High Peaks Pure Earth has translated two songs about Tibetan unity. "Mentally Return" was first performed in Rebkong in 2007 for the Losar (Tibetan New Year) outdoor performance by the giant of Tibetan music today, Yadong, and his three most well-known students, Kunga, Tsewang and Gangshung. "The Sound of Unity" is new from July 2010 and it is performed by the Amdo singer Sherten, also a big name in contemporary Tibetan music.
Both songs share the same topic of unity amongst Tibetans but are markedly different in style. Whilst these two songs indicate that Tibetan identity and unity amongst all Tibetans were themes in songs both before and after the turbulent year for Tibetans with the protests of 2008, "Mentally Return" is the more cautious of the two songs in terms of the way the messages of the song are conveyed and the lyrics are arguably even more powerful and poetic in their subtlety. For example, in "Mentally Return", the word "Tibet" (in Tibetan, bod) is never mentioned and instead, Tibet is referred to as the "bountiful land on the roof of the world" or the "Land of Snows". The metaphor of the Tibetan circle dance is used to indicate unity and Tibet is also called both the fatherland and the mother - a place of comfort with the feeling of home. Tellingly, the singers are also from various parts of this "bountiful land", Yadong, Kunga and Tsewang are from Kham and Gangshuk is from Amdo. Their places of origin in themselves are at odds with the map - none of them are from the place marked today as "Tibet" (Xizang in Chinese, known by Tibetans as U-Tsang, central Tibet).
High Peaks Pure Earth presents five music videos by Tibetan singer Tashi Dhondup (also sometimes spelled Tashi Dondrup) from Amdo. According to this report by Radio Free Asia from March 5, 2010, Tashi Dhondup, 30, was sentenced to 15 months of re-education through labour for "separatist activities" related to his music on January 5, 2010.
Interestingly, no individual credits are given for the song, it is presented completely as a group effort. Even where the name of the lyricist should be, there is just the description “strong-willed”. The beginning of the video, below the song title, tells us that the song is "…for the hard-headed people out there".
This bold new style of musical expression heard in "New Generation" has been quite controversial in Tibetan cyberspace with Tibetan bloggers praising Yudrug for their outspoken lyrics but some also criticising Yudrug for adopting a style that is seen as “too western”. Whatever your musical taste may be, the song is undeniably powerful and energetic with a rousing chorus:
The new generation has a resource called youth The new generation has a pride called confidence The new generation has an appearance called playfulness The new generation has a temptation called freedom
The Yudruk phenomenon shows not only that Tibetans can be cool, but that it is cool to be Tibetan. This is a radical shift. But not only does it show a kind of Tibetanness that is on the cutting edge of cool. It also makes it clear that a Tibetan image can be created and exist entirely outside of the Chinese imagination. This is a kind of Tibetanness that was made by and for Tibetans.
High Peaks Pure Earth would like to thank our own "Green Dragons" firstly for drawing our attention to this video and also for their help with this difficult translation. Thank you.