Catmint Writing

Culture & Politics

Category: America

Genghis Khan – Mongolian or Chinese?

According to the article below Mongolia and China are both claiming Genghis Khan. I follow the imperial way as it pertains to the Han dynasties because I am Han.

Article: Battle for Mongolia’s Soul

Do they need more territory as it is? No. I only care about China proper (See the China proper map) because that is the real Han territory. China proper is big enough as is – basically all of the Song territory. I’m even happy with just the Southern Song territory because that is not too small. I don’t care about Manchuria, Inner Mongolia, Tibet, and Xinjiang (East Turkestan). Trade? Sure. Doing business is fine. Cultural exchanges? Sure. That is fine too. Travel and tourism? Sure. As long as you keep the neo-nazi and terrorist groups at bay if I’m going to be a tourist and you want my tourist dollars for your economy. They can all become independent (and Inner Mongolia can reunify with Mongolia) and I don’t really care. Good luck to them. Some of them have formed terrorist groups (as long as they don’t attack me because I don’t really care if they want to become independent).

He is Mongolian – he wasn’t “Chinese” and there was no “Chinese” during the time of conquest even though he played a major role in “Chinese” history. According to the nationality law and in the eyes of Mongolians in Mongolia, even the ethnic Mongolians born in Inner Mongolia are not considered to be Mongolian nationals. They only consider people BORN inside their modern-day territory to be real Mongolians and it has to be to at least one Mongolian NATIONAL parent. But Genghis Khan was BORN in Mongolia’s modern-day territory. He was a Mongol who conquered the Hans and completely wiped out the Song Empire during the decisive Battle of Yamen in Sinwoi/Sunwui/Xinhui, Hoisan/Toisan/Taishan County. That’s the other city in my ancestors’ county. That’s like saying it happened in San Jose and I was in Santa Clara – both are in Santa Clara County in the San Francisco Bay Area. My ancestral city of Hoipeeng/Hoiping/Kaiping is NOT THAT FAR from where it happened. We were the last stand in the battle between the Han-led Song forces and the Mongol forces. The Song Dynasty ended in my ancestral county. There were a lot of refugees at the time who followed the imperial court there.

“China” and “Chinese” came into being during the Republican period with the KMT (Remember the five-coloured flag that preceded the white star and blue sky flag?). If I had lived before they did away with the imperial system, I would have said I am a Han. I would have no concept of “Chinese”.

So I say he goes to Mongolia. He is also a national hero there.

On Chinatown history:

This is true if you went to Chinatown and tried to look for work up to the 1970s. “你唔曉唐話,我幾好請你啊? [ni33 m22 hiau55 hɔŋ22 va325 ŋɔi33 gi55 hɔu215 tiaŋ55 ni33 a33] You do not speak Chinese [Taishanese]. How could I hire you?”

Please refer to the following links for more information about the Battle of Yamen in Sunwui (Xinhui), Toisan (Taishan) and the official end of the Song Dynasty.

An interesting video clip on the imperial descendants of the last Song emperor in Sunwui (Xinhui), Toisan (Taishan).

Joo Gi Hong (Zhujixiang) as the old halfway house for migrants from today’s Northern and Central China to Canton (Guangdong) province. Below is an excerpt from the article.

“From the Tang Dynasty (618-907) (唐朝) onwards waves of migrants came to northern Guangdong Province via the Plum Pass/Meiguan into Nanxiong County (南雄縣). Most of the officials’ families settled down in old Zhujixiang in Shashui Township (沙水鎮) and lived there for several generations. Many of the old buildings still remain and now contain small shrines in the front facing the cobbled lane. All of the original residences that probably housed officials are referred to by surname as Zuju (祖居)(ancestral home) or Guju (故居)(old home). In historical terms, Zhujixiang (珠璣巷) can perhaps now be labeled as a “half-way house” in terms of the migration of people from central and northern China toward the south over the centuries.”

“This place was quite unique, even for China, as it became a focal point of congregation in northern Guangdong Province for all the different clans that fled south which also included court officials during the waning years of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) (南宋朝).”

Regarding the Mei Pass, the migrants would have passed through the Mei Pass to get to what is now Canton (Guangdong) province. It is our version of Route 66 or the Roman Roads. My ancestors would have passed through the Mei Pass (wherever they were originally from in what is now Northern and Central China) and then stopped by Joo Gi Hong (Ju Gei Hong or Zhujixiang) to get to Hoisan (Toisan or Taishan) County or Thlee Yeep (Sze Yup/Siyi or Four Counties) centuries ago. Some other people went to other cities and counties such as Canton (Guangzhou) or to Thlam Yeep (Sam Yup/Sanyi or The Three Counties), Joong San (Zhongshan), etc.

On Berklee School of Music Grads

Americans always break the rules. Below is an example of Berklee grad, Leehom Wang, taking the classical (his favourite classical composer is Beethoven), American (jazz and R&B), and Cantonese musical traditions complete with the percussion and drumming in lion dancing and fusing them together (harmonizing them) to create something new. This is not easy. He’s a true musician. This is a very experimental piece – a 21st century masterpiece. A standard for those who aspire to harmonize world music styles with contemporary and classical music styles.

You know why I say it’s not easy? Try to harmonize the Chinese pentatonic scale with the Western scale. They are two completely different systems. So he would have had to transcribe the Chinese notes to Western notes before harmonizing them so that they don’t sound off. That’s what the Cantonese composers did. Not everybody can do it well.

RCM would have a hissy fit and throw a temper tantrum like a five year old who had been refused candy because they look down on contemporary and popular music and pay scant lip service to world music. But I love it because I broke out of my RCM cult-like mindset. So would London as they have already added world music and contemporary pieces to their syllabi and exam repertoires.

This is the Berklee (they are located in Boston – the birthplace of the American Revolution) philosophy, which is totally counter to RCM’s (Toronto) underlying focus on the European medieval/baroque/classical/romantic era tradition: “Founded on the revolutionary principle that the best way to prepare students for careers in music was through the study and practice of contemporary music.”

Different schools. Different philosophies. Toronto’s RCM is more about following the rules, learning only to pass the exams (that they profit greatly from as RCM is loaded with money and teachers here who only teach the RCM curricula also profit from it as well so they refuse to teach the curricula from the other conservatories even if they are aware of them), and accreditation/credentials. Students wind up not truly understanding what they just learned – just enough to get a good mark on the exams to get the credentials. The European and American schools are more about instilling a love of music, musical experimentation, and innovation.

Berklee is known informally as the Boston Conservatory. See the link below for more information.

On Cantonese Composers

Below is a Cantonese classic by the Cantonese composer Peixun Chen (No. 1 from Four Piano Pieces based on Cantonese Melodies, Op. 5) that’s also part of the London ABRSM Level 8 Piano Practical Exam (Toronto’s RCM Level 10 Piano Practical Exam) repertoire. I now realize that the Canadian RCM curricula is too rigid, restrictive, stifling, and narrow. It is completely out of touch with reality, unwilling to modernize and consider other styles. Medieval, Baroque, Classical, and Romantic are not the end all and be all of music and they are perpetually stuck in a living time warp. Music is music regardless of where it came from. Even rap is a form of music and deserves to be studied seriously like how they would at progressive music schools such as Berklee School of Music (the Boston Conservatory) that produced music legends such as Leehom Wang. Unfortunately, this is precisely why there is a lack of musical innovation in Canada.

I know this because every Canadian music student has to go through the RCM system unless the music teacher has trained with other conservatories and knows how to put his or her students through alternative examination systems such as the ABRSM system in London.

ABRSM sends out examiners to over 90 countries every year and has international recognition.

Europe and the US are still leagues ahead when it comes to formal musical training in the Western tradition.

Please see the link below for more information about Peixun Chen.

Below is the original guzheng (Chinese zither) version of Autumn Moon Over The Calm Lake – a Cantonese classic by the Master of Cantonese music, Lu Wencheng. This piece has been arranged many times for different instruments and even for vocals. Isn’t it beautiful? I can almost feel as if I am really by a lake and looking at the bright and shimmery reflection of the bountiful autumn moon on the watery waves.

Lu Wencheng’s Autumn Moon Over The Calm Lake is a fine example of Southern guzheng. There’s also the Northern guzheng as there are two schools.

Below is a link to Lu Wencheng’s biography.

Peixun Chen transcribed Lu Wencheng’s Autumn Moon Over The Calm Lake for the piano.

Peixun Chen is very traditional Chinese. He had surpassed Lu the Master without being unfilial and disrespectful by paying homage to his masterpiece through the piano transcription.


Breaking the Rules: A Jazz Piano Standard

Below is amazing American classic that’s now part of London’s ABRSM (Associated Board of Royal Schools of Music) exam repertoire. Unlike Toronto’s RCM (Royal Conservatory of Music), there is less emphasis on strict music theory requirements to complete the practical exams for the upper levels and beyond. Fewer rules mean fewer restrictions on innovation beyond classicism as well as personal expression and interpretation.

This is the man who started it all – George Gershwin. This is the man who started the jazz movement in the United States that soon overtook the world by storm. The jazz movement was pivotal in the development of contemporary and popular (pop) music in the United States and the rest of the world.

Below is Leon Bates’ amazing arrangement of the piece.

And who can forget Gene Kelly in An American in Paris? Gershwin transcribed the song for the vocals and the orchestra.

Gershwin also inspired the beginnings of Shanghai Jazz in 1930s Republican China.

Old Hong Kong in Love is a Many Splendored Thing

Hollywood’s dramatized and romanticized account of the Eurasian physician, Han Suyin, who worked in Old Hong Kong during the Chinese Civil War.

Note: The backdrop in Love is a Many Splendored Thing is real.

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