Fashions in music change, and there are many songs that are here today and gone tomorrow. Other tunes, however, are never forgotten and becoming part of popular culture.
The fourteen Mandarin songs included in the present recording are still well enough known, songs such as When Will You Return? or Midnight Fragrance of the 1930s or 1940s, or Parting Tears of the following decade. Some are written in the style of a folk-song, such as our title-song Selling Land For The Bride-price, Whisper of the Western Wind and Counting Sparrows, or the school song Leaving School.
To the earlier Mandarin songs that once dominated the market, we may now add all those Cantonese songs coming from Hong Kong. Both have been subjected to Western influence, although never losing their predominantly Chinese characteristics. Earlier in the last century Shanghai, with its contact with foreigners through the concessions, was a leading source of foreign commercial influence, to be found in popular music, as in other fields of activity.
Mandarin songs have a popular commercial origin and display, therefore, the features we should expect in immediacy, simplicity and superficial attraction. The genre developed in the 1930s and 1940s, reaching its height in China at the time of the change of regime in 1949. Thereafter it was in Taiwan and in Hong Kong that Mandarin songs chiefly found favour. The increased Western influence in the latter left Taiwan as the principal source of Mandarin songs in the 1960s, with successes such as Love Token, Garden of Dreams and Spring by the West Lake.
The present recording contains orchestral arrangements of Mandarin songs which were popular from the 1940s to the 1980s. The melodies and rhythms have stood the test of time and are likely to be remembered with pleasure for generations to come.