Recently I received an email and link from a Chinese friend who wanted to share her love of what she called “traditional Chinese whistling music.” This is indeed melodic whistling music. But if you’re old and foreign enough, you may recall “Are You Going to Scarborough Fair?,” popularized in the late ’60s by the US folk duo Simon and Garfunkel, used as one of the songs for Dustin Hoffman’s breakout in The Graduate.
I wrote her back gently saying it wasn’t traditional Chinese music, but based on an ancient bittersweet UK folk song from perhaps as long ago as the 17th century, and asked her to check out the Simon and Garfunkel version also. Enough said about Chinese copying — and Simon and Garfunkel getting publishing rights to a song they didn’t write. Both guilty. Let’s just be happy that a 17th century Brit folk tune recycled through an American band can find appeal in 21st century China.