Free Electone sheet music and registrations for The Bund II Theme Song (萬般情). The Cantonese name means “ten thousand types of love.”
Man Boon Cing, or Wan Ban Qing in Mandarin, is over 40 years old as of 2022. Here’s some background information if you’re unfamiliar with this classic Cantopop hit.
1980 saw the release of not one, not two, but three Shanghai gangland drama series by Hong Kong’s TVB. Sometimes referred to as The Bund Trilogy, the title theme songs for all three were famously assigned to legendary Cantopop maestros Joseph Koo and James Wong.
To paraphrase what I read on a Chinese website years ago, all three theme songs were to exhibit a similar grandeur, one that’s worthy of 1930s cosmopolitan Shanghai. They clearly did. But at the same, each song was also musically distinct.
The Bund, the first and the most famous of the three, was a harmonious hybrid of classic Chinese accompaniments and Western 70s TV music motifs.
Man Boon Cing, the second song, incorporated symphonic influences. And was structured around a simple yet incredibly effective chord progression.
Sheung Hoi Tan Lung Fu Tow, or “the Dragon and Tiger Conflict of Shanghai,” began with a soaring overture before segueing into a worldly Rumba. Creatively, it was also the boldest.
As is well-known, the three compositions were subsequently sung by Francis Yip. And so well-received were they, Francis was still performing them decades later.
Naturally, these “Shanghai theme songs” contributed much to the rising popularity of Cantopop and TVB in the 80s too. They furthermore established the Koo-Wong partnership as a formidable and profitable label. Practically every future collaboration by the duo was a commercial success.
Yamaha Electone Sheet Music and ELS-02C Registration Data for The Bund II Theme Song (萬般情)
Warning! The registration and Finale PrintMusic files are zip files! You might need to disable your virus/malware protection before downloading.
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- The octave piano introduction could, of course, be accomplished on the Electone ELS-02C without playing actual octave notes. But I felt it was way more fun and stylish to perform them the actual way. (Performance tip: start light before accenting the final notes)
- The dotted-minim bass notes of the intro, i.e., those within bars 2 to 5, could be played with some light application of Aftertouch. But take note not to overdo it as I’ve programmed a swelling trumpet sound into the user voice. Too much AT and it will sound like a howl.
- There was no way for me to accomplish all the necessary accompaniments with the lower keyboard, and so I resorted to an XG-like trick. (Or Midi trick). Very simply, the signature Am-G-G-Am arpeggios of the verses are performed as part of the drums. Yup. I programmed them as Add Drums using the Yun Luo sounds of the China Kit.
- Because of (3), my arrangement can only be played in A Minor … or not? There are different ways to change the arpeggio. You could simply re-record the notes in User Patterns 2 and 3. Or, you could go into instrument settings and change respective pitches. (Each pitch is a half note) Incidentally, Yun Luo is the only drum instrument on the Electone ELS-02C that allows you to do this “cheat.” As in, to program an arpeggio.
- After much fiddling, my tutti orchestra sounds seems about the right audio brilliance to me, sort of. If anything sounds too harsh/dull to you, consider experimenting with one of the adjustments suggested in the following section.
Reducing Harshness or Increasing Brightness of Electone Sounds, Particularly, Strings
I continue to see a lot of online criticism about Electone sounds; particularly, Electone strings sounds. A lot of criticism involves our strings being too harsh, too meek, or worst of all, too synthetic-sounding.
Well, the Electone is a digital emulator, put it that way, so I think it’s senseless to expect perfect authenticity. (Besides, what is a perfect sound? Everything from the environment to your speaker, to your earphones, to playback settings, affects it) That said, I agree the ELS-02C string presets could be better. Increasingly, I can’t find something that “jumps” at me right away.
When the above happens, I sigh and I grudgingly resort to one of the following solutions. Most of which are time-consuming, by the way.
- Reducing brilliance occasionally helps, especially if I plummet the setting all the way DOWN. However, this could result in sounds becoming muddy. (Which then creates another problem)
- Most registrations sold by Yamaha resort to creating user voices and then adjusting respective layer settings. For example, layering Strings 8 and Strings 9, then finetuning every AWM layer, down to attack, pitch, release rate, volume, etc. To me, this works but involves a phenomenal amount of work. Honestly, it’s a little pointless too unless you’re going for a competition or selling the registrations.
- DAW experts will tell you the proper way to do it is to use EQ, i.e., equalizer settings. On the Stagea, this could be easily applied as an effect. Adjusting highs will then minimise harshness or increase brightness, while boosting the correct mids will increase body, etc. The problem though, you need to know which EQ effect to apply and which parameters to tweak. You will need an EQ cheat sheet to refer to as well.
- Using the HM Enhancer effect could help. But again, you need to understand how it works. Good luck googling about audio HM Enhancers too.
- Further to creating user voices, a subtraction approach could help. Instead of piling new layers and fussing with parameters, consider removing something. Usually, the loud highs of an Electone preset are generated by just one or two AWM layers. Snuff those to achieve a rounder sound.
The short of it, it’s a lot of work. Work that could be indulgently fun if you enjoy sound-smithing. But a real pain if you’re more into performance than programming.
For me, I tend to do the minimum and accept whatever that’s acceptable. I know this sounds so unprofessional but there’s a reason why I’ve never thought about becoming an audio engineer. Yup, not even once since young.
Check out my other Electone posts here!