[Old Mountain Song] [Mountain Tune] [Level Beat] [Relaxing Song]

Origions of Hakka Mountain Songs

Wherever they went in olden times, the Hakka Chinese encountered undeveloped mountainous areas that they gradually cleared and settled. The history of their arduous struggles to survive express their joys, frustration, woe, and delight. Perhaps at first, this amounted to nothing more than whoops of joy or sighing, but thereafter, as they picked tea leaves, carried goods, and tilled the fields, this singing became melodies. Over time, in order to vocalize a song of fellowship to gain companions or to converse with friends on an opposite mountain top, their singing gradually evolved into what is now termed mountain songs, the most representative genre of Hakka music.

The Hakka Chinese, who immigrated to Taiwan from the Chinese mainland, came at various times over the centuries. As a result, they are primarily divide into two groups: the Southern Hakka and the Northern Hakka of Taiwan.

Most Southern Hakka immigrated to Taiwan from the Meixian, Jiaoling, Dapu, and Wuhua areas of Guangdong Province on the chinese mainland. They settled in various rural and urban townships in Pingtung and Kaohsiung counties, and were cellectively called the Liu-tui. The folk songs sung by Taiwan's Southern Hakka mainly consist of mountain songs and children's songs. There are differences in the melodies of mountain songs because of differences in pronunciation between the various groups of Hakka speakers, based on their origin on the mainland, hence the distinction between Mei-nung and Hsia-nan mountain songs and between Yao-lan and Pan-shan children's songs. Their mountain songs generally consist of simple melodies and rhythmic freedom and rubato.

Most Northern Hakka immigrated to Taiwan not only from the Meixian, Jiaoling, Dapu, and Wuhua areas of Guangdong Province on the mainland, but also from the Haifeng, Lufeng, Raoping, and Xingning areas. They settled in Miaoli, Hsinchu, and Taoyuan county/city areas of Taiwan, arriving a bit later than their southern counterparts.

Some of Taiwan's Hakka inhabitants later settled in Tung-shih Urban Township of Taichung County, Kuo-hsing Rural Township of Nantou County, Taitung County, Hualien County, and Taipei County/City. The Old Mountain Song preserves the appearance of the folk songs, while the Nine Tunes and 18 Melodies consitute the highlights of traditional Hakka San-chiao Cha-hsi Music Theater.


Old Mountain Song

This is considered to be the oldest extant folk tune in Hakka culture. Its melody preserves the original characteristics of the Hakka mountain song. The entire tune is sung in the free san-pan rhythm.

Listen to Old Mountain Song
Lyrics:

theu song tai lit mok khia tsa
ngai ko iu song mok lien ka
it fu nan tsong liong iong tsiu
it su nan khoi liong iong fa
Meaning:
When you have a hat on your head, do not use the umbrella. My lover, you already have me, so do not love other girls. You cannot put two different wines in the same bottle. There cannot be two different kinds of flowers in the same tree.

It is from a girl to her lover. She hopes that her lover only loves her, not any other girls.


Mountain Tune

The melody for this song is a variant of the Old Mountain Song; however, it has a definite beat and fixed melody, so it is much livelier than the previous tune.

Listen to Mountain Tune
Lyrics:

sam chiak liong shion chion chhiong san
fui chion loi hi khon thoi van
Meaning:
Three dragon boats goes back to mainland China. I turned my head back to see Taiwan again.
Level Beat

This is also a Hakka mountain tune derived from the Old Mountain Song. It is a tune most often used to accompany Hakka Music Theater. With different lyrics, the same tune produces a different feeling and effect.

Listen to Level Beat
Lyrics:

hien tsii mang ki mang ti in
vun shiui mang ko mang ti chhin
sin mai phun theu nan tset shiui
sin lien ko tsii nan tset sim
Meaning:
You do not know how a violin sounds before you play it. You do not know how deep a river is before you go across it. You do not know if a new bottle leaks before you put water in it. You do not know if your lover loves you or not, but how to test it?

This is from a girl to her lover. She wonders if her lover really loves her.


Relaxing Song

This kind of songs are much more relaxed than the previous styles. They usually have fixed lyrics and tunes.

Listen to Relaxing Song
Lyrics:

tho fa khoi loi khiuk fa vong
a ko siong moi shin shiong liong sam hong
jit loi oi moi ien iong chim
ngi loi oi moi siong nga tshong
moi chiang moi sam loi oi moi kiu miang fung
Meaning:
After peach flowers are bloomed, chrysanthemum blooms. My lover wants something that belongs to me. First he wants my pillow, and then he wants my bed, and then he thinks me that I am his medicine.

This song is from a girl to her lover. She thinks that she is important to her lover, and wishes her lover to love her as if she is his medicine.


The data in this article except "Relaxing Song "are adopted from "Musical Legacy of The Chinese Hakka People", Kwang Hwa Mass Communications
These songs are sung by Sam-moi Lien, Chin Ngui, A-hap Ngui-liu, and are provided by Ten-chi Tshi

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