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Chinese work songs

meself 28 Mar 10 - 03:18 PM
meself 28 Mar 10 - 03:29 PM
Seayaker 29 Mar 10 - 10:13 AM
Charley Noble 29 Mar 10 - 10:21 AM
meself 29 Mar 10 - 11:18 AM
Charley Noble 29 Mar 10 - 11:34 AM
meself 29 Mar 10 - 11:39 AM
SINSULL 29 Mar 10 - 11:42 AM
meself 29 Mar 10 - 12:01 PM
meself 30 Mar 10 - 11:46 AM
KathyW 30 Mar 10 - 09:38 PM
meself 30 Mar 10 - 11:48 PM
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Subject: Chinese work/sea songs/shanties
From: meself
Date: 28 Mar 10 - 03:18 PM

I was reading the "Advent and Development of Shanties" thread, and got sidetracked into looking for Chinese sea shanties. So far, I've found a couple of great clips from a documentary on work songs of the "boat trackers" on the Yangtse River. The sound is bad at times when the narrator is talking, but clear when the singing is the focus. They've gone a little heavy with the reverb; presumably, they're trying to recreate the echoes that would sound from the steep cliffs banking the river.

Songs of the Boat Trackers

I believe there are five clips in the series.

The 'translations' that appear to be Chinese words - e.g., 'hei hai' - are nonsense vocables.

If others come across related clips or info., perhaps they could add them to this thread.


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Subject: RE: Chinese work songs
From: meself
Date: 28 Mar 10 - 03:29 PM

By the way, I like the way the singer talks in clip #2, at least as his words are translated. They strike me as reminiscent of the translations of some Gaelic songs:

I was on the boat when I was ten,
Oh, I was on the boat when I was over ten years old;
I learnt the opera at twelve years old;
Because I remember large amounts of opera,
And I am always in high mood as I got down the river,
I always sing the boating-songs;
On this river, everyone knows me, everyone knows me.

I've seen their evening parties,
And those songs were not so good;
But those assistants were in order,
I say that his assistants were in order;
Their dances were good, their dances were good,
But as for the leader of the singers,
He just sang several sentences,
And the words weren't so complete.

(I've corrected the grammar errors that obviously resulted from poor translation.)


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Subject: RE: Chinese work songs
From: Seayaker
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 10:13 AM

And very reminiscent of the translations of Chinese classical poetry by people like Arthur Waly or Ezra Pound.


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Subject: RE: Chinese work songs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 10:21 AM

Meself-

I do like the "joking rivalry" evident in the lines translated above. It certainly fits in with similar rivalries among shanty singers and lumberjack balladeers.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Chinese work songs
From: meself
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 11:18 AM

Seayaker: That thought struck me as well. Note the approval of things being done in the proper fashion at the "evening parties". Btw, I think "the assistants" would refer to the members of the "chorus", and is probably not the most felicitous translation of the original term - but it makes them sound like minor functionaries who make sure that everything is running smoothly and that all the proper etiquette is being observed. In other words, they seem like figures right out of the classical poetry.

And the "first verse" could be from some distant, folksy cousin of The River Merchant's Wife.

Charley: Of course, it's an open question as to how "joking" the rivalry is, or how friendly the joking is. There is an account of two Gaelic poets in Cape Breton whose rivalry became so bitter that one of them finally sold out and moved to a distant part of the island. And then there are the Rappers, who always end up shooting each other ....


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Subject: RE: Chinese work songs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 11:34 AM

Meself-

The concept of "joking rivalries" certainly includes testing the limits of social tolerance, and if exceeded could certainly lead to a brawl. What's a "joke" is always a matter of perspective.

Mudcat threads are a case in point. LOL

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Chinese work songs
From: meself
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 11:39 AM

Oh, yeah? Yo mama!


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Subject: RE: Chinese work songs
From: SINSULL
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 11:42 AM

Over 100 miners are trapped in a mine in China today. It flooded when workers broke through to an old water filled tunnel. There are a lot of songs that come to mind. Wonder if China has any of their own?


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Subject: RE: Chinese work songs
From: meself
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 12:01 PM

I would imagine.

I remember back the 'sixties - or 'seventies? - the miners' choir from Cape Breton - oh yeah, Men of the Deeps - did a tour in China, and met with miners there. Seemed to have been a lot of bonhommie among them all.


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Subject: RE: Chinese work songs
From: meself
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 11:46 AM

refresh


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Subject: RE: Chinese work songs
From: KathyW
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 09:38 PM

As it happens this weekend I was listening to a CD of field recordings of Chinese boatmen's and logger's work songs that I have. ("Songs of the Land in China: Labor Songs & Love Songs.") Most of the liner notes are in Chinese so I can't read them, but sea chantey enthusiasts may find this description sort of familiar:

"These songs are usually sung together by every member of a team or working group. One member takes the role as lead vocal; this role, in face, is actually more complex than just being the lead. It includes the task of creating new lyrics for a set melody, and most importantly, commanding the whole group to be more productive."

According to the CD notes, the Chinese word for these kinds of songs is "haozi" or "shaozi" which is also the word for a type of whistle. Perhaps useful info for those looking for more info on these songs?

The videos are very interesting, I wasn't sure what kind of work went along with these sort of songs.


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Subject: RE: Chinese work songs
From: meself
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 11:48 PM

Thanks, KathyW. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be much on youtube "from the field" ....


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