Archive for ‘music’

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Shortwave Log, Northern Germany, September/October 2012


Radio Station Profiles: RTM Mali

Radiodiffusion Télévision du Mali, according to information on its QSL cards almost three decades ago, carried transmissions in French, English, Arabic and national vernacular languages during the 1980s on about five frequencies – two in the 60-m tropical band, and three from the 49- to the 31-m-band. The broadcasts I used to listen to in Europe back then were usually in French. These days, 5995 kHz in the 49-m band seems to work best in Germany, if recent video uploads on youtube are something to go by. The frequency 5995 kHz (49 m) shown there on youtube was also active during the 1980s, but at the time, the frequency was probably hardly audible, as European broadcasters, too, were rather active on shortwave. The tropical band was my medium to listen to Africa during the 1980s.

RTM Mali, QSL 1986

African domestic stations on shortwave – most of those audible in central and northern Europe came in most clearly in the 60-meter band – differed from each other in terms of formats at the time. Some were mostly boring official announcements and news, on other stations, there were also messages from and between listeners read out, and some stations also broadcasted pretty lively music. If I remember it right, RTM Mali devoted more time to regional music than most African domestic stations I listened to.

Private radio stations appear to be on air in Mali, too. According to Wikipedia, the law has allowed for privately-run stations since 1994. These days, Mali shortwave transmitters also relay broadcasts by China Radio International (CRI). The China Television Economic and Technical Cooperation Company, a state-owned company founded in 1991 for Chinese broadcasting projects abroad, provided Mali with shortwave broadcasting equipment, apparently in 2001, or somewhat earlier, “to help Mali develop a foundation for broadcasting”, and for CRI

to broadcast to Africa in Mandarin, Cantonese, English, French, Swahili, Hausa, and other languages, to let African listeners hear the voice from China more clearly and conveniently, to broaden Chinese influence in Africa, to promote Sino-African friendship and the development of broadcasting in African nations, their public welfare, national education and other important effects.

中广国际总公司 [in full: 中国广播电视国际经济技术合作总公司] 为马里提供并租用当地短波广播设备转播中国国际广播电台对非洲地区广播节 目的卡伊、莫普堤、卡蒂、塞古、锡卡索等地广播发射台工程项目的完成,既为马里国家广播事业的发展奠定了坚实基础,也实现了我国对非洲地区用普通话、广东 话、英语、法语、斯瓦希里语、豪萨语等多种语言在当地广播的目标,让非洲听众更加清晰、更加便捷地收听到来自中国的声音,为扩大我国在非洲地区的影响、促 进中非友谊以及发展非洲国家的广播电视事业、国家公益事业、促进国民教育事业等发挥了重要作用。

The China Television Economic and Technical Cooperation Company seems to work under the auspices of the State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television (SARFT) and is located in Beijing’s Chaoyang district.

Obviously, during the 1980s, there weren’t too many ways to be familiar with musical genres and their protagonists. Local broadcasters could give you a taste of regional music, but as their target audience was familiar with the musicians anyway, there was no need for the announcers to explain the music they played. Things have changed with the internet, and you can get all kinds of background information now, as a recent blogpost by KT illustrates – it includes a number of samples/videos »


Recent Logs

International Telecommunication Union letter codes used in the table underneath:
AIA – Anguilla; CUB – Cuba; EGY – Egypt; RUS – Russia; TIB – Tibet; TWN – Taiwan.

Languages (“L.”):
C – Chinese; E – English; G – German; S – Spanish.






Time GMT

7240 CNR TIB C Sep 2 22:42 4 5 3
7240  PBS Tibet TIB C Sep 2 22:59 4 5 3
6090 Caribbean
AIA E  Sep 20 01:28 4 4 4
5025 R. Rebelde CUB S Sep 20 01:29 4 4 4
11560 R. Cairo 1) EGY G Sep 22 19:00 4 5 4
15700 Vo Russia RUS G Oct 2 09:00 5 5 5
9955 RTI Taipei 2) TWN G Oct 3 17:00 4 4 4

No impressive list for September and October, as I was much busier in recent weeks, than in August (see “Related” at the bottom of this post), and spent only little time in front of the radio.


1) While modulation was much better on that day than what listeners had previously been used to, readability of the broadcast was still less than O=4. Modulation is still not up to the standards. To give you an idea, here is a short recording from the September 22 broadcast in German.

2) Direct live broadcast from Taiwan on shortwave. Occasionally morse interferences, and growing (unid.) interference from five kHz further down during the last third of the broadcast.



» Previous Logs, Sep 2, 2012
» A State Secret in North Korea, Aug 1, 2012


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Gangnam Style in Recent History

Some 40 years ago.

(click picture for video)

The real revolutionary opera is here. It’s become a popular target for all kinds of re-mixes online, even before the gangnam hype.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Zheng Lücheng: Thoroughly into Factories and the Countryside

Much of the following is based on CCP folklore and, and therefore not necessarily accurate. Links within blockquotes added during translation – JR.


Main Link: 中国人民解放军军歌作曲者郑律成

Zheng Lücheng, famous composer. Born in Korea’s South Jeolla Province, Guangju, Yanglin Village in 1914, into a poverty-stricken family. Original name Zheng Fu’en, later, for his passion for music, changed into Lücheng. His father was a patriot, his three older brothers all gave their lives for the cause of Chinese and Korean revolution. In spring 1933, Zheng Lücheng and a group of Korean patriots came to China, entered the Korean anti-Japan resistance organization[s] in China, and ran the Nanjing “Korean Revolutionary Cadres’ School”. After graduation, he was active in resisting Japan in Nanjing, Shanghai, and other places, and in his spare time, he studied music.


After the outbreak of the National Anti-Japanese War, Zheng Lücheng whole-heartedly went to Yan’an in October 1937, joined the Shaanbei Public School [for training cadres] and studied at the Lu Xun Academy of Art and Literature. At the beginning of 1938, he became the Anti-Japan-Resistance University of Military Administration’s musical director and vocal-music instructor at the Lu Xun Academy of Art and Literature. In January 1939, he joined the Chinese Communist Party. In May 1942, Zheng Lücheng took part in the Yan’an Arts Work Conference and attentively listened to Chairman Mao Zedong’s teachings. In August 1942, Zheng Lücheng was sent to the headquarters of the Eighth Army at the Taihang Mountains, as education director of the North China “Korean Revolution Military Administration School”. In January 1944, he returned to Yan’an.


Zheng Lücheng frequently joined the anti-Japanese front and created a great number of musical works that reflected the soldiers’ battles against the Japanese. In April 1938, he wrote the “Ode to Yan’an” which spread from Yan’an to the whole country right after it came out, and inspired many progressive young people to hurry to Yan’an and to throw themselves into the revolution. In 1993, the “Ode to Yan’an” was included into the twenty Chinese Classics of the 20th Century, to enter the Chinese annals of music forever. In fall 1939, he completed the “Eighth Route Army Choruses” together with Gong Mu, among these, the “March of the Eighth Route Army Song” and “Eighth Route Army Anthem” which became military songs being sung in many places. During the liberation war, the “March of the Eighth Route Army Song” was changed into the “Military Anthem of the People’s Liberation Army”, with some changes to the text.


After the victory in the Japanese War, Zheng Lücheng returned to North Korea and served successively as the Korean Workers Party Kangwon Province Committee’s propaganda director, North Korean People’s Army club director, the North Korean People’s Army Orchestra director, the Korean National Music University’s composing department director, etc.. During this time, he wrote songs in praise of Korean people’s struggles and Sino-Korean friendship, “Korean People’s Army March”, “Sino-Korean Friendship” and many other works. In 1950, he returned to China and took Chinese citizenship, settling in Beijing. He worked at the Beijing People’s Theater and Ensemble. He went thoroughly into factories, the countryside, and borderposts, left his footprints in many places, seeking for material for new works, and wrote a great number of musical works for workers, peasants and soldiers.


Within several decades, Zheng Lücheng wrote more than 360 songs of different forms and genres, which won universal acclaim. Among them, the “Military Anthem of the People’s Liberation Army”, by its simple and succinct language, its sonorous rhythm, solemn and heroic melody, created a deep impression of the People’s troops’ image, the overwhelming way it pressed forward with an indomitable will, advancing fanfare, following the route of the army’s growth and its victory, and became part of the People’s Liberation Army’s combat effectiveness and political work. On July 25, 1988, the Military Central Commission officially made the song the People’s Liberation Army’s military anthem.


Zheng Lücheng passed away in Beijing, on December 7, 1976.


= = = = = = = = = =

Main Link: 郑律成 (

Note: Ding Xuesong (丁雪松), born in Sichuan Province in 1918, was a cadre in Yan’an and married Zheng Lücheng there. She was a Chinese citizen; Zheng took Chinese citizenship around 1950.

On the eve of the birth of New China, Ding Xuesong was appointed to build Xinhua’s Pyongyang branch office as the office’s director. In October, one week after the branch office’s establishment, China and Korea announced the establishment of diplomatic relations. On June 25, 1950, the Korean War suddenly broke out. With the tensions on the Korean peninsula and domestic decisions on their mind, it was decided to immediately establish an embassy in Pyongyang. Its main task was to maintain contacts between the two parties and armies, and to get aware of changes on the battlefield without delay. With Ding Xuesong as the Xinhua branch office director and a member of the embassy, Zheng Lücheng’s situation became more difficult, and each of them having separate things of their own to do, their feelings for each other were [still] too deep to part with each other. So the only way was for Zheng Lücheng and Ding Xuesong to return to China. Ding Xuesong, with help by a letter written by the ambassador to Chief State Councillor Zhou Enlai, asked for both her and Zheng’s return to China, plus requesting a renewal of Zheng’s party membership, and Chinese citizenship for Zheng. Even though Zhou Enlai was very busy, he quickly approved the requests, and Mao Zedong obtained Kim Il-sung’s agreement. Kim Il-sung was very generous, saying “Zheng Lücheng wants to return to China? That’s alright. The Chinese Communist Party developed so many cadres for us, and if you want a Zheng Lücheng now, that’s no problem.”


= = = = = = = = = =

He [Zheng] and Ding Xuesong were both persecuted during the Cultural Revolution, and he fell into a deep depression. Tragically, when he heard of the fall of the Gang of Four, which signaled the end of the Cultural Revolution, he suffered a stroke and died.
From 1979 to 1984, Ding Xuesong represented the PRC as ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to the Netherlands and later to Denmark.

Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Women, Lily Xiao Hong Lee (ed), New York, 2003, page 145.



» Wen and Jang: Joint Efforts, Aug 17, 2012
» The People’s Heroic Models, CCTV, Sep 26, 2009



» Zheng Lvcheng, CRI/Soundcloud, Aug 4, 2012
[Update, Dec 23, 2012: now removed, but if you want the soundfile, contact me by email or comment.]


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Shortwave Log, Northern Germany, August 2012


Voice of Korea

The Voice of Korea (VoK), previously known as Radio Pyongyang, is the international broadcasting service of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. When I listened to the station in the 1980s, you got the national anthem at the beginning, and following that, some frequency announcements and the news. Since then, two not-so-collective leaderships, i. e. Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, have died, and all VoK programs begin with the national anthem, a song for Kim Il-sung, and another for Kim Jong-il (both military marches). But there’s still space for the news, readings from the works of Kim Il-sung, and a mixture of military marches and folk music (the latter of which is occasionally quite nice, but more frequently kitsch, sometimes with apparent Swiss characteristics).

Radio Pyongyang QSL, 1989

Radio Pyongyang – renamed Voice of Korea since -, QSL card, 1989.

There is currently no interference on 13760 kHz at 13:00 GMT (click here, or picture above, for a digital recording), but the Chinese program, although more silently than the scheduled English program, can be heard in the background, too. It is probably on the same feeder between the studios and the shortwave transmitters.


Recent Logs

Thanks to long vacations, it’s a pretty big list for August.

International Telecommunication Union letter codes used in the table underneath:
AFS – South Africa; AIA – Anguilla; ARG – Argentina; ASC – Ascension Island; CHN – China; CLN – Sri Lanka; CUB – Cuba; IND – India; IRN – Iran; ISR – Israel; KRE – North Korea; MNG – Mongolia; PAK – Pakistan; RRW – Rwanda; RUS – Russia; SYR – Syria; THA – Thailand; TIB – Tibet; UAE – United Arab Emirates.

Languages (“L.”):
C – Chinese; E – English; Fa – Farsi; G – German; H – Hebrew; K – Korean; Pa – Pashto; Th – Thai; R – Russian; T – Tibetan.






Time GMT

5960 PBS Xinjiang CHN C Aug 2 23:00 3 4 3
7240 PBS Tibet TIB C Aug 2 23:13 3 4 3
9330 Radio Damascus SYR G Aug 3 18:00 2 3 2
15700 Voice of Russia RUS G Aug 4 09:30 4 5 4
9430 China Radio International CHN C Aug 4 14:21 4 5 4
6000 RHC Habana CUB E Aug 5 03:00 3 3 3
6090 Caribbean Beacon AIA E Aug 8 00:41 4 5 3
11540 VoA Radio Deewa CLN Pa Aug 8 01:36 3 5 3
15850 Galei Zahal ISR H Aug 8 02:55 3 5 2
6973 Galei Zahal ISR H Aug 8 03:05 3 3 3
13850 KOL Israel ISR Fa Aug 8 13:59 4 4 4
15760 KOL Israel ISR Fa Aug 8 14:35 4 4 4
4920 Tibetan Radio1) TIB T Aug 8 21:58 4 4 4
4800 CNR CHN C Aug 8 22:28 3 4 3
15235 Channel Africa AFS E Aug 9 17:00 3 4 3
11290 Royal Air Force Volmet2) ASC E Aug 9 19:18 4 4 4
9490 Deutsche Welle Kigali RRW E Aug 9 20:27 4 4 4
12010 Voice of Russia RUS G Aug 11 15:55 4 3 3
9855 Radio Australia UAE E Aug 12 23:20 3 4 3
17895 All India Radio IND E Aug 13 10:00 3 4 3
15180 Vo Korea KRE E Aug 14 10:00 3 4 3
17820 Radio Thailand THA Th Aug 14 10:31 4 5 4
15275 Radio Pakistan3) PAK E Aug 14 11:00 ? ? ?
9805 CNR CHN C Aug 14 23:00 4 5 4
11710 CNR CHN C Aug 14 23:05 4 5 4
9325 Vo Korea KRE K Aug 15 20:01 4 5 4
15345 RAE Buenos Aires ARG G Aug 15 20:55 4 3 3
9680 Radio Thailand4) THA G Aug 20 20:00 4 4 5
21590 IRIB Tehran 5) IRN E Aug 21 10:28 4 5 3
12085 Vo Mongolia MGL C Aug 23 10:00 2 4 2
9330 Radio Damascus 6) SYR R Aug 23 17:24 3 5 3



1) SIO 444 on parallel frequency 4905 kHz
2) probably Ascension Island
3) SIO = 3, but modulation as bad as usual.
4) Interference from 9675 kHz, probably Radio Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), Turkish-language program.
5) SIO 454 on parallel frequency 21640 kHz
6) Modulation as bad as usual, but the better reception than later in the evening (as usual in August).



» Previous Logs, August 2, 2012


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Public Diplomacy: Teaching without Saying Anything

We really have to pay tribute to Willis Conover, because later, I found out that he had to really fight for the integrity of his program, for the pureness of it. And also later I found out that there were many, many occasions when someone tried to push into his programs what he didn’t consider jazz, what’s not up to the standard. And only then I realized, Jesus, if not for Willis Conover, we would probably have been listening to some nonsense …

Valery Ponomarev, a jazz messenger from Russia, quoted in a Lincoln Center documentary – podcast here (published 3/6/12); a directory of all podcasts here.

Therefore the Master
acts without doing anything
and teaches without saying anything.
Things arise and she lets them come;
things disappear and she lets them go.
She has but doesn’t possess,
acts but doesn’t expect.
When her work is done, she forgets it.
That is why it lasts forever.



» Deutsche Welle Link Collection, Febr 3, 2012
» Noise doesn’t spell Strength, April 7, 2010
» Inherited records, Sign & Sight, Aug 15, 2007

Monday, January 23, 2012

Zhidao.Baidu: Why do all German Stars sing in English?

Q: Why do all German stars sing in English?

Q: 为什么德国都唱英文歌 难道它们歧视母语么..
2011-7-10 22:38

A: It’s because Germany’s cultural attractiveness doesn’t work, and they therefore have to do it this way. The key is that at the top, they don’t attach much importance to cultural development, and a long-term deficit exists there. One can’t blame individual stars; this deficit began long before they were born, and they can’t reverse that individually. However, for Germans to sing in English isn’t as much a loss of face as for Chinese; and Germans can actually argue to be of common origins with the English language. That’s not the case between China and English at all, but in the charts, many themes are in English, or the lyrics contain a lot of English language.

A (热心网友):
2011-7-12 05:54

Da, da, da…

Trio, 1982

Monday, May 9, 2011

Si je Puis m’exprimer Ainsi…

And now for something completely different – yesterday was the 108th birthday of Fernand Contandin, aka Fernandel. Yesterday would have been his 108th birthday.

Le visage ne va pas avec la voix, mais si seulement je pourrais m’exprimer ainsi. They don’t make such guys at American Hero.

One of his movies was Topazewritten and directed by Marcel Pagnol.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Tibetan Updates, Info and Questions

The Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance and Democracy was apparently a reaction to the United Nations-sponsored Durban Conference in 2009. But it has since become a regular event.

On March 15 this year, Dechen Pemba, possibly most widely known for having been expelled from China in summer 2008 for “splittist activities”, gave a talk there. She described her stay in China from 2006 to 2008, travels to Tibet, and her learning the Chinese language at the Minzu University of China in Beijing. She gave a short account of developments in Tibet since 2008, including some information about a non-violent initiative for strategic nonviolent resistance called Lhakar.

Adam Cathcart‘s blog hosts a guest post by Kristiana Henderson of Pacific Lutheran University (Tacoma, WA), with questions about a supposed invisible, or not so invisible, Chinese hand in Tibetan everyday culture, and yet more questions about a specific video.

I have no idea myself, but maybe someone can add some info there.


“Cold and Detached Gloating”, March 18, 2011
UN “Racism Conference” – Cui Bono, Tai De, March 14, 2009

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