When I came to China, I didn’t know anything about Chinese music. I never listed to it and for some reason it always reminded me of quiet, slow and relaxing songs with some background sounds of various typical Chinese instruments whose names I didn’t even recognize. One day I asked my Chinese friend to download some Chinese music for me. She selected many different kinds of songs representing pop, rock, metal and folk music. I spent all afternoon listening to them all and I must say that Chinese music is extremely diverse. Firstly, let me say something about classic music.
Most of songs are very inspiring and relaxing, combine peace with singing birds and the sounds of Chinese gardens. They represent soul unity, the harmony, balance and mystery. Oriental atmosphere of songs can take you to a distant and beautiful land, overflowing with Chinese tradition. Chinese instruments in perfect combination with the sound of the piano and cello create an atmosphere of calm and tranquillity. This kind of music is perfect for me nowadays as I sometimes have some problems with sleeping or need to chill out after my class. Most of teachers here in the school listen to this kind of music so I’m given lots of mp3 audio files every day (of course, if you wish to listen to some of them, just send me an e-mail and I will send you a few songs). However, you can easily find them on the Internet. Moreover, I have downloaded a Chinese version of winamp music player so I can listen to my favourite soundtrack and see the lyrics of the songs (kind of karaoke). I often translate songs from Chinese into English which helps me improve my Chinese language. My favourite song is called “Ai shi ni wo” by Dao Lang (means “Love is you and me”), it’s a very romantic song about love :-).
Secondly, folk music is often played at Chinese weddings and funerals, during some parades and national holidays, very popular in northern villages. Local people play some ancient instruments such as sheng, pipes, suona or chuigushou. In some provinces, folk music is a genre of traditional ballads. The songs usually tell stories, myths and legends. When you listen to these songs you can get an impression that you are in a very old Chinese village and the time has stopped in a different era. Thirdly, pop music, developing since the end of the 20th century, is rising in popularity. Nevertheless, Chinese people prefer listening to British and American pop music rather than Chinese. Almost my every student knows who Michael Jackson, Justin Bieber, Madonna, Lady Gaga and Avril Lavigne are and they are really crazy about them. I even have a few students named Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber (wow, I was speechless when I’ve heard their names). Chinese pop music combines a very modern Western sound with traditional Chinese sound (traditional Chinese instruments played in the background which sounds excellent) and most of Chinese lyrics are mixed with American lyrics. Moreover, Jay Chou, is one of the greatest artist and icons for everyone in Chinese music industry as he was the first one who began to combine pop and r & b and rap. Everyone loves him in China so I always get a big hug when I say in Chinese “I like listening to Jay Chou’s songs”. Now, I can’t imagine my day without listening to some Chinese music!
There is a website I would recommend if you would like to listen to some Chinese music: https://www.chinese-tools.com/songs. The lyrics are in Chinese with pinyin, there are English annotations and mp3 audio files to download. Enjoy!