“Kangding Qingge” (Chinese: 康定情歌; pinyin: Kāngdìng Qínggē; Wade–Giles: K’ang1-ting4 Ch’ing2-ko1) (literally “Love song of Kangding”) is a traditional folk song of Kangding, Sichuan Province, that has become popular across China.
“Kang-Ding Love Song” was a folk song born in the 1930s in Kangding (Sichuan) by a local musician named Li Yi-Ruo from Xuanhan (Sichuan). He wrote this song based on his own true romantic story:
When he was attending college in Chengdu, Li fell in love with a classmate from Kangding. His parents did not agree on their relationship because her surname is also Li. Then he broke up with his parents and lost their financial support for schooling and living expenses. Thanks to all the help from Miss Li’s that Yi-Ruo was able to finish his college.
Influenced by feudal ethics, the relationship between Li Yi-Ruo and Miss Li of Kang-Ding did not have a happy ending. Yi-Ruo had traveled to Kang Ding with Miss Li. In order to commemorate this relationship, Yi-Ruo wrote this folk song titled “Horse riding high upon the mountain side”.
Li Yi-Ruo taught local people to sing this song and they loved it, calling it “Horse Ride Song”. One guy named Ou said Yi-Ruo taught him this song when he had dinner with Yi-Ruo. He thought the title was “Song of Kang-Ding Town”. And the lyric was different, including a sentence about “labor is good”, and the guy’s name in the lyrics was “Li” instead of Zhang.
Kang-Ding Love Song: The Story Outside
This song gradually spread locally in the 1940s. In mid-40s, a student from Fujian named Wu Wenji studied at the Qingmuguan National Music School in Chongqing. He collected this song from the soldiers from Kangding.
Then he handed in this song to his teacher Wu Zhengqian. Wu liked it a lot, so he requested Jiang Dingxian (a famous musician at the Composition Department) to rearrange the accompaniment for better recording and singing.
When Jiang Dingxian finished the accompaniment, he renamed its original title “Horse riding high upon the mountain side” into current “Kangding Love Song”. Later, Wu Zhengqian sang the song for the first time at a school concert.
Later, Jiang Dingxian recommended this song to the then popular singer Yu Yixuan. The same year in Nanjing, Yu Yixuan held a personal concert singing this song publicly. It became part of her repertoire afterwards. She sang the song everywhere she went, from Nanjing to the Northwest, domestic and abroad, which made “Kangding Love Song” spread throughout the world.
High upon the mountain side, floats a cloud so white.
There lies kangding town, bathed in silver moonlight.
Moonlight shines bright, over kangding town.
Lovely maid with a sweet smile, Li the woodcutter’s daughter.
Zhang the blacksmitsh eldest’s son, came to court her in moonlight.
Moonlight shines bright, a courtship in moonlight.
First, he has fallen in love because she is talented and good-looking.
Second, he has fallen in love because she can take care of the family.
The crescent moon, can take care of the family!
Lovely maidens of the world, I cannot but love you.
Gentlemen of the world, they cannot but woo you.
Moonlight shines bright, they cannot but woo you.