Archive for ‘music’

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

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Obituary: Roberto Alfonso Farrell, 1949 – 2010

This video demonstrates what Boney M‘s short operas usually looked and sounded like.

Our sports teacher was their biggest fan. We were obliged to do Aerobic dances to the Daddy-Cool song in elementary school. We coped.

One of the band’s four singers (and frontman) was Roberto Alfonso Farrell, better known as Bobby Farrell. He probably wasn’t really a singer. The band’s producer Frank Farian is said to have lent him his voice. In the 1970s, that spelled innovation. In later decades, it was considered shanzhai.

Farrell performed in St. Petersburg on Wednesday night, despite feeling unwell. During the past year, an ambulance had frequently been called after his shows, as he had cardiac problems, VoR quotes RIA Novosti.  He was found dead on Thursday morning.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Eduard Khil: Words Wanted

Eduard Khil wants your lyrics. Anything that’s better than

“I’m riding my stallion on a prairie, so-and-so mustang, and my beloved Mary is thousand miles away knitting a stocking for me”,

and something that would be compatible with this tune.

Not  necessarily for the whole song – one verse or a couplet will do.

Khil either didn’t like those lyrics, back in 1976, or he didn’t like the author of those lyrics at the time, or maybe it was because the text was to “western” to make it on Soviet television then. Whatever.

The Voice of Russia collects all the librettos by email,

Closing date: August 15, 2010


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