Chinese New Year is nearly here and with office locations in both Hong Kong and Shanghai Imagesound and Musicstyling have a strong base in the Greater China region. One of our curators based in Hong Kong - Ruby Siu - has taken time out from her busy curation schedule to tell us more about how they curate music for the festival.

Celebrating Chinese New Year - Imagesounds Musical Approach
Celebrating Chinese New Year - Imagesound's Musical Approach

Ruby has been working for Musicstyling since 2014 and is currently the APAC Music Lead Curator based in our Hong Kong office. She has a diverse and broad range of contacts within the industry and is a versatile musician herself having earned a master’s in music at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. She studies Chinese and Canton popular styles and the cultural history of Chinese music as well as performing as an orchestral violinist with extensive experience in conducting. 

In addition to her classical repertoire Ruby has also collaborated with professional composers of contemporary classical music. She is currently studying music therapy to gain a greater in understanding how people hear and perceive the sounds around them.

With her strong musical background and diverse knowledge, Ruby focuses on creating unique audio identities for many luxury hotel groups in Greater China. She also leads the APAC media team, making Musicstyling a true creative pioneer with continuous expansion on regional library, utilizing local talents and incorporating Chinese philosophical thoughts in building brand identity.

Happy Chinese New Year
Happy Chinese New Year

Let's hear from Ruby herself...

Chinese New Year (CNY), or the Spring Festival, is the most important celebration in the calendar because of its cultural and historic significance - the festival signals the start of a new year. During CNY, you'll always hear familiar music and songs in the street and will hear everything from classic folk to Spring Festival songs that full of modern elements. Traditional tracks include "Golden Snake Dance", "Spring Festival Overture", " Rising Higher Step by Step" and there are lots of modern Chinese New Year songs like "Gong Xi Fa Cai", "Happy Years" too. These are the tunes you find yourself humming and are instantly familiar, but how much do you know about these classics? Today, the creative team from Imagesound Greater China will walk through the melody that evokes your initial memories of the Spring Festival.

A very well know track is “Rising Higher Step by Step". The well-known Guangdong composer Lu Wencheng wrote this powerful and progressive Cantonese track. The lead melody of the piece is played by the gaohu, accompanied by the dulcimer. These two instruments have a clear and melodic sounds that complement each other. In the song the fifth and eighth interval jumps strongly and advances progressively creating a feeling of rising higher step by step, as in the title. Another classic “Dancing of the Golden Snake” was used as the background music for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and has reached a worldwide audience. Composed by Nie Er in 1934 based on the folk melody "Inverted Eight Plates". The composition makes the beginning and end of the phrase correspond and whenever the main melody weakens, the drums rise which contributes to a rhythmic magic, like a golden snake dancing to the music.

How does this music with their unique Spring Festival vibe make everyone feel the same way? In addition to adopting Chinese-style features in rhythm, melodic composition, and musical phrases, the most important element is the use of musical instruments. Looking at the modern New Year songs such as "Spring Flowers", "Flowers Bloom and Prosperity" they too use distinctive folk instruments such as gongs and drums, wind instruments and Chinese flutes to create the same vibe.

Unsurprisingly one song can have different interpretations. "Dancing of the Golden Snake" has various arrangements, ranging from light chamber, full orchestral, traditional gongs and drums to jazz, all of which have different auditory associations. The creative team from our China offices have a in depth knowledge of Chinese New Year music, the arrangement of their musical instrumentation and the cultural origin of the Spring Festival. We pay attention to the details, from genres combined with diversified arrangement and features to promote brand building for different images and positioning, creating a new audio offering for Chinese New Year. From upmarket and elegant to fun and contemporary music blending the traditional and modern you may have a rough idea of what you want but it’s our mission to understand your brand and its musical identity and create unique festival sound.

Ruby has put together a sample of Chinese New Year music - if you click on the banner below you can listen to the selection.

Imagesound wishes you a prosperous Year of the Tiger!