Archive for May 21st, 2012

Butterfly Lovers for Malaysia


榄: Summer is early and the rains too. Does this mean autumn will be early as well?

Been seeing the butterflies; they are everywhere. Below are varied versions of the masterpiece from  陈钢 and 何占豪.

何 told his students that learning from the west the arts was, paradoxically, one of the greatest obstacles to rejuvenating local music. Why? Because they merely ended up reproducing everything the west taught them. We become copycats, like how Anglophiles (Khoo Kay Kim et al) become copycats of everything they pick up in La Salle schools and from Australians – democracy, maths, science, business, Christianity, everything.

Is it any wonder Malaysia’s progress, on all fronts but the humanities especially, is pathetic?

Chen Gang took the advice seriously. He played Beethoven to the rural villagers then asked them: “Do you like it?” They say, “yes“. “Do you understand?” They said, “no“. What do you want to listen to? 梁祝.

The exquisite quality of The Butterfly Lovers concerto isn’t intended to rival the west, an idea which bigoted western commentators and its media parrot endlessly. We don’t care for gweilos, their Nobel prizes, or what they think of us. Why should we? The Chinese will themselves decide what’s beauty.

But this exquisiteness does not spring from nowhere: it is the benefit of 5,000 years of civilization. This is what deep culture provides and does to a people, and recall that liangzhu has a history. Above all, the piece becomes exquisite when it is written for common people, not Christian elites and Anglophiles in bow ties hidden away in some elite island called Langkawi. 


Akiko’s violin version, 1st movement

于紅梅 Yu Hongmei’s erhu version

Vocal, in Cantonese (with narration into the origins)

呂思清 Lu Siqing’s annotated version (this is best)


 Dedicated to Najib Razak

A political strategy in musical form

Ambush Them – All Sides

(turn up volume)




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