Red songs: Telling history through music
Each nation in the world has music recording its different historic eras. China is no exception. During its recent one hundred years, a special type of songs – the red revolutionary songs - reflect the part of history as the Chinese nation in peril was reborn and marched to glory.
In 1921, the Communist Party of China (CPC) held its first national congress on board a boat on Lake Nanhu in Jiaxing, Zhejiang province, marking a new beginning of the Chinese revolution. In 1984, Zhang Shixie, Qiao Yu and Shi Lemong jointly wrote the song the Boat on Nanhu Lake, the Cradle of the CPC. The small boat embodies the CPC’s commitment to serving the public good and exercising power in the interests of the people, therefore, becoming an icon in the history of the CPC.
In 1927, the CPC launched the Nanchang Uprising and fired the first shots of armed resistance against the reactionary rule of the Kuomintang. This led to the creation of an army that worked for the liberation and wellbeing of Chinese people. Shortly after the uprising, a folk song August 1st Uprising spread from the city of Nanchang. With lyrics like “I laughed merrily,” the song expresses ordinary people’s support for the uprising.
In the following years, the Communist Party of China established revolutionary bases in many parts of the country. One such revolutionary base in Dabie Mountains provided inspiration for a song titled Sweet Osmanthus Blooming Everywhere in August which adopted the melody of a folk song and became very popular among local army men and civilians. The Red Army later marched across the country to the accompaniment of the song.
The two years from October 1934 to October 1936 witnessed the unprecedented Long March, a military retreat undertaken by the Chinese Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army to evade the pursuit of the Kuomintang army. The difficult journey was later brought to life by such songs as The Red Army Soldiers Think of Mao Zedong, Ode to the Victory of Crossing the Jinsha River, and Go to Northern Shaanxi.
In 1935, the Shaanxi-Gansu Revolutionary Base was established, providing a secure foothold for the CPC Central Committee and the Central Red Army. This part of the country is noted for Xintianyou and Hua’er, two popular folk tunes. The song Red Morningstar Lilies Are in Blossom uses the Shaanxi and Gansu folk tune as its form of expression. "With warm rice wine we treat the people we love, and together we have straight from the heart chats…” read the lyrics. The words are touching and the singing is sonorous. At the same time, the song depicts an important moment in China’s history: With the arrival of the Central Red Army in northern Shaanxi, the focus of the Chinese revolution shifted from south China to the northwest.
In 1943, the Chinese people were still suffering from the Japanese invaders, but victory was on the horizon. Cao Huoxing, then 19 years old, was working at Tangshang village to raise local residents’ awareness about the anti-Japanese war through mass cultural activities. During this period of time, he created the song titled Without the Communist Party There Would Be No China, which resonated with masses and soon became a household name when China won the war of resistance against Japanese aggression. After the founding of the People's Republic of China, Chairman Mao Zedong proposed that the word "new" should be added before "China." The song was therefore officially renamed as Without the Communist Party There Would Be No New China.
Red Songs take different forms including folk songs and ballads, poetry and stories. They are popular in different regions and among different generations of people. They represent the common aspirations of the Chinese people and the rhythms of history.
監 制：戴 凡
編 導：劉璟 吳婧 白玥 孫磊 高志偉 佟明月