“Long time no see! Although we are with each other right now, I know I cannot wait to see you again,” Chinese President Xi Jinping borrowed words from a local folk song to extend his greetings to global guests at the opening ceremony of the 2018 Boao Forum for Asia held on April 10 in Boao, South China’s Hainan Province.
“Long Time No See”, a love song of the Li ethnic group in Hainan, is regarded as a window to Hainan music. The Li people are adept at singing and dancing. As one of the original residents on the Hainan Island, they have their own culture, in which music is the most splendid part.
Folk songs are an important tool to pass on the ethnic culture and customs as the Li ethnic group doesn’t have its own written characters. In 2008, the Li folk songs were put onto the national intangible cultural heritage list.
The Li folk songs are very distinctive even regionally. They cover a wide range of themes, including story-telling and feeling expression and they are sung at various occasions, such as at workplaces and at happy ceremonies.
The tunes of the Li songs are also rich. They are graceful and lyrical, resounding and bold, soft and touching, signifying the positive, unsophisticated, straightforward and firm character of the Li people.
One sentence of a song in the Li language normally consists of five words, while those found in the Hainan dialect generally consists of seven words. Furthermore, locally four sentences are referred to as chapters.