Friday, May 18, 2007

Guzheng with Western Characteristics

Andrew pointed out to me a video featuring the guzheng (古筝), the ancient Chinese instrument I was making an attempt at learning. Although there is now a guzheng sitting in my apartment (music department friend Sarah, seen in the picture, bought one and practices in my home) I seem to have given up on it. I don't think I have the patience for learning a new instrument at this point. Also, I found out that the guzheng is an instrument for girls.

The video is about a Chinese woman residing in America who was classically trained in Beijing on the guzheng, but has been influenced by experimental musicians in America and has applied this knowledge to the guzheng. Almost as interesting as the video itself are the comments I am seeing left by the Chinese who have watched it, which I will attempt to translate:

She can't even play one section well! Don't slander classical music!

Rotten. How is it she is considered a musician.

Very disorderly; guzheng should not be used for experiments. Sounds awful
(the Chinese phrase, 难听死了, would translate literally as something like "difficult to listen to to the point of death").

This is simply disorganized playing.

What irritates me the most is the English amongst the Chinese.

It looks like this is causing some controversy.

Before I give a false impression of my Chinese ability, I did have to look up words like "slander." And there are a few comments which I don't quite grasp, despite understanding the words. The video can be found here. More traditional guzheng performances can be found by searching for "guzheng" on YouTube.


Matthew said...

Any foreigner who takes a crack at trying some classical Chinese instruments is impressive in my book. I've been tempted to learn the er hu. I've heard a lot of beggars playing it and I figure it'd be a great skill for my future career as a beggar on the streets of Boulder, CO.

Dan said...

Of the things I have spent my time doing in China, learning to play guzheng is not one of the most practical. But no one comes to teach in China because it's practical.