“Red songs” in China

The unique Chinese term “red songs” refers to the songs composed to praise the Communist Party for their efforts in fighting in the war and raising living standards in China. Here is a brief history of the “red songs”. Red songs encompass many styles and local elements.

Some red songs are composed to memorize the Red Army. A typical example is Ten Farewell to Red Army (十送红军). In the song, people are reluctant to say farewell to the Red Army and they go a long way to send the army to the new place. The song has several verses, first depicting the environment of sending off the red army and then expressing people’s gratitude towards the army. The people urge the soldiers to send back their news about the war and wish them victory. The melody is gentle and expressive, matching the subtle emotions.

Some red songs feature influential figures in the history of the Communist Party. Song of Red Plum (红梅赞) expresses the emotion Jiang Jie (江姐) has when she was imprisoned. She fought against Kuo Min Tang, and sacrificed her life for the career. In the song, Jiang Jie looks up to the spirit of Red Plum to survive on the cliff. The song is inspiring and encouraging.

Many red songs are very artistic. Azalea (映山红) is a good example. The lyrics describe how people hope to see the Red Army. To them, the Red Army symbolizes a safe and prosperous environment.

Recently local singing competitions about the red songs are held all over China. The songs are more of a reminisce of the past than a pure praise of the Party. Although we are no longer in the war or unrest, the persistent and hardworking spirit in the songs will inspire Chinese people forever.


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