Top 10 Chinese Folk Songs

Chinese folk song is inspired by everyday life of the Chinese working people and is passed down and elaborated from generation to generation. Folk music features simple language, vivid imagery, and has many genres and forms. Here collected are the top 10 most famous Chines folk songs, enjoy and let me know which one you like best.

1. The Wandering Songstress (天涯歌女)

The Wandering Songstress was one of two theme songs of the 1937 Chinese film Street Angel. It was composed by He Lüting, and lyrics by Tian Han,the melody adopts the Southern China music elements and made the singer Zhou Xuan (1920-1957) became red all over China.

Chinese Lyrics:

天涯歌女
天涯呀海角,
觅呀觅知音,
小妹妹唱歌,郎奏琴,
郎呀,咱们俩是一条心。

家山呀北望,
泪呀泪沾襟,
小妹妹想郎,只到今,
郎呀,患难之交恩爱深。

人生呀谁不,
惜呀惜青春,
小妹妹似线,郎似针,
郎呀,穿在一起不离分。

English Lyrics:

From the end of the earth to furthest sea
I searched for my true love
I sing while you play a zither
My darling, we have the same heart
Looking north to my hometown mountain
Tears fall and wet my blouse
I miss you, my darling, only until today
My darling, love through adversity is always deep
Who in life does not
Cherish their youth?
I am like thread, you are like a needle
My darling, we are held together, never to be apart

2. In That Place Wholly Farway (在那遥远的地方)

In That Place Wholly Farway (在那遥远的地方) is usually considered to be written by the song writer Wang Luobin, inspired by a Kazakh folk song. In 1939, Wang met a Tibetan girl Zhuo Ma in Qinghai Tibetan Lake and after staying together for a few days, the girl impressed Wang deeply, and Wang then wrote this beautiful song.

在那遥远的地方
有位好姑娘
人们走过她的帐篷
都要回头留恋的张望
她那粉红的小脸好象红太阳
她那活泼动人的眼睛
好象晚上明媚的月亮
我愿抛弃那财产跟她去放羊
每天看着那粉红的小脸
和那美丽金边的衣裳
我愿做一只小羊跟在她身旁
我愿她拿着细细的皮鞭
不断轻轻打在我身上
In that distant place,
there is a fine girl,
whenever people pass her tent,
they keep glancing back
her pink, smiling face
is like the red sun
her lively striking eyes
are like the enchanting moon in the evening
I want to cast aside wealth
and herd sheep with her
to see that pink smiling face of hers everyday
and that beautiful gold-trimmed clothing
I want to be a lamb
following at her side
I want her to take that thin leather whip
and continually , lightly strike my body

3. Half the Moon climbs up (半个月亮爬上来)

This famous song is adopted from folk songs from northwest China. The lyrics are about a suitor who tries to obtain the attention of a girl in her window. This song was also composed by Wang Luobin.

半个月亮爬上来,咿啦啦,爬上来。
照着我的姑娘梳妆台,咿啦啦,梳妆台。
请你把那纱窗快打开,咿啦啦,快打开。
再把你那玫瑰摘一朵,轻轻的,扔下来。
再把你那玫瑰摘一朵,轻轻的,扔下来。

Half the Moon climbs up, Yilala, climbs up,
Moonlight falls on my girl’s dressing table,Yilala, dressing table,
Please help me open the curtain fast, Yilala, open the curtain fast,
Then pick one of your roses, gently, throw it down,
Then pick one of your roses, gently, throw it down.

4. Kangding Love Song (康定情歌)

Kang Ding Love Song is one of the most popular folk love songs from China’s Sichuan province. With simple melody and vivid rhythm, it becomes a household song and many Chinese people can sing it. Its lyrics tell a eternal theme — LOVE.

Lyrics:

páo mǎ liū zī de shān shàng
跑 马 溜 淄 的 山 上
Run the horse skating on the mountain
yì duǒ liū liū de yún yō
一 朵 溜 溜 的 云 哟
A slippery cloud yo
duān duān liū zī de zhào zài
端 端 溜 淄 的 照 在
End-slip-on-the-photo in
kāng dìng liū liū de chéng yō
康 定 溜 溜 的 城 哟
Kang Ding’s snothed city yo
yuè liang wān wān
月 亮 弯 弯
Moon Bright Bend
kāng dìng liū liū de chéng yō
康 定 溜 溜 的 城 哟
Kang Ding’s snothed city yo
lǐ jiā liū liū de dà jiě
李 家 溜 溜 的 大 姐
Lee’s snuck out of the big sister
rén cái liū liū de hǎo yō
人 才 溜 溜 的 好 哟
People just slip, good yo.
zhāng jiā liū liū de dà gē
张 家 溜 溜 的 大 哥
Zhang’s snuck up brother
kàn shàng liú liū de tā yō
看 上 留 溜 的 她 哟
Look, stay on the slip of her yo
yuè liang wān wān
月 亮 弯 弯
Moon Bright Bend
kàn shàng zī liū de tā yō
看 上 淄 溜 的 她 哟
Look on the yo of the yo
yì lái liū liū de kàn shàng
一 来 溜 溜 的 看 上
One to slip on the look
rén cái zī liū de hǎo yō
人 才 淄 溜 的 好 哟
People are talented, slip,’ yo.
èr lái liū liū de kàn shàng
二 来 溜 溜 的 看 上
Two to slip on the look
huì dāng liū zī de jiā yō
会 当 溜 淄 的 家 哟
will be a snuck home yo
yuè liang wān wān
月 亮 弯 弯
Moon Bright Bend
huì dāng liū zī de jiā yō
会 当 溜 淄 的 家 哟
will be a snuck home yo
shì jiān liū liū de nǘ zǐ
世 间 溜 溜 的 女 子
The son of the world’s yo-yo
rèn nǐ liū liū de qiú yō
任 你 溜 溜 的 求 哟
Let’s go, you’re snuck, yo.
shì jiān liū liū de nán zǐ
世 间 溜 溜 的 男 子
The sore man of the world
rèn nǐ zī liū de ài yō
任 你 淄 溜 的 爱 哟
Let’s go and you’re slinky love yo
yuè liang wān wān
月 亮 弯 弯
Moon Bright Bend
rèn nǐ zī liū de ài yō
任 你 淄 溜 的 爱 哟
Let’s go and you’re slinky love yo
yuè liang wān wān
月 亮 弯 弯
Moon Bright Bend
rèn nǐ zī liū de ài yō
任 你 淄 溜 的 爱 哟
Let’s go and you’re slinky love yo
páo mǎ liū zī de shān shàng
跑 马 溜 淄 的 山 上
Run the horse skating on the mountain
yì duǒ liū liū de yún yō
一 朵 溜 溜 的 云 哟
A slippery cloud yo
duān duān liū zī de zhào zài
端 端 溜 淄 的 照 在
End-slip-on-the-photo in
kāng dìng liū liū de chéng yō
康 定 溜 溜 的 城 哟
Kang Ding’s snothed city yo
yuè liang wān wān
月 亮 弯 弯
Moon Bright Bend
kāng dìng liū liū de chéng yō
康 定 溜 溜 的 城 哟
Kang Ding’s snothed city yo
kāng dìng liū liū de chéng yō
康 定 溜 溜 的 城 哟
Kang Ding’s snothed city yo
kāng dìng liū liū de chéng yō
康 定 溜 溜 的 城 哟
Kang Ding’s snothed city yo
páo mǎ liū zī de shān shàng
跑 马 溜 淄 的 山 上
Run the horse skating on the mountain
páo mǎ liū zī de shān shàng
跑 马 溜 淄 的 山 上
Run the horse skating on the mountain

5. Purple Bamboo Melody (紫竹调)

The Melody of Purple Bamboo is a love song appearing in Suzhou in the 1930s. The song vividly describes heart-to-heart love scene between two young lovers.

Chinese Lyrics:

一根紫竹直苗苗,送与哥哥做管箫,
Yī gēn zǐzhú zhí miáo miáo, sòng yǔ gēgē zuò guǎn xiāo,

箫儿对着口,口儿对着箫,箫中吹出鲜花调,
xiāo er duìzhe kǒu, kǒu er duìzhe xiāo, xiāo zhōng chuīchū xiānhuā diào

问哥哥呀,这管箫儿好不好。
wèn gēgē ya, zhè guǎn xiāo er hǎobù hǎo.

问哥哥呀,这管箫儿好不好。
Wèn gēgē ya, zhè guǎn xiāo er hǎobù hǎo.

小小金鱼粉红鳃,上江游到下江来,
Xiǎo xiǎo jīnyú fěnhóng sāi, shàng jiāng yóu dào xià jiāng lái,

头摇尾巴摆,头摇尾巴摆,手执钓竿钓将起来,
tóu yáo wěibā bǎi, tóu yáo wěibā bǎi, shǒu zhí diàogān diào jiāng qǐlái

小妹妹呀,清水游去混水里来。
xiǎo mèimei ya, qīngshuǐ yóu qù hún shuǐ lǐ lái.

小妹妹呀,清水游去混水里来。
Xiǎo mèimei ya, qīngshuǐ yóu qù hún shuǐ lǐ lái.

6. Meet in Yurt (敖包相会)

Meet in Yurt was adapted from a Inner Mongolian folk song. The song became famous with the 1953 movie “People On Grasslands.”

Lyrics:

shí wǔ de yuè liang shēng shàng le tiān kōng yō
十  五 的 月  亮    升    上    了 天   空   哟
Ten-five moons bright rise to the sky Yo
wèi shén me páng biān méi yǒu yún cai
为  什   么 旁   边   没  有  云  彩
For what, there’s no cloud on the side
wǒ děng dāi zhe měi lì de gū niang yō
我 等   待  着  美  丽 的 姑 娘    哟
I wait for the beautiful aunt yo
nǐ wèi shén me hái bú dào lái yō hē
你 为  什   么 还  不 到  来  哟 嗬
You’re not coming for anything yet, yo, yes,
rú guǒ méi yǒu tiān shàng de yú shuǐ yō
如 果  没  有  天   上    的 雨 水   哟
If there’s no day on the rain water yo
hǎi táng huā ér bú huì zì jǐ kāi
海  棠   花  儿 不 会  自 己 开
Sea otters don’t open themselves
zhǐ yào gē ge nǐ nài xīn dì děng dài yō
只  要  哥 哥 你 耐  心  地 等   待  哟
Only brother you patience wait yo
nǐ xīn shàng de rén ér
你 心  上    的 人  儿
The man in your heart
jiù huì pǎo guò lái yō hē
就  会  跑  过  来  哟 嗬
Will run over, yo, yo.
shí wǔ de yuè liang shēng shàng le tiān kōng yō
十  五 的 月  亮    升    上    了 天   空   哟
Ten-five moons bright rise to the sky Yo
wèi shén me páng biān méi yǒu yún cai
为  什   么 旁   边   没  有  云  彩
For what, there’s no cloud on the side
wǒ děng dāi zhe měi lì de gū niang yō
我 等   待  着  美  丽 的 姑 娘    哟
I wait for the beautiful aunt yo
nǐ wèi shén me hái bú dào lái yō hē
你 为  什   么 还  不 到  来  哟 嗬
You’re not coming for anything yet, yo, yes,
wǒ děng dāi zhe měi lì de gū niang yō
我 等   待  着  美  丽 的 姑 娘    哟
I wait for the beautiful aunt yo
nǐ wèi shén me hái bú dào lái yō hē
你 为  什   么 还  不 到  来  哟 嗬
You’re not coming for anything yet, yo, yes,

 

7. Mo Li Hua (or Jasmine Flower) (茉莉花)

The popular Chinese folk song Mo Li Hua is originated from the 18th century. The song gains popularity both at home and abroad and is often sung in grand concerts . It is often considered representative song of China and known as “China’s second national anthem.”

Chinese lyrics:

好一朵美丽的茉莉花
好一朵美丽的茉莉花
芬芳美丽满枝桠
又香又白人人夸
让我来将你摘下
送给别人家
茉莉花呀茉莉花

English lyrics:

Flower of jasmine, so fair!
Flower of jasmine, so fair!
Budding and blooming here and there,
Pure and fragrant all do declare.
Let me pick you with tender care,
Sweetness for all to share.
Jasmine fair, oh Jasmine fair.

8. Beside the Butterfly Spring (蝴蝶泉边)

Beside the Butterfly Spring is the theme song of 1959 romantic film The Five Golden Flowers. The song is adapted from folk song of Bai People from Yunnan Province. Its unique melody helped the song gain popularity in the country.

Chinese lyrics:

女:大理三月好风光哎,蝴蝶泉边好梳妆,蝴蝶飞来采花蜜哟,阿妹梳头为哪桩?蝴蝶飞来采花蜜哟,阿妹梳头为哪桩?
Nǚ: Dàlǐ sān yuè hǎo fēngguāng āi, húdié quán biān hǎo shūzhuāng, húdié fēi lái cǎi huāmì yō, ā mèi shūtóu wèi nǎ zhuāng? Húdié fēi lái cǎi huāmì yō, ā mèi shūtóu wèi nǎ zhuāng?
男:蝴蝶泉水清又清,丢个石头试水深,有心摘花怕有刺,徘徊心不定啊伊哟。
Nán: Húdié quánshuǐ qīng yòu qīng, diū gè shítou shì shuǐshēn, yǒuxīn zhāihuā pà yǒu cì, páihuái xīn bùdìng a yī yō.
女:有心摘花莫怕刺哎,有心唱歌莫多问,有心撒网莫怕水哟,见面好相认。
Nǚ: Yǒuxīn zhāihuā mò pà cì āi, yǒuxīn chànggē mò duō wèn, yǒuxīn sā wǎng mò pà shuǐ yō, jiànmiàn hǎo xiāng rèn.
男:阳雀飞过高山顶,留下一串响铃声,阿妹送我金荷包哟,哥是有情人啊伊哟!
Nán: Yáng què fēiguò gāoshān dǐng, liú xià yī chuàn xiǎng língshēng, ā mèi sòng wǒ jīn hébāo yō, gē shì yǒuqíng rén a yī yō!
女:燕子衔泥为做窝,有情无情口难说,相交要学长流水哟,朝露哥莫学啊伊哟!
Nǚ: Yànzi xián ní wèi zuò wō, yǒuqíng wúqíng kǒu nánshuō, xiàngjiāo yào xué cháng liúshuǐ yō, zhāolù gē mò xué a yī yō!
男:祖传三代是铁匠,炼得好钢锈不生,哥心似钢最坚贞,妹莫错看人。送把钢刀佩妹身,钢刀便是好见证,苍山雪化洱海干,难折好钢刃。
Nán: Zǔchuán sāndài shì tiějiàng, liàn dé hǎo gāng xiù bù shēng, gē xīn sì gāng zuì jiānzhēn, mèi mò cuò kàn rén. Sòng bǎ gāng dāo pèi mèi shēn, gāng dāo biàn shì hǎo jiànzhèng, cāngshān xuě huà ěrhǎi gān, nán zhé hǎo gāng rèn.
女:橄榄好吃回味甜,打开青苔喝山泉,山盟海誓先莫讲,相会待明年。明年花开蝴蝶飞,阿哥有心再来会,苍山脚下找金花,金花是阿妹,苍山脚下找金花,金花是阿妹。
Nǚ: Gǎnlǎn hào chī huíwèi tián, dǎkāi qīngtái hē shānquán, shānménghǎishì xiān mò jiǎng, xiāng huì dài míngnián. Míngnián huā kāi húdié fēi, ā gē yǒuxīn zàilái huì, cāngshān jiǎoxià zhǎo jīn huā, jīn huā shì ā mèi, cāngshān jiǎoxià zhǎo jīn huā, jīn huā shì ā mèi.

9. The Night of Grassland (草原之夜)

The classic Chinese folk The Night of Grassland was created in 1959. It is a interlude of the document film Green Grassland. This song is often called “Oriental Serenade” and has been designated as a world famous serenade by UNESCO.

Chinese Lyrics:

美丽的月色多沉静,草原上只留下我的琴声。
想给远方的姑娘写一封信,哎, 可惜没有邮递员来传情。
哎,哎,哎
等到千里雪消融,等到草原上送来春风。
可克达拉改变了模样,耶,姑娘就会来伴我的琴声。
来,来,来,来…..
姑娘就会来伴我的琴声。
哎,哎, 哎, 哎,哎,哎

English lyrics:

The moonlight is so beautiful and tranquil, leaving  only my music in the air of the prairie.
I want to write a letter to the girl far away. But what a pity there is no mailman to deliver my feelings (to her).
(I’ll) wait till the snow that extends to a thousand miles away melts. (I’ll )wait till the spring breeze blows across the prairie.
Then, Khakdalah will look differently. And the girl will come to join my music.
Come, come….

10. Why Are the Flowers So Red (花儿为什么这样红)

Why Are the Flowers So Red was an interlude of the 1963 Chinese spy film Visitors on the Icy Mountain. The song has a beautiful melody and tells a beautiful love story, left a deep impression on Chinese youths that time.

Chinese lyrics:

花儿为什么这样红
为什么这样红
红得好像
红得好像燃烧的火
它象征着纯洁的友谊和爱情
红得好像
红得好像燃烧的火
它象征着纯洁的友谊和爱情

花儿为什么这样鲜
为什么这样鲜
鲜得使人
鲜得使人不忍离去
它是用那青春的血液来浇灌
鲜得使人
鲜得使人不忍离去
它是用那青春的血液来浇灌

它是用那青春的血液来浇灌
它是用那青春的血液来浇灌

English lyrics:

How red the flower is
How red
So red
As if it is burning fire
It symbolizes pure friendship and love
So red
As if it is burning fire
It symbolizes pure friendship and love
How fresh the flower is
How fresh
So fresh
That I don’t want to leave
It was bred by the blood of youth
So fresh
That I don’t want to leave
It was bred by the blood of youth
It was bred by the blood of youth
It was bred by the blood of youth
Spread the love

6 Responses

  1. Sapan k says:

    I am Indian your song is awesome.

  2. Ji-Eun Kim says:

    Hahahahaha so funny Alice Zhao!

    And I will tag Corinne Chiu, Emma Sun, Joelle Tia, and Sydney Wang

  3. Alice Zhao says:

    And I will tag Ji-Eun Park, Alison Yi and Cindy Lu

  4. Yanna Anjul says:

    Haha Melissa Wang…… really?

    This is cute. And I will tag Eunice Park and Alice Zhao

  5. Melissa Wang says:

    love this so much lol

    @GraceLee you need to check this out

    and you too @SoojinLee, @YannaAnjul

  6. Octoberfly says:

    hey i really like this post. 🙂
    it reminds me a lot of my mom and aunt.

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