai, so sleepy that he couldn’t open his eyes, and would snore loudly in the recording studio… classic That’s how it was made.

He has given shape to music throughout his life, music has been integrated into his life, and creating for the people has become his life’s mission. Not only does he want to write a good lyric or compose a beautiful song, he wants to open up a path and hold up a sail for Chinese music.

In 1993, the China Music Copyright Association was established, and Wang Liping was appointed as the chairman of the association. Music copyright protection has embarked on the road of legalization and internationalization. Lyricist Qiao Yu once said to him: “If I build a monument for you, it won’t be “Dream of Red Mansions”, but the Music Copyright Association.” After his retirement, Wang Liping spent 10 years editing a total of 11 volumes of “A Hundred Years of Yuefu-China” “breaking latest news of Modern Songs” allows the music listened to by the ears to stay on paper and be engraved in history…

Over the years, he has been preparing for the musical “Dream of Red Mansions”. Every time he thinks of “A Dream of Red Mansions”, Wang Liping always feels that his feelings are lingering and his thoughts are not yet exhausted. “The feeling of composing music for TV series and musicals is very different.”

In order to attract young audiences, he paid attention to many musical theater performances at home and abroad. “The form will draw on excellent Western works, but the foundation must be local and national.” Wang Liping revealed, “There will be real Chinese arias in this play.”

Wang Liping has always insisted that the pursuit of his music is never “three days of music”, but “30 years of music”. The music of the TV series “Dream of Red Mansions” has been popular for 37 years. He hopes that the musical “Dream of Red Mansions” will accompany the audience into the next 30 years.

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