The Hequ ballad, which is popular in Hequ county and surrounding areas in northwestern Shanxi province, is a form of improvised folk song that locals perform as they work and do everyday tasks to express their inner feelings.
A Hequ ballad is simple and natural with high-pitched, loud tunes and lyrics revealing deep feelings or depicting scenes of life.
The origin and development of the Hequ ballad are related to the specific history, geographical environment and folk customs of Hequ county, which is located at a bend in the Yellow River.
Due to poor local transport, barren land and unpredictable droughts and floods, locals had to leave their family members at home each year and go to the Hetao and Daqing Mountain regions in Inner Mongolia and Ningxia Hui autonomous regions for work, thus the development of the Hequ ballad which expresses the sorrow of separation, the bitterness of missing loved ones and the expectation of family reunions.
The Hequ ballad with strong local characteristics fully reflects the simple, bold and witty character of the people in Hequ county and their difficult life between the middle Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and the early Republic of China period (1912-1949), and has important academic research value.