Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sound of Gu Qin

Gu Qin is one of the oldest music instrument of China, more than 5000 years some say. 5 silk twisted strings on a long wooden box was the early version of Gu Qin, it became 7 strings later on.
Music of Gu Qin is not pop music that appears to the younger generations. I sure didn't like it when I was young. It sounded depressing to the immature ears. Without life experience, one can not comprehend it's intensity.

Music had always been a great addition in life but not an addiction to me until the sound of Gu Qin reappeared in my life. A friend - non Asian male said to me once, you must like string instruments, and it can touch you deeper. It takes intense sounds to move an intensely emotionally complex human being. I paused for a long while, searched through all the music pieces in my head. He was right, out of my very limited knowledge of music, one can say passionless, I do find string instrument pieces move me more than anything else. Cello in particular if I cared to pay attention to a classical piece. String instruments echo with mind piercing effects, makes one think, makes one feel, makes one move, soft, firm, sweet, sad, high, low, vibrate, still, bodyless....

Music is sound of nature, part of nature, just like tea. One can drink a cup of bag tea everyday, or one can take the time to brew a cup of great old bush tea. What you get out of the experience is day and night.

Most artists are classified as performers, it's true that it take training, personal intuition, emotion involvement to reach a certain level of artistry. My question is, when performing at set times, is the performer at his/her most suitable mood for the piece. Often when some thing inspiring at a particular moment, presentation at that moment is the most optimal. One can only imitate emotion, but hardly the same as the actual emotion. Gu Qin is a instrument meant for personal playing rather than a performing art. Today is different due to modern economic marketing promotion. Hence very few great "performers".

A term to describe best friend in Chinese is Zhi Yin - Understand music. The best language can not express human emotions fully. Music can! When drinking tea, who can share your passion about what you are drinking? Words can not describe tea that can be understood to most audience. Only a sip of that tea, a simple facial expression resonates with another simple facial expression. That is Zhi Yin!

A truly moving piece of music lays pictures in your eyes closed or open. Swifting clouds, soft running water, hiking amongst Spring flower bushes, butterfly lands softly on your lips, shimmers of sun glaze on breezy lake, not just imaginations, but true pictures in mind.

This piece of music is my absolute favorite out of all. I can't sleep without it each night. It was downloaded a long while back when I first learn about Gu Qin, it didn't come with a name, I played it without knowing the title for a LONG time. Turns out this piece of music is named Wen Wang Cao - about Zhou Wen Wang. I didn't even know about my heritage when I already love it. A quick reminder, Zhou Wen Wang-writer of Yi Jing (Iching), father of first emperor of Zhou Dynasty, ancestor of my family. It's strange how the universe works. There's frequency, voice, messages everywhere without ones awareness. This piece combines Gu Qin and western string instruments, soft and intensely touches every strings in my mind and body, rolling clouds before Storm, glares of the sun ray pierce through layers and balls of dark, gray, soft white cloud, dissipate and drift under the warmth of late afternoon sun, bamboo forest beyond human world, slots of soft sun ray playing its own string music, dancing between swaying leaves... endless emotion, endless feeling, endless images.....



toki said...

Thank you Imen for sharing this wonderful Chinese tradition. Here is my obsession while having tea in a rainy Spring afternoon: http://media2.nacs.uci.edu/rgarfias/mp3/sanjo/02-han-gapduk-komungo.mp3

Hope you enjoy and very nice chatting with you ~ T

Imen said...


Thanks for the link..

It's my pleasure!