C-drama Music Composer: Chen Xue Ran

I have to admit that most of the time, when I’m watching these dramas, the music, for the most part, doesn’t really grab my attention. Sure, ever so often there will be one song that I like enough to find on YouTube or buy off of iTunes, but I’ve never really paid much attention to who the composers are for all this stuff and most of the songs I couldn’t really get into.

And then Guardian happened…

Most of the dramas tend to have more mellow, almost sappy music, but this theme song caught my attention right away. Dramatic, modern, it was much more like some epic movie theme song than for a little web drama series. I found it on YouTube and that was my introduction to Chen Xue Ran (陈雪燃), the talented composer (and singer) of this song. As I started to learn more about him, I also found out that he is responsible for many other songs on quite a few of the shows and movies I’ve watched, including the currently airing Martial Universe.

After graduating from the Berklee College of Music in 2014, he’s been able to make his mark in the industry very quickly. Starting with an internship working with Hollywood composer, Andrew Gross, he was able to network and make connections and get more work. In 2017, he ended up working on Princess Agents as a composer, and got more work on other series and movies until he ended up working with Luo Gun on the entire soundtrack for Guardian. (Along with the theme song, the music for that tearjerker of an ending, titled Kunlun, is also his work.)

His C-drama and C-movie credits include being either an arranger or composer (and occasional singer) for:

Princess Agents
Ancient Love Song
Love Actually
Detective Chinatown 2
Animal World
The Secret of the Three Kingdoms
Martial Universe
Tomb of the Sea

Currently based in Pasadena, California, Chen just finished work on music for Elvis Han’s upcoming series, Speed, and has more projects in the pipeline.

I’ve been able to find a lot of his work on YouTube, including his graduation concert and an interview he did about internships. He’s really done very well for himself in just four years and I’ve really enjoyed what he’s contributed to C-drama soundtracks. I look forward to seeing what he composes next.

For a taste of his work, you can check out this playlist I put together which includes my favorite song of his from Tomb of the Sea:

He has a YouTube channel.

And you can check out his professional website.

  1. 10 thoughts on “C-drama Music Composer: Chen Xue Ran

    I only watch some random episodes of Guardian (despite my liking of Zhu Yilong), but this OST is indeed fabulous. By using English lyrics and a grand feeling — it sets the drama apart from other C-drama and really suits the theme of the drama.

  2. 10 thoughts on “C-drama Music Composer: Chen Xue Ran

    Hi, Enid Bee! Thank you very much for sharing this insightful information. When I watch the C-Dramas, I often hear some amazing incidental music compositions, and wonder who is the music composer. The drama bio does not mention the music composer, so it remains a mystery. The Guardian theme song is vibrant and memorable.

    I might check Itunes for the drama soundtracks, but it’s a hit or miss. They did load Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms, so I was able to purchase that OST last year. I am only familiar with Chinese music composers, Roc Chen and Tan Dun.

    • 10 thoughts on “C-drama Music Composer: Chen Xue Ran

      YouTube has helped a lot, especially if the song ends up on a channel like YoYo Rock which often gives the composer name and even the lyrics. That was how I found out who Chen Xueran along with some other singers. Shazam also has been really helpful when I hear a song on a show and want to find out who it is. They seem to have a pretty good database and often will have a link to the video or even directly on Spotify or iTunes to get the title and artist name.

  3. 10 thoughts on “C-drama Music Composer: Chen Xue Ran

    Thank you. I noticed the rich orchestral opening in Guardian’s opening OST immediately and looked up Chen Xueran after watching ep 1. iirc the Budapest Orchestra did the opening OST.

    I didn’t look up the composer(s) for Nothing Gold Can Stay, but there are 2 CD worth of its OST and it’s also among the better drama OSTs. When I glanced at the credits, it shows the Shanghai Orchestra among its musicians. Some of the pieces are focused on short, pretty melodies, so some of them can come off as fluff. Similar to some of the 3L3W TMOPB OST.

    Another thing I noticed recently is the instrumental music background for Ashes of Love is very similar to the ones from the Legend of White Snake 天乩之白蛇传说 if you’re able to disregard the lyrics. The Chusen production team, Huan Rui, has instrumental music with the same musical signatures as AoL that just finished broadcast.

    Tan Dun is a good C composer.

    I’d love to hear what OSTs people love. Some pop ones are also ok. Wuxin, Rush to the Dead Summer. Not fantastic but pleasant.

    • 10 thoughts on “C-drama Music Composer: Chen Xue Ran

      Tomb of the Sea has had a really good soundtrack. Each week they do a different opening credit sequence with different music and I’m never disappointed. I haven’t had a chance to look up who worked on all of their music, but that and Princess Agents have been the other two OSTs I’ve enjoyed.

      • 10 thoughts on “C-drama Music Composer: Chen Xue Ran

        Just to clarify, I don’t actually like HuanRui or AoL music much.

        Thanks! I think you like the slightly “Westernized” and/or modern-influenced C drama OST. Edgier sounds. I often prefer sweeter, purer, happier or rich sounds (This describes the NGCS OST a bit). The former can be interesting, but just not my primary line of sounds. In fact, I dislike some of the computer-added sounds that Chen XR sometimes adds into his final music.

        But the one example you included for TotS is interesting. The early part has the slightest of that classic Western (I mean the cowboy flick type of Western here) tinge to it, which fits the visual desert landscape well.

        Some other C composers are Lin Wei-Chieh, Liang Lei, Chen Yi. But they write mostly almost atonal music (not my cup of tea either – too academic and pedantic for me) with a few exceptions like this one on YT

        Unlike CXR, these don’t overlap with the pop genre.

  4. 10 thoughts on “C-drama Music Composer: Chen Xue Ran

    I also super love that song from Guardian! I really like the main songs for Guardian too, but I didn’t know Chen Xue Ran composed all of that amazing music~ I was just watching the MV the other day and marvelling at the beauty of the song and how well put together it was xD. Thanks for sharing this wonderful information haha~

  5. 10 thoughts on “C-drama Music Composer: Chen Xue Ran

    I really love Guardian’s ost! Usually I’ll skip the opening credit when watching cdramas but Guardian is one of the selected few that I would actually listen to and enjoy. One other recent cdrama with awesome soundtrack is Bloody Romance. The songs used in BR are just so beautiful and really fit the atmosphere of the drama.

    • 10 thoughts on “C-drama Music Composer: Chen Xue Ran

      Yes, I enjoyed the ost for Guardian a lot, as well as for Bloody Romance too.

  6. 10 thoughts on “C-drama Music Composer: Chen Xue Ran

    This is such a nice spotlight, I’m glad to have discovered Chen Xue Ran from your blog. I actually love listening to OSTs, especially when writing, and it’s always cool to find someone so talented to follow. I’m impressed by his versatility too, the songs you showcased in your playlist vary from huge dramatic orchestra works to more modern almost EDM style music. Also cool to know that he’s hard at work somewhere in Pasadena, in my own neck of the woods 🙂

What do you think?