Multimedia | Music

Listen to the Radio

The Cultural Revolution radio contains some of the major songs of the period, including the Cultural Revolution "anthem," Sailing the Seas Depends on the Helmsman, a Mao poem put to music. The radio also includes Mao quotation songs (yulu ge), folk songs, and children's songs:

Let's Study the Sixteen Points
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution is Indeed Good
We Are Chairman Mao's Red Guards
When We Die for the People, It is a Worthy Death (Mao essay set to music)
It's Right to Rebel (Mao quotation set to music)
The Force at the Core Leading Our Cause Forward (Mao quotation set to music)
I am Filled with Courage and Strength (from the revolutionary opera, The Red Lantern)
Revolutionary Story Time
Atop the Golden Mountain in Beijing

Militia Women - Inscription on a Photograph (from a Mao poem, Feb. 1961)

Related readings:

How the "Red Guards' Battle Song" Was Born, China Reconstructs, March 1968.

Vivian Wagner, "Songs of the Red Guards: Keywords Set to Music," Indiana East Asian Working Paper Series on Language and Politics in Modern China 2 (Winter 1996).

The East is Red

"The Cultural Revolution in music did not begin abruptly with some arbitrary political event, such as Beijing University's posters of May 1966. The explosion, when it came, reflected tensions that had long been building within musical circles. The musical fanfare which opened the Cultural Revolution, however, was certainly The East Is Red, an old revolutionary song which became the movement's anthem... The song's zealous words and stately melody were the perfect musical accompaniment to the new Mao cult." From Pianos and Politics in China, Middle-Class Ambitions and the Struggle over Western Music, by Richard Curt Kraus (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989). Read more from Pianos and Politics.

Listen to The East is Red: 1950's version | 1960's version

For more on The East is Red, including scenes from the stageshow epic, see the East is Red section of this site.

Additional Readings

Hung Chang-Tai, War and Popular Culture: Resistance in Modern China, 1937-1945 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994).

David Johnson, Andrew Nathan, and Evelyn S. Rawski, Popular Culture in Late Imperial China (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985).

Liang Mingyue, Music of the Billion: An Introduction to Chinese Musical Culture (New York: Heinrichshofen Edition, 1985).

Arnold Perris, Music as Propaganda: Art to Persuade and to Control (Westport: Greenwood, 1983).

Elizabeth J. Perry and Li Xun, "Revolutionary Rudeness: The Language of Red Guards and Rebel Workers in China's Cultural Revolution," Indiana East Asian Working Paper Series on Language and Politics in Modern China 2 (Summer 1993): 7.

Michael Schoenhals, "Talk about a Revolution: Red Guards, Government Cadres, and the Language of Political Discourse," Indiana East Asian Working Paper Series on Language and Politics in Modern China 1 (Spring 1993): 39.

Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom and Elizabeth J. Perry, eds., Popular Protest and Political Culture in Modern China [on The Gate of Heavenly Peace website] (Boulder: Westview Press, 1994).

Isabel K.F. Wong, "Geming Gequ: Songs for the Education of the Masses," in Popular Chinese Literature and Performing Arts in the People’s Republic of China 1949-1979, ed. Bonnie S. McDougall (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984), pp. 112-143.

 


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