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Looking Forward to Spring: Nine Decades of Popular Music in Taiwan

  • Date:2023-09-06~2023-11-12
Looking Forward to Spring: Nine Decades of Popular Music in Taiwan

 

"Looking Forward to the Spring Wind," one of Taiwan's earliest pop songs, continues to be universally adored after being performed and shared for over nine decades. This timeless piece still resonates with Taiwanese people today and almost every prominent singer has added it to their repertoire. Various distinguished recordings offer a glimpse into Taiwan's popular music evolution and the collective hopes and dreams of the Taiwanese people.

 

1.Rhythm - The History of Style

1.1 Lyrical Romance

The oldest known recording of "Looking Forward to the Spring Wind" can be traced back to a Tokyo studio session in September 1933. The track is marked by the prominent melodies of a Hawaiian guitar, emblematic of a romantic dream. The vocalist, evidently honing her craft, performed multiple takes before the song was deemed fit for recording. Her earnest performance captures the unique characteristics of Taiwanese pop music in its formative years.

1-2. Sounding the Call to Arms

In 1938, "Looking Forward to the Spring Wind" was given a militaristic flair and recorded with Japanese lyrics. With a dominating brass-led march rhythm, the song encouraged people to migrate to Northeast China to till the land and contribute to the military ambitions of the Japanese Empire.

1-3. Jazz and Dance Troupes

During the 1950s, jazz music began to permeate Taiwanese society, largely through touring song and dance troupes that performed in towns and cities. "Looking Forward to the Spring Wind" was notably performed in a vibrant tango rhythm, a rendition that captured the hearts of many. The Kupa Orchestra, established in 1953, continues to be remembered for its standout lead trumpet performance.

1-4. A Tapestry of Timeless Rhythms

In 1967, this version of the song transitioned from a romantic slow rock ballad to a medley of different rhythms including the cha-cha, a go-go, jitterbug, and foxtrot. The Taiwanese pop music scene seamlessly absorbed these eclectic musical styles, crafting pieces that resonate and can be shared across generations.

1-5. Enchanting Electronic Era

Teresa Teng's rendition of "Looking Forward to the Spring Wind" heralds the arrival of electronic music. This version of the song found a warm reception in Southeast Asia, with Teng's performance echoing strong Malay influences, symbolizing the internationalization of Taiwan's pop music.

1-6. Crafting a Classic

Fong Fei-fei, a beloved local singer, found her stride amidst the martial law era where the educational system harshly suppressed local languages, often deeming Taiwanese songs vulgar. However, in the 1980s, Fong Fei-fei skillfully brought many old Taiwanese songs back to life, orchestrating grand choruses that exuded classic charm. Her performances breathed new life into Taiwanese music and bolstered a collective cultural confidence.

1-7. Swing in the Blues 

A singer, who grew up in the United States, employs the art of a cappella and R&B to breathe new life into this classic song. This rendition enables the timeless melody to resonate with and be passed down to newer generations. It encapsulates the warmth of familial bonds and promotes understanding between different age groups.

 

2. Stirring Emotions - The History of Love

“Looking Forward to the Spring Wind" is a ballad that narrates the tale of a young girl's unrequited love. Upon hearing a sound outside, she opens the door only to be greeted by Taiwan's god of love and marriage—the Old Man Under the Moon—who laughs at her naivety. As the song has been shared and sung over time, the narrative has subtly evolved and transformed.

 

3. One Nation - The History of Mobilization

Once serving as the southern stronghold of the Japanese Empire, Taiwan later transitioned into a springboard for reclaiming mainland China post-war, and eventually cultivated its own local identity. Throughout these three stages of evolving national identities, "Looking Forward to the Spring Wind" consistently resonated as a unifying anthem.

 

4. Celebrities - A History of Icons

In Taiwan, everyone has their own favorite version of "Looking Forward to the Spring Wind." To reflect on the numerous, notable narratives surrounding this iconic song is to trace the trajectory of Taiwan's cultural evolution.

 

5. Nostalgia - A History of Identity

In the context of Taiwanese society, "Looking Forward to the Spring Wind" is not merely a song, it holds a special symbolic significance, evoking a sense of identity and nostalgia.