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Songs from the farmlands struggle to survive

Updated: 2012-11-27 10:14
By Lin Jing and Xue Chaohua ( China Daily)

Songs from the farmlands struggle to survive

He Qingxiang sings the unique folk music hua'er, which means flower, in Linxia Hui autonomous prefecture in Gansu province. Provided to China Daily

Of the many hua'er singers in Linxia Hui autonomous prefecture, He Qingxiang is one of the few who can hold on to his dream.

"I love music and I love hua'er. It is a noble folk culture and I will try my best to inherit and develop the art," says 45-year-old He.

Hua'er is a kind of folk song that originated from Gansu and Qinghai provinces, and its subject matter is love affairs between young people. Normally the songs are heard in the countryside.

Linxia Hui autonomous prefecture in Gansu province was named the "hometown of hua'er" by the Chinese Folk Literature and Art Society in 2003.

"Since my childhood, I often heard adults singing hua'er in the mountains," says He. "At first I was curious about the songs because they are different from those heard on the radio."

But in the 1970s, school students were prohibited from singing hua'er, because the lyrics of love affairs were regarded as improper for teenagers.

Enthusiastic about the folk songs, he went to study music in Northwest University for Nationalities in 1990. After graduating from the conservatory of music there, he worked as a music teacher in a local normal school.

But his family was strongly against it when he decided to treat singing hua'er as a career. "In the eyes of elders, singing hua'er is not a decent job. The local community has a kind of discrimination against this art."

Once, a local mosque was filmed in one of his music videos, and he got an earful of criticism from the local community.

"'How can you put a sacred mosque together with hua'er?' they asked me."

"Singing hua'er in our age, especially for female singers, is really embarrassing from the traditional point of view. It seems as if we have nothing to do but sing love songs all day."

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