March of the Volunteers
The "March of the Volunteers", now also formally known as the National Anthem of the People's Republic of China, is the national anthem of the People's Republic of China, including its special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau. Unlike most previous Chinese anthems, it is written entirely in the vernacular, rather than in Classical Chinese.
Its lyrics were composed as a dramatic poem by the poet and playwright Tian Han in 1934 and set to music by Nie Er the next year for the movie Children of Troubled Times. It was adopted as the PRC's provisional anthem in 1949 in place of the Republican "Three Principles of the People" and the Communist "Internationale". When Tian Han was imprisoned during the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s, the march was briefly and unofficially replaced by "The East Is Red", then played without words, then played with altered words. Restored to its original version, the "March of the Volunteers" was raised to official status in 1982, adopted by Hong Kong and Macau upon their restorations to China in 1997 and 1999 respectively, and included in the Chinese Constitution's Article 136 in 2004.
The lyrics of the "March of the Volunteers" were composed by Tian Han in 1934 as two stanzas in his poem "The Great Wall" (t 〈萬里長城〉, s 《万里长城》, p Wànlǐ Chángchéng), intended either for a play he was working on at the time or as part of the script for Diantong's upcoming film Children of Troubled Times. The film is a story about a Chinese intellectual who flees during the Shanghai Incident to a life of luxury in Qingdao, only to be driven to fight the Japanese occupation of Manchuria after learning of the death of his friend. Urban legends later circulated that Tian wrote it in jail on rolling paper or the liner paper from cigarette boxes after being arrested in Shanghai by the Nationalists; in fact, he was arrested in Shanghai and held in Nanjing just after completing his draft for the film. During March and April 1935, Nie Er set the words (with minor adjustments) to music; in May, Diantong's sound director He Luting had the Russian composer Aaron Avshalomov arrange their orchestral accompaniment, which is now often played separately as its instrumental arrangement. The song was performed by Gu Menghe and Yuan Muzhi, along with a small and "hastily-assembled" chorus; He Luting consciously chose to use their first take, which preserved the Cantonese accent of several of the men. On 9 May, Gu and Yuan recorded it in more standard Mandarin for Pathé Orient's Shanghai branch ahead of the movie's release, so that it served as a form of advertising for the film.
Originally translated as "Volunteers Marching On", the English name references the several volunteer armies that opposed Japan's invasion of Manchuria in the 1930s; the Chinese name is a poetic variation—literally, the "Righteous and Brave Army"—that also appears in other songs of the time, such as the 1937 "Sword March".
In May 1935, the same month as the movie's release, Lü Ji and other leftists in Shanghai had begun an amateur choir and started promoting a National Salvation singing campaign, supporting mass singing associations along the lines established the year before by Liu Liangmo (t 劉良模, s 刘良模, Liú Liángmó), the secretary of the Shanghai YMCA. Although the movie did not perform well enough to keep Diantong from closing, its theme song became wildly popular: musicologist Feng Zikai reported hearing it being sung by crowds in rural villages from Zhejiang to Hunan within months of its release and, at a performance at a Shanghai sports stadium in June 1936, Liu's chorus of hundreds was joined by its audience of thousands. Although Tian Han was imprisoned for two years, Nie Er fled toward Russia only to die en route in Japan, and Liu Liangmo fled to America to escape harassment from the Nationalists, the singing campaign continued to expand, particularly after the December 1936 Xi'an Incident temporarily reduced Nationalist pressure against leftist movements. Visiting St Paul's Hospital at the Anglican mission at Guide (now Shangqiu, Henan), W.H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood reported hearing a "Chee Lai!" treated as a hymn at the mission service and the same tune "set to different words" treated as a favorite song of the Nationalist 8th Route Army.
The Pathé recording of the march appeared prominently in Joris Ivens's 1939 The 400 Million, an English-language documentary on the war in China. The same year, Lee Pao-chen included it with a parallel English translation in a songbook published in the new Chinese capital Chongqing; this version would later be disseminated throughout the United States for children's musical education during World War II before being curtailed at the onset of the Cold War. The New York Times published the song's sheet music on 24 December, along with an analysis by a Chinese correspondent in Chongqing. In exile in New York City in 1940, Liu Liangmo taught it to Paul Robeson, the college-educated polyglot folk-singing son of a runaway slave. Robeson began performing the song in Chinese at a large concert in New York City's Lewisohn Stadium. Reportedly in communication with the original lyricist Tian Han, the pair translated it into English and recorded it in both languages as "Chee Lai!" ("Arise!") for Keynote Records in early 1941. Its 3-disc album included a booklet whose preface was written by Soong Ching-ling, widow of Sun Yat-sen, and its initial proceeds were donated to the Chinese resistance. Robeson gave further live performances at benefits for the China Aid Council and United China Relief, although he gave the stage to Liu and the Chinese themselves for the song's performance at their sold-out concert at Washington's Uline Arena on 24 April 1941. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor and beginning of the Pacific War, the march was played locally in India, Singapore, and other locales in Southeast Asia; the Robeson recording was played frequently on British, American, and Soviet radio; and a cover version performed by the Army Air Force Orchestra appears as the introductory music to Frank Capra's 1944 propaganda film The Battle of China and again during its coverage of the Chinese response to the Rape of Nanking.
The "March of the Volunteers" was used as the Chinese national anthem for the first time at the World Peace Conference in April 1949. Originally intended for Paris, French authorities refused so many visas for its delegates that a parallel conference was held in Prague, Czechoslovakia. At the time, Beijing had recently come under the control of the Chinese Communists in the Chinese Civil War and its delegates attended the Prague conference in China's name. There was controversy over the line "The Chinese people faces their greatest peril", so the writer Guo Moruo changed it for the event to "The Chinese people have come to their moment of emancipation". The song was personally performed by Paul Robeson.
In June, a committee was set up by the Communist Party of China to decide on an official national anthem for the soon-to-be declared People's Republic of China. By the end of August, the committee had received 632 entries totaling 694 different sets of scores and lyrics. The March of the Volunteers was suggested by the painter Xu Beihong and supported by Zhou Enlai. Opposition to its use centered on the third line, suggesting that China continued to face difficulties. Zhou replied: "We still have imperialist enemies in front of us. The more we progress in development, the more the imperialists will hate us, seek to undermine us, attack us. Can you say that we won't be in peril?" His view was supported by Mao Zedong and, on 27 September 1949, the song became the provisional national anthem, just days before the founding of the People's Republic. The highly-fictionalized biopic Nie Er was produced in 1959 for its 10th anniversary; for its 50th in 1999, The National Anthem retold the story of the anthem's composition from Tian Han's point of view.
The 1966 People's Daily article condemning Tian Han's 1961 allegorical Peking opera Xie Yaohuan was one of the opening salvos of the Cultural Revolution, during which he was imprisoned and his words forbidden to be sung. As a result, there was a time when "The East Is Red" served as the PRC's unofficial anthem. Following the 9th National Congress, "The March of the Volunteers" began to be played once again from the 20th National Day Parade in 1969, although performances were solely instrumental. Tian Han died in prison in 1968, but Paul Robeson continued to send the royalties from his American recordings of the song to Tian's family.
The tune's lyrics were restored by the 5th National People's Congress on 5 March 1978, but with alterations including an ending of "raise high Chairman Mao's banner". Following Tian Han's posthumous rehabilitation in 1979 and Deng Xiaoping's consolidation of power over Hua Guofeng, the National People's Congress resolved to restore Tian Han's original verses to the march and to elevate its status, making it the country's official national anthem on 4 December 1982. It was played during the handover of Hong Kong from Great Britain in 1997 and during the handover of Macau from Portugal in 1999. The anthem was adopted as part of Annex III of the Basic Law of Hong Kong, taking effect on 1 July 1997, and as part of Annex III of the Basic Law of Macau, taking effect on 20 December 1999. The anthem's status was enshrined as an amendment to the Constitution of the People's Republic of China on 14 March 2004.
The use of the anthem in the Macau Special Administrative Region is particularly governed by Law №5/1999, which was enacted on 20 December 1999. Article 7 of the law requires that the anthem be accurately performed pursuant to the sheet music in its Appendix 4 and prohibits the lyrics from being altered. Under Article 9, willful alteration of the music or lyrics is criminally punishable by imprisonment of up to 3 years or up to 360 day-fines and, although both Mandarin and Portuguese are official languages of the region, the provided sheet music has its lyrics only in Chinese. There are no analogous laws in mainland China or in Hong Kong, where an English translation of the anthem is used for important events at the University of Hong Kong.
Nonetheless, the Chinese National Anthem in Mandarin now forms a mandatory part of public secondary education in Hong Kong as well. The local government issued a circular in May 1998 requiring government-funded schools to perform flag-raising ceremonies involving the singing of the "March of the Volunteers" on particular days: the first day of school, the "open day", National Day (1 October), New Year's (1 January), the "sport day", Establishment Day (1 July), the graduation ceremony, and for some other school-organized events; the circular was also send to the SAR's private schools. The official policy was long ignored, but—following massive and unexpected public demonstrations in 2003 against proposed anti-subversion laws—the ruling was reïterated in 2004 and most schools now hold such ceremonies at least once or twice a year. From National Day in 2004, as well, Hong Kong's local television networks—aTV, TVB, and CTVHK—have also been required to preface their evening news with government-prepared promotional videos including the national anthem in Mandarin. Initially a pilot program planned for a few months, it has continued ever since. Despite discomforting some locals who view it as "propaganda", general polling has shown it has markedly improved Hong Kongers' pride and affection towards the national anthem.
A 1939 bilingual songbook which included the song called it "a good example of... copy[ing] the good points from Western music without impairing or losing our own national color". Nie's piece is a march, a Western form, opening with a bugle call and a motif (with which it also closes) based on an ascending fourth interval from D to G inspired by "The Internationale". Its rhythmic patterns of triplets, accented downbeats, and syncopation and use (with the exception of one note[which?]) of the pentatonic scale, however, create an effect of becoming "progressively more Chinese in character" over the course of the tune. For reasons both musical and political, Nie came to be regarded as a model composer by Chinese musicians in the Maoist era. Howard Taubman, the New York Times music editor, initially panned the tune as telling us China's "fight is more momentous than her art" although, after US entrance into the war, he called its performance "delightful".
Original and current
Qǐlái! Búyuàn zuò núlì de rénmen!
Arise, we who refuse to be slaves;
From 1978 to 1982
Qiánjìn! Gè mínzú yīngxióng de rénmín,
March on! All heroic ethnic groups!
- * The rhythm in this line is actually slightly altered as Gòngchǎndǎng has one more syllable than xuèròu in original lyrics.
The march has been remixed by various performers:
- The American musician Paul Robeson recorded it in Chinese and English for the 1941 album Chee Lai! Songs of New China.
- The Army Air Force Orchestra recorded an instrumental version as the theme for Frank Capra's 1944 Why We Fight VI: The Battle of China.
- The Slovenian group Laibach created an electronic version of the anthem with lyrics in both English and Mandarin for their album Volk.
- The British musician Damon Albarn included a loose and upbeat version on the soundtrack to his musical Monkey: Journey to the West.
- The German musician Holger Czukay included a cut-up instrumental version on his album Der Osten ist Rot ("The East Is Red").
- Historical Chinese anthems
- Flag of the People's Republic of China
- National Emblem of the People's Republic of China
- Resolution on the Capital, Calendar, National Anthem, and National Flag of the People's Republic of China. 1st Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (Beijing), 27 September 1949. Hosted at Wikisource.
- Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Annex III. 7th National People's Congress (Beijing), 4 April 1990. Hosted at Wikisource.
- Basic Law of the Macao Special Administrative Region, Annex III. 8th National People's Congress (Beijing), 31 March 1993. Hosted at Wikisource.
- Constitution of the People's Republic of China, Amendment IV, §31. 10th National People's Congress (Beijing), 14 March 2004. Hosted at Wikisource.
- 《中华人民共和国国歌》 [Zhōnghuá Rénmín Gònghéguó Guógē, "National Anthem of the People's Republic of China"]. State Council of the People's Republic of China (Beijing), 2015. Accessed 21 January 2015. (Chinese)
- "National Anthem". State Council of the People's Republic of China (Beijing), 26 August 2014. Accessed 21 January 2015.
- Huang, Natasha N. ‘East Is Red’: A Musical Barometer for Cultural Revolution Politics and Culture, pp. 25 ff.
- Rojas, Carlos. The Great Wall: A Cultural History, p. 132. Harvard University Press (Cambridge), 2010. ISBN 0674047877.
- Chi, Robert. "'The March of the Volunteers': From Movie Theme Song to National Anthem" in Re-envisioning the Chinese Revolution: The Politics and Poetics of Collective Memories in Reform China, pp. 217 ff. Woodrow Wilson Center Press (Washington), 2007.
- Melvin, Sheila & al. Rhapsody in Red: How Western Classical Music Became Chinese, p. 129. Algora Publishing (New York), 2004.
- Liu (2010), p. 154.
- Liang Luo. "International Avant-garde and the Chinese National Anthem: Tian Han, Joris Ivens, and Paul Robeson" in The Ivens Magazine, No. 16. European Foundation Joris Ivens (Nijmegen), October 2010. Accessed 22 January 2015.
- Pathé's local music director at the time was the French-educated Ren Guang, who in 1933 was a founding member of Soon Ching-ling's "Soviet Friends Society"’s Music Group. Prior to his arrest, Tian Han served as the group's head and Nie Er was another charter member. Liu Liangmo, who subsequently did much to popularize the use of the song, had also joined by 1935.
- 《電通半月畫報》 [Diàntōng Bànyuè Huàbào, Diantong Pictorial], #1 (May 16) or #2 (June 1). Diantong Film Co. (Shanghai), 1935.
- Yang, Jeff & al. Once Upon a Time in China: A Guide to Hong Kong, Taiwanese, and Mainland Chinese Cinema, p. 136. Atria Books (New York), 2003.
- Liu Ching-chih. Translated by Caroline Mason. A Critical History of New Music in China, p. 172. Chinese University Press (Sha Tin), 2010.
- Gallicchio, Marc. The African American Encounter with Japan & China, p. 164. University of North Carolina Press (Chapel Hill), 2000.
- Nie actually finalized the movie's music in Japan and sent it back to Diantong in Shanghai.
- Liu Liangmo. Translated by Ellen Yeung. "The America I Know". China Daily News, 13–17 July 1950. Reprinted as "Paul Robeson: The People's Singer (1950)" in Chinese American Voices: From the Gold Rush to the Present, pp. 207 ff. University of California Press (Berkeley), 2006.
- Journey to a War, cited in Chi (2007), p. 225.
- Lee Pao-chen. China's Patriots Sing. The China Information Publishing Co. (Chungking), 1939.
- Music Educators Journal. National Association for Music Education, 1942.
- Roth, Philip. Portnoy's Complaint. 1969.
- The lyrics, which appeared in the Music Educators' Journal, are sung verbatim in Philip Roth's 1969 Portnoy's Complaint, where Portnoy claims "the rhythm alone can cause my flesh to ripple" and that his elementary school teachers were already calling it the "Chinese national anthem".
- This song was also sometimes spelled as Chi Lai or Ch'i-Lai.
- Deane, Hugh. Good Deeds & Gunboats: Two Centuries of American-Chinese Encounters, p. 169. China Books & Periodicals (Chicago), 1990.
- Gellman, Erik S. Death Blow to Jim Crow: The National Negro Congress and the Rise of Militant Civil Rights, pp. 136. University of North Carolina Press (Chapel Hill), 2012. ISBN 9780807835319.
- Robeson, Paul Jr. The Undiscovered Paul Robeson: Quest for Freedom, 1939–1976, pp. 25 f. John Wiley & Sons (Hoboken), 2010.
- The Washington Committee for Aid to China had previously booked Constitution Hall but been blocked by the Daughters of the American Revolution owing to Robeson's race. The indignation was great enough that President Roosevelt's wife Eleanor and the Chinese ambassador joined as sponsors, ensuring that the Uline Arena would accept and desegregate for the single concert. When the organizers offered generous terms to the National Negro Congress to help fill the larger venue, however, these sponsors withdrew and attempted to cancel the event, owing to the NNC's Communist ties and Mrs. Roosevelt's personal history with the NNC's founder.
- Eagan, Daniel. America's Film Legacy: The Authoritative Guide to the Landmark Movies in the National Film Registry, pp. 390 f. Continuum International (New York), 2010.
- Santi, Rainer. "100 Years of Peace Making: A History of the International Peace Bureau and Other International Peace Movement Organisations and Networks" in Pax Förlag. International Peace Bureau, January 1991.
- Liao Jingwen. Translated by Zhang Peiji. Xu Beihong: Life of a Master Painter, pp. 323 f. Foreign Language Press (Beijing), 1987.
- Wagner, Rudolf G. "Tian Han's Peking Opera Xie Yaohuan (1961)" in The Contemporary Chinese Historical Drama: Four Studies, pp. 80 ff. University of California Press (Berkeley), 1990. ISBN 9780520059542
- "Broadcasting and Politics Spread Across the World" in Television: Critical Concepts in Media and Cultural Studies, Vol. I, p. 361.
- Such use continued some time after the "March of the Volunteers"'s nominal rehabilitation in 1969.
- Ho Wai-chung. School Music Education and Social Change in Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, p. 69. Koninklijke Brill NV (Leiden), 2011. ISBN 9789004189171.
- The flag-lowering and -raising segment of the Handover Ceremony, from the joint feed of the Hong Kong Handover Ceremony by ATV, TVB and Wharf Cable. 1 July 1997. Hosted on YouTube, 21 January 2011.
- 第5/1999號法律 國旗、國徽及國歌的使用及保護 [Dì 5/1999 Háo Fǎlǜ: Guóqí, Guóhuī jí Guógē de Shǐyòng jí Bǎohù, "Law №5/1999: The Use and Protection of the National Flag, National Emblem, and National Anthem"]. Legislative Assembly (Macao), 20 December 1999. Hosted at the Chinese Wikisource. (Chinese)
- Lei n.º 5/1999: Utilização e protecção da bandeira, emblema e hino nacionais ["Law №5/1999: The Use and Protection of the National Flag, Emblem, and Anthem"]. Legislative Assembly (Macao), 20 December 1999. Hosted at the Portuguese Wikisource. (Portuguese)
- Ho (2011), p. 36.
- Ho (2011), pp. 89 ff.
- Lee, Wing On. "The Development of Citizenship Education Curriculum in Hong Kong after 1997: Tensions between National Identity and Global Citizenship" in Citizenship Curriculum in Asia and the Pacific, p. 36. Comparative Education Research Centre (Hong Kong), 2008.
- "Positioning at the Margins" in Diasporic Histories: Cultural Archives of Chinese Transnationalism, pp. 57 f.
- Vickers, Edward. "Learning to Love the Motherland: 'National Education' in Post-Retrocession Hong Kong" in Designing History in East Asian Textbooks: Identity Politics and Transnational Aspirations, p. 94. Routledge (Abingdon), 2011. ISBN 9780415602525.
- Mathews, Gordon & al. Hong Kong, China: Learning to Belong to a Nation, p. 89. Routledge (Abingdon), 2008. ISBN 0415426545.
- Hong Kong 2004: Education: "Committee on the Promotion of Civic Education". Government Yearbook (Hong Kong), 2015. Accessed 25 January 2015.
- Wong, Martin. "National Anthem To Be Broadcast before News". South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), 1 October 2004.
- Luk, Helen. "Chinese National Anthem Video Draws Fire from Hong Kong People". Associated Press, 7 October 2004.
- Jones, Carol. "Lost in China? Mainlandisation and Resistance in Post-1997 Hong Kong" in Taiwan in Comparative Perspective, Vol. 5, pp. 28–ff. London School of Economics (London), July 2014.
- Mathews & al. (2008), p. 104.
- Howard, Joshua (2014). ""Music for a National Defense": Making Martial Music During the Anti-Japanese War". Cross-currents 13. pp. 11-12
- Mistakenly credited to Nie Er & "Xiexing Hai" (i.e., Xian Xinghai).
- Paul Robeson's "Chee Lai!" Audio hosted at the Internet Archive. Lyrics and sheet music hosted at Political Folk Music. Accessed 22 January 2015.
- Bonner, David. Revolutionizing Children's Records: 1946–1977, pp. 47 f. Scarecrow Press (Plymouth), 2008.
- Anderson, Rick. "Laibach: Volk". AllMusic (San Francisco), 2015. Accessed 22 January 2015.
- Jones, Chris. "Monkey: Journey to the West Review". BBC Music (London), 2008. Accessed 18 December 2011.
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- Official instrumental version, hosted by the People's Republic of China
- Semi-official vocal version, hosted by the China Internet Information Center
- "March of the Volunteers" at National Anthems
- Children of Troubled Times in its entirety and the climactic march
- Paul Robeson recorded on Chee Lai! (May 1941), live at Prague (April 1949), and live at Moscow (14 June 1949)
- The intro to Why We Fight: The Battle of China (1944), featuring the "March of the Volunteers" as its theme
- National Day performances from 1949 to 2009
- The 1978–1982 version in two renditions
- APIs in Hong Kong from 2006, 2008, 2009, and 2012