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Mo li hua 'Jasmine flower song'

traditional Chinese
author of text
traditional Chinese

The popular Chinese folk song Mo li hua (‘Jasmine flower song’) dates back to the Qianlong era of the Qing dynasty in the eighteenth century. It has been associated with the custom in the southern-Yangtze delta of giving Jasmine flowers. As is typically the case with Chinese music, it uses the pentatonic (five-note) scale.

This has long been the most recognised Chinese song throughout the world. In his book, Travels in China of 1804, the British diplomat Sir John Barrow described it as one of the most popular songs in China. In 1926, Puccini used it in Turandot, and more recently it has been sung at many occasions, including the Beijing Olympics in 2008, and, more controversially, played on protesters’ mobile phones during the 2011 pro-democracy protests in China, known as the Jasmine Revolution, which resulted in the song being censored in China.

from notes by Emma Cleobury © 2019


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