幸亏有些东西是拆不了也抹不去的。那就是深植在我们脑海里，我们从小在这片土地上受到熏陶，打从心里喜欢的各种歌曲和音乐。这里头有多姿多彩，种类繁多的中外流行歌曲，古典音乐，民歌华乐甚至教会歌曲等等。通过这些互不相干但熟悉而亲切的声音，昔日美好的光景都一一再现，就有如Carpenter 的歌曲Yesterday once more 一般。我一向觉得，这些伴随我们成长的歌曲音乐虽然不一定是自己民族传统的一部分，也不一定都很伟大或富有创意，但贵在通而不俗，情真意切。形成了我们个人精神文化，审美，品味不可分割的一部分。比日趋肤浅的所谓民族传统更为深刻而富有意义－只因其中有情。
MUSIC AS MEMORY
Phoon Yew Tien
No matter how you look at it Singapore is still a young island state. Although its population is predominantly Chinese, it is a multi-racial society. Its early colonial rule, immigrant population and subsequent political orientation have led to the culture as it is today. Immigrants brought with them traditional cultures and customs from their original homelands. But with changes in the world along with political reforms and social transformation over the last 50 years, the advances in information technology have dealt heavy blows on the already less than entrenched ethnic cultural traditions of ours.
The formation of a particular culture regardless of its depth requires time to establish and cannot happen without memories and emotions. It did not take very long for Singapore to develop from an insignificant fishing village to a modern nation. Economic success came around the 1970s. The last few decades have seen furious transformation in many areas in Singapore. In the land-scarce urban landscape, many old buildings, villages, farmland, government flats and private houses and factories have been disappearing under economic policies and urban development plans. In their place emerged blocks and blocks of strange buildings and towns. This was perhaps necessary and a matter of course. But there is an inevitable sense of loss as many memories can no longer be recalled and indigenous nostalgic feelings have become out of place.
Fortunately, there are some things that are unmovable and indelible, deeply etched in our minds, such as songs and music we have imbibed on this land and have always had a soft spot for since we were young. Among them there are a great variety and wonderful array of Chinese and foreign pop songs, classical works, folk tunes and even church hymns. Through these unrelated and yet familiar and endearing sounds, the good old times begin to appear before us like yesterday once more, as the Carpenters’ song sings. I have always thought that the music we have grown up with does not have to be from our own ethnic traditions. Neither does it have to be a masterful or creative work. More importantly it should be true and sincere; it may be common but not vulgar. It can also become an inseparable part of a person’s spiritual, aesthetic and tasteful make-up. It is much more meaningful than the so-called ethnic tradition that is becoming increasingly shallower because there are true feelings in it.
Home (String Quartet and Harp)
Composed by Phoon Yew Tien
Theme music from The Theatre Practice production Family (adapted from Ba Jin’s novel), its elegant melody in slow waltz tempo expresses a slight tinge of sorrow and despair.