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Four Arts for Traditional Chinese Music-Guqin

 2014-08-17    sonrisabai    Other    Jinan    1164  

In traditional Chinese culture, fours arts have been considered as a must-do for those who want to become a refined literati and live a successful life. Four Arts refer to Guqin(lyre), Chinese chess, calligraphy and paintings. Guqin, is a seven-stringed plucked instrument, plays an important part in Four Arts. As the oldest strings instrument in China and the essence of traditional Chinese music, it means more than just an musical instrument for ancient Chines. Some people played Guqin according to different state of mind, as a emotional venting tool.

The history of gulin can be traced back to 5000 years ago. Ancient Chinese has this theory that 5 stars up in the sky and 5 elements on the earth. So at first it only got 5 strings which stood for Gold, Wood, Water, Fire and Earth. Later one emperor named King Wen of Zhou added one string in order to grieve for his deceased son. Ages later, another emperor added someone before the war, trying to lift up the soldiers spirit. Then the seven-stringed plucked instrument was born. It makes deep and grand sound, with beautiful shape. Every string tells different stories of history.

Guqin players over generations all particularly emphasize on the scene which should be quiet and elegant, for they believe only under such circumstances they can express perfectly the concept of Harmony between God and Human. No wonder the beautiful sound appears a lot in places with nice atmosphere such as frosty night with bright moon, majestic waterfall banks and foggy mountain forests.

Guqin looks like a flat and long music box, with 130cm in length, 20cm in width and 5cm in thickness. For whose that have been used for a long time, the paint on it might be worn off a little and develops different crazing such as plum blossom crazing, ox hair crazing, snake belly crazing and turtle shell crazing. Guqin with such crazings is more precious in the market, because it means the history and stories behind it.

Among all the traditional Chinese musical instrument, Guqin is no doubt having the most special sound. It is not like Erhu with sad and weeping voice, but it is with more euphemism and lingering, making listeners feel more heartbroken. It is not as loud and light as Guzheng(21 or 25-stringed plucked instrument), but it is more soothing and calm, straight to the bottom of the listeners heart. Guqin is delicate and shy as an instrument and it is best to play solo.

The sound of Guqin is not very loud, it is more like a low and deep voice, which can bring you back to ancient times. Almost every ancient Chinese literati got Guqin, so did the Confucius-the greatest philosopher of Ancient China. Among six lessons he was teaching, Guqin was compulsory. He tried to use Guqin to cultivate his students’ tastes. In BC 448, confucius even created this composition called “Zou Cao”, in order to mourning for two people murdered by someone. 

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