Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Musical tastes across the generations

One day my son and I were eating at a restaurant and we heard an instrumental piece playing over the speakers.  He said to me: "doesn't this sound familiar?".  I listened to it for a while and indeed it sounded familiar.  It brought back memories from my childhood, as the music is from a song from Hong Kong that I remember when I was much younger. But as my son grew up in the USA, how come it is familiar to him as well? Some quick internet searching reveals that the song is a 1963 instrumental piece called "Washington Square" by the Village Stompers, a band from New York City. It turns out the music was used in 1978 by Sam Hui (許冠傑), one of my favorite Hong Kong singers from my childhood, in a song called 學生哥, roughly translated as "student". It is a catchy song encouraging students to study and become productive members of society. One of the reason Sam Hui's songs are popular is because they use Cantonese slang a lot, as contrasted to more formal Cantonese used by others.  Sometimes the slang words are purely verbal, and there are no written Chinese logograms to describe these words, so he would put English words to phonetically describe these words and many of his song lyrics are full of such words.

Anyway, the reason my son heard of this song that was composed before I was born is because it has been covered in a more modern version called "Faidherbe square" by ProleteR and was used in a Youtube video my son was watching. Of course he prefers the modern version while I prefer the Hong Kong version, but we both liked the original 1963 composition. It is remarkable this music has delighted multiple generations and I am glad we both discovered this music together.

No comments:

Post a Comment