Saturday, June 25, 2005

Folk/Traditional/老 Songs

I was listening to some Taiwanese 老歌 in my mp3 collection and was thinking if there's a Singapore equivalent for these types of songs. The first that came to my mind was the lovely 'dayong sampan'. Other than it's about a boat, I don't know much about it. Googling pointed to the existence of a symphonic interpretation for the piece. So that's nice. And it's not available on any file sharing network so I can't enjoy it now anyway! Australia should have nice folk songs too, I like I Still Call Australia home, probably not a dry eye in the house cabin when one hears it on a Qantas flight after years away from home... If culture is artificially constructed, then probably Singapore needs a whole lot of it since she's a relatively new country. Right now, the government wants to eradicate Singlish (probably one of the most efficient languages in the world), but I wonder how else to build culture? Food is certainly one thing most locals are proud of. The airport is another. But things like folk songs are most probably already passe. So what do we leave for future generations? Repeats of National Day songs, probably. hehe So since I'm stuck and can't go further with sampan, and with the aim of improving my Hokkien, this entry is about one old song called 月夜愁 (moon night worry), composed in the 1930s during the Japanese occupation in Taiwan. Here's some background. It's the poignant sort of song... So here are the lyrics. And you can download this file (10 mb) for the next 7 days. It contains three versions by 凤飞飞, 蔡琴 and the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra. The performance from the SSO is from a 12-CD collection called 中國交響世紀 that features both mainland Chinese and Taiwanese traditional and more recent folks songs. It's really quite fantastic.
月色照在 三线路 风吹微微 等待的人 那未来 (The moonlight on the three-lane road, gentle winds, the man I await, why isn't he here?)

心内真可疑 想抹出 彼个人 啊...怨叹月暝 (My heart is suspicious, I want to decipher him... haiz...blame sigh moon dark)

更深无伴 独相思 秋蝉哀啼 月光所照 的树影 (It's getting late and I've no company... pondering alone...the wailing mourn of an autumn cicada...the moonlight cast shadows from the trees)

加添我伤悲 心头酸 目屎滴 啊...忧愁月暝 (My sadness is increased, my heart is sour, tears fall...haiz... worrisome dark moon)

敢是注定 无缘份 所爱的伊 因何伊乎 放抹离  (Has destiny decided we aren't fated to be together? blah blah...)

梦中来相见 断肠诗 唱抹止 啊...忧愁月暝 (See you in my dreams...blah blah...)

Some of the translation is a bit 'off', and blah blah onwards means I don't understand it! The three lane road refers to the traffic island between two roads where lovers can meet and walk together. Nowadays, it's too dangerous to do such things LOL


Anonymous said...

dayung (dayong?) sampan reminds me of "tian mi mi". hehe

well, why do you think it's important to remember our culture? and why do we need to build a culture?


KnightofPentacles said...

why do you think it's important to remember our culture? and why do we need to build a culture?

Because culture for me helps to define who and where I am relative to the society that I live in.

Without such 'identification', one becomes disconnected and unglued from the fellow humans that share the immediate living space and resources.

Without culture, the individual becomes more of an anonymous replacable digit - a mere cog that can be easily replaced by an identical replacement cog from taken from any other location in the great machine.

jeffyen said...

hmm youthegirl... yeah hor!! WHY?!! Why do the two songs have the same melody?!! arghhhgh! Who copied whom?! Is this yet another 'Merlion' myth?! LOL

Reminds me of ACS' school song. I'm just going to do some research on this... oh no, bad news! To be continued...

Yeah, I think knight says it well. Also, I think culture is important because it creates a sense of ownership and identification in her people. What does it mean to be a Singaporean? So, one big problem is that folks may not feel (for some reason) that they own the country, so much so that there's actually a government committee to look into this 'problem' called the Singapore 21 initiative to persuade people that everyone matters. Interesting, isn't it? :)

Anonymous said...

Because culture for me helps to define who and where I am relative to the society that I live in

true, but i personally have been living in singapore and united states. and when i was in singapore, i used to make yearly visits to hong kong, so if you think about it, im actually 3-in-1. hah. living in 3 countries makes me see that it's not that important to have a specific culture.

singapore..has grown up too fast. and singapore changes every friggin' year. have i mentioned that i've left singapore for a few years now, and i don't know my way around the island anymore? heck, i don't even know how to get from my house to the bus interchange anymore!

jeffyen said...

3 in 1 is goood! You can check the busguide to see how to walk from your house to the interchange lol

But the argument of 'not needing a specific culture' is intriguing. I've always wondered if the concept of 'home' is a built in, evolutionary mechanism. Like for me, I don't feel homesick, I don't even know the concept. But they always say home is important. Another thing is that although I've lived in Singapore all my life, I don't have any relative here except my parents. And I'd associate 'home' perhaps closer to Taiwan because that's where my grandparents lived. But that's also not quite right because I want to live in Singapore, but have the thinking of a person living in Perth. So it's all very confusing. But maybe it's only confusing because we're taught the wrong thing to focus on 'one' home 'base'.

Maybe 'all your base are belong to us' is really the answer to it all!!

Anonymous said...

wah lau, walk? i must be very non-singaporean if i choose walking in the hot sweltering sun instead of riding in a cool air-conditioned bus. :P

i'm currently reading a book "the world is flat" by thomas friedman, and it's about globalization. in a way, i can see singapore in it.

"Columbia accidentally ran into America but thought he had discovered part of India. I actually found India and thought many of the people I met there were Americans. Some had actually taken American names, and others were doing great imitations of American accents at call centres and American business techniques at software labs."

perhaps one of the reasons why i never found a distinct "singaporean" culture is because we're actually quite similar to america/australia/western countries. perhaps you wanna read this book; i think it's fascinating.