Female: Wearing the bamboo hat, I walk to the field with my sweetheart hand in hand. Sweating under the sun, we work hard together.
Running the waterwheel, we start working before dawn.
Male: Standing in bone-chilling water, we work hard together.
We lead the plowing cow, working through the field.
Female: Let’s not complain, let’s work together, we work hard for our meals.
牛犁歌 Plowing Song
Taiwan used to be an agricultural society. Most people worked as farmers, growing rice which is one of the staples of the Taiwanese diet. Planting rice was an extremely labor-intensive activity. Farmers spent long hours standing in muddy water, plowing the land with the help of water buffalos and planting the seeds by hand. While laboring in the fields, they sometimes sang to amuse themselves.
This folk song reminds me of the hard-working slaves in the cotton fields in the south, and how they might sing to lift their spirits. From that, the idea arose of arranging this piece in the style of the blues. In spite of the difference in musical styles, the folk song and blues mesh surprisingly well.