Marching the Red Drum

27.10.2012 @ TheWorldofChinese (if the link doesn’t work, then type the title in the Search box of the TWoC website)


Red songs are most often associated with the patriotic or propaganda tunes written between the 1940s and 1978. The genre still survives, but without the kind of impersonal dedication that pervaded the music in former decades, and consequently missing the essential ingredient necessary to be considered a true red song.

In the 1950s, war movies carried scores almost exclusively consisting of red songs, while their other primary preserve were tracks extolling the virtues of the redoubtable Chinese worker and his struggle to build the new China.

In the 1960s, red songs based around the theme of how much people loved and worshipped Chairman Mao became de rigueur, and many composed in the latter half of the Cultural Revolution simply lifted Mao’s quotes and used them as lyrics. The artistic merit of the songs’ words notwithstanding, the tunes were so harsh on the ear that the style was immediately discontinued at the end of the Cultural Revolution.


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