About this Recording
82061 - Best of Chinese Oldies

About the Arrangements PHOON YEW TIEN

For many years, I have always had the urge to arrange some of my favorite old songs for orchestra and have them recorded. Due to various reasons, it hasn't happened until now. Having finally started arranging, I was elated.

Actually, many old songs are almost complete in musical forms, filled with inspiration and lingering charm. What is hardest to replace is the essence of the era. Then why arrange? Having listened to old songs for a long time, I realised that they have emotional sincerity, and a skilfully and carefully written melody. The harmony (which may be written by another person) is often thoughtful and intelligent. Recently, in those early days, these recordings were limited by the uneven standard of the musicians. On careful listening, many hidden qualities of the piece could further be enhanced, for example: the vocals ought to be the most beautiful aspect of the song. Anyway, it's too late - even if the original singer can be located - to recreate those years. Still, we may be able to do something today. Also, there is another important reason: my personal deep interest in these songs and in arranging them.

So, I decided to have a go at it.

While arranging, I used different approaches to the different styles of the songs, but the overall basic philosophy is to maintain the spirit of the original song, if possible. Yet, it is only a possibility because it is impossible to recreate the effects of the original recordings, especially when I arranged these songs for symphony orchestra. In addition, some of the original arrangements were not very good or even had errors (or had faulty playing. That, of course, can't be copied blindly. In any case, I still preserved all the periodic and personality details. I got very nostalgic, even though it was unprofessional of me to do so. Old songs are themselves an embodiment of memories. If you're familiar with old songs, when you listen to these arrangements, it'll be easier to empathise and feel that some of the details are duplicated. This is the ambition of my efforts.

On the other hand, when I am arranging the music, I didn't consult the score other than for the lyrics. These songs hove long been in my heart. But to be on the safe side, I listened carefully to the original recordings as carefully as possible to confirm the harmony and instrumentation, hoping not to miss anything important. Overall, I remained faithful to the original songs, and these songs will not need new inspiration and creativity. If you felt a little "nostalgic familiarity", then you make me feel very happy.

Since the music is now symphonic Ifor symphony orchestral, there were considerations of orchestration. Also, I was forced to improvise especially when the original recordings could not be found. The resultant work that you hear is a synthesis of my memory with my own ideas.

Really, the intentions behind these are for you, the listener - a means of enjoyment. At the thought of this, I must thank Yellow River for their understanding and broad-mindedness.


"You say I am like a rose swaying in the soft breeze of spring. If I am the rose you are the breeze - and my swaying is for you!” A popular song in the 50s, this was Grace Chang's signature tune. The arranger has used a quicker tempo and it is now a dance song.


"I can't forget your wrongs, 1 can't forget your goodness ... the walks in the rain, the embrace in the cold winds." The theme from the movie, "Endless Love" was sung by Ku Mei. The song tells of the love-hate relationship between lovers. It won the Best Sound track Award in the 1962 Asia Moive Awards.


'Ah! The beauty of girls at eighteen, with their big eyes and lovely brows. Bright pink lips framing two rows of pearly white teeth, the radiant beauty just like the glowing of the setting sun." A lively tune, it depicts joy at the bloom of youth.


"In the bleak days of March, the Azalea blooms on the hillside and beside the river streams, its beauty reminds one of the pretty village maiden." Another popular song, this had been sung by many singers. However, none could match Ku Mei's rendition for her depth of feelings.


The sweetness of re-union after three long years separation is amply portrayed here. A Chou Hsuan song, the song seems mirror her tragic life.


"The glow of spring showers on blooming flowers; the brilliant colours of leaves and flowers has given us a new lease of life. Inseparable feelings linger, our love for each other, the turbulence of love is a mystery, enhanced by the presence of spring. The turbulence of love is a mystery, captivated by the presence of Spring" This song was composed by the renowned Yao Min, who is still fondly regarded.


"Eternal tenderness that resembles the spring water flowing towards you. Did you sense its presence? You shadow has penetrated into my heart, your every single word and thought had never failed to linger. I always wished for a night to reveal my feelings for you, to dampen your mood" This song by Chou Hsuon from a film is filled with tenderness and sadness.


"Why am I crying for you -don't you understand. It' because of love. Only lover's tears are the most precious, each drop is filled with love." This song by Pan Siew Chiong generates lots of nostalgic memory. You will be touched by the lyrical cello's deep warm tone.


This is a sentimental song which encompasses the beauty of the pasture, and the warm feelings of a girl. This song shows the shepherd girl on a hill top with sheep facing the pasture, looking at the beautiful scenery, dreaming of her faraway lover. This familiar song will remind you of another song "At That Faraway Place".


"Our family is harmonious, peaceful like paradise. You are a lucky flower, blooming in the breeze of spring. Bless you little child, bless you that you grow up happily. "This song is sung by Kong Chiu Xia. The melody is soothing an beautiful. Towards the end of the song, the piano plays the melody of the "birthday song".


"Peace flowers blooming everywhere, seen from far and near. With a stalk in front, its

rarity becomes obvious, Everybody loves peach flowers, its fragrance is loved by all, with a wreath of peach flowers on your head, your love for it is eternal" This is one of the theme songs from a movie, and the singer is Yao Li. This lively song has a relaxed feel, praising the beauty of the peach flowers.


"The little schoolboy heads for school with his bag on his back, braving the scorching sun and the thunderstorm, only fearing his teacher scolding him for being lazy, feeling ashamed of facing his parents without acquiring any knowledge. "The singer of this familiar song is Liang Ping, lyrics by Song Yang in early 1945.


"The flock of swallows come and go, covering millions of miles, have you ever observed them cleary? My swallow, have you news of my mother? The vagueness of my childhood is just like a dream, but the tenderness of my mother is very clear" One of the theme songs of a movie, it is an emotional song in triple time, sung by Ku Mei. This song shows the longing for the far away mother.


"The clear moon in the sky, I use it as my mirror. Every quiet night that arrives, reflects my beauty and youth. Brother, you think I am too young, but love you more than your wife. Whenever one listens to this melody that expresses the bitterness of a woman unlucky in love, one will think of the singer Wu Ying Yin's bright but nasal voice. The accompaniment of this song has a strict pattern. The woodwinds play the fast second theme, making the song sound playful.


This song was named "Night in Nandu" by Xu Shi in the 40s. It later became one of the theme songs from the movie "Air Stewardess". I love a wonderful place called Taiwan, sing a song of Taiwan, with its long winding coastline, mountainous inland, with the forest by the hillside which is a treasure. With good roads and rail lines, the beautiful scenery of the Pacific Ocean, Taiwan is indeed an island of treasures." This fast-paced song is like travelling in a car admiring the beautiful scenery of Taiwan.

Phoon Yew Tien

Presently the Head of Music at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Phoon began his composition studies in the seventies with Leong Yoon Pin. In 1980, he was offered a scholar-ship by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra to pursue his musical training in the Queensland Conservatorium in Australia. Within four years, Phoon graduated with a degree in Music Composition and a degree in Music Instrumental (Flute) simultaneously. While in Australia, he had studied composition under Elaine Dobson, Alen Lane and Karl Vine and the flute under David Cabbin, Geoffrey Collins and Louise Dellit.

Phoon's diversified and imaginative composition skills may be testified by the string of awards received, including the distinguished awards in "Our Songs" Writing Competition (1977), Nanyang University Song Writing Competition (1978) and "Song for Workers" Writing Competition (1978). In Australia, he was thrice awarded the prestigious Dulcie Robertson Prize for composition in the years 1980, 1981 and 1983. In 1984, his composition, "Autumn" won him the Yoshiro Irino Memorial Prize by the Asian Composer's Society.

In addition to receiving commissions from the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, the Singapore Youth Orchestra and the People's Association Chinese Orchestra, Phoon has been approached annually by the Hwa Chong Junior College Chinese Orchestra from 1981 to 1991 to write for the college's yearly public concert. His works are also regularly featured in the "New Music Forum" - the platform for contemporary music.

Phoon had collaborated with various dance and drama groups and Singaporean artists such as Tan Swie Hian, Kuo Pao Kun, Goh Lay Kuan and Lim Fei Shen. Many of these works were performed in the Singapore Festival of Arts, Festival of Dance and the ASEAN Arts Festival. Outside home, Phoon's work have been performed by various orchestras in Hong Kong, Taiwan, England, New Zealand, Japan, Australia, France and Italy.

Phoon has established himself as possibly the most promising and imaginative composer of his generation. His music successfully combines a basically Chinese idiom with contemporary techniques and styles. It is often transparent and spare in texture, making effective and use of tone colour.

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