The Jasmine Song

Background of informant: 

My informant SS is an international student from Beijing, China.

The conversation was in Chinese.

Main piece:

SS: “It seems that most of the songs that I learned in middle school choir are Red Songs (Chinese Patriot songs), this one is an exception! [laugh] [pause] Oh, you know what, a part of the play Turandot was actually adapted from The Jasmine Song. ”

SH: Really? How so?

SS: “I remember hearing a story like, the play writer got a Chinese music box as a gift from a friend, and the song played in the box is Jasmine Song.”

SH: How did you know about this song?

SS: “hmm… [pause] it should be when I was really young, probably between kindergarten and elementary school. Maybe I was taught by kindergarten teachers.”


Context of the performance:

SS was singing in bath as she always does. I coincidentally heard she singing this familiar Chinese melody one day.


My thoughts about the piece:

Though this song, The Jasmine Song, is a familiar folksong all over China, I didn’t realize that there’s a variation of this song which depends on different region of China. Not only is the lyrics changed, the tune is different also. The southern version of the song is with more modification of tune within the song, and the lyric is written in southern dialect, while the northern version is more straightforward and is sang in Mandarin.