Feb 25, 2014

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'Have you ever considered learning how to play an ancient Chinese instrument? In Shanghai, the Guqin, an instrument with a history of over 3,000 years, is still being played in a number of different places.

Today is the first day of Feng Yanwen’s Guqin class. Feng says she wanted to learn to play the Guqin after hearing it played at a new shopping mall in Putuo District.

When I was visiting the exhibition, I heard someone playing the instrument. And I was deeply attracted by the music, because it’s very soothing. said Feng Yanwen, Guqin student.

The plucked seven-string musical instrument of the zither family is sometimes called the father of Chinese music. People often confuse it with another long Chinese zither called the Guzheng. The Guqin is smaller and has no moveable bridges under the strings. But the public is more familiar with the Guzheng, because it is widely used to play popular songs and even western music.

A local music professor says that doesn’t mean the Guqin can’t play what the Guzheng does, but many Guqin players don’t want to be that popular.

The guqin has traditionally been favoured by scholars and literati as an instrument of great subtlety and refinement. Listeners need to ponder before understanding the music. Its music has aesthetic value. Besides, although it’s easy to learn the instrument at the very beginning, it’s difficult to reach a master level. said Liu Hong, Professor, Shanghai Conservatory of Music.

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In Shanghai, the Guqin, an instrument with a history of over 3,000 years, is still being played in a number of different places.

Liu says that students at his school are required to learn the Guqin in their third year. The school offers at least two Guqin classes every semester. But he says there are not enough playing opportunities for his students, and the mall exhibition has offered them a good platform.

In Shanghai, the Guqin, an instrument with a history of over 3,000 years, is still being played in a number of different places.

“I learned the Guqin, because it’s peaceful. And it can cultivate my moral character.” said Jiang Bei, Guqin Player.

Exhibition organizers say besides showing off the Guqin, they want to promote traditional Chinese culture through other ways, such as lectures and displays.

The music of the Guqin is an intangible cultural heritage and the instrument exists in a material form. We hope that the audience can learn the culture through the introduction of its history and evolution. said Yang Zhijian, Director, Shanghai Guqin Cultural Foundation.

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