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Chinese Folk Songs Hit the Right Note Abroad
While the Internet makes Western pop music ever more available to Chinese with on-line downloads, a growing number of foreigners are warming to the unique charm of China's diverse folk music.

Van Zuylen, from the Netherlands, made a special trip late last month to the southern Chinese city of Nanning, where an international folk song and art festival was held.

Chinese folk songs had an appealing power, said Zuylen, who hoped to hear more folk music on the trip and said Chinese people should take pride in their rich culture and music.

At the festival, which ran from November 22 to 26, Lavinia Craciunescu, an amateur singer from Romania, won much applause from the audience for singing a Chinese folk song entitled Ocean, My Homeland in standard Mandarin.

People in Romania were familiar with Chinese folk songs, and liked the tempo of the music, though many do not understand Chinese language, said Craciunescu.

China has a rich folk music culture. Including the Han Chinese, China, with its vast territory, is home to 56 ethnic groups. Most of the country's ethnic groups live in west China. For people from China's ethnic groups, singing is a part of life.

Jia Yuanpei, of the Dong ethnic group from Xiaohuang Village, Dongjiang County of southwest China's Guizhou Province, said, "We Dong people believe singing is the best way to express ourselves at functions such as greeting guests, meeting friends, finding lovers and celebrating good news."

Ding Yuanhui, a student of Chinese literature with Guangxi Normal College, said, "We can imagine the comfort and pleasure in life through traditional folk songs, and new folk songs cater to modern people's demand for expressing their state of mind."

Wang Kun, a well-known Chinese folk singer, believed folk songs were part of a nation's soul.

"Chinese folk songs contain the nation's long-existing and great culture that we can never do away with," said Wang, who stressed that keeping pace with the times was the best way to protect a nation's folk music.

In south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, home to the Zhuang people, the country's second largest ethnic group, the unique Zhuang music and dance are compulsory courses in many primary schools.

Southwest China's Yunnan Province, where many residents are of different ethnic backgrounds, last year enacted a local regulation designed to protect folk culture, including the protection of folk songs.

Modern means are also used to protect folk songs. In the first half of the year, a group of specialists, who were organized by the China Folk Artists Association and UNESCO to collect the folk songs of the Zhuang people, produced a database on the subject.

Folk song artist Wang Kun hoped the Internet could be used to spread the unique sound of Chinese folk songs to more people around the world.

(Xinhua News Agency December 4, 2002)

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