Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Zhi Yin

so exciting: gymnastics, diving, phelps.
...I think the most tranquil is when the huge scroll opens...what dancers are painting here is ink wash (水墨), the branch of chinese painting being the closest to calligraphy. earliest chinese paintings were ornamental. during the Warring States Period (403-321 BC), it became representational of the surrounding world. artists from the Han (202 BC) to the Tang (618-906) dynasties mainly painted human figures. gradually, they started singling out the background landscape as the main subject, leaving out the humans - many considered the landscape paintings were the highest form of chinese painting. the techniques can be roughly divided into the meticulous court-style (Gong Bi 工笔) and freehand style (Xie Yi 写意). some freehand ink-wash landscape artists I like - Wang Zhirui (?-?), Ba Da Shan Ren (1626-1705)...
the instrument used here is Gu Qin. seven strings. four octaves. original scores read like this. the earliest ones being found dated about 2500 years ago, mentioned in writings dating back 3000 years. among its players, Confucius is a famous one - well, ancestors don't say 'play' Gu Qin, but 'caress' (抚琴). often times, subtle gentlemen carry them to quiet places, in mountains, by lake, or in a bamboo forest...the left hand walking on the strings changes the pitch of the right hand notes at the tails of each sentence, letting emotions fully diffuse into the surroundings...another famous player is Boya from the Spring and Autumn Period (roughly 8th to 5th century BC). he was highly admired for his unparalleled skills, but not being understood - he felt. one day, a woodman Zhong Ziqi heard his playing in a woods and was able to pronounce all the meanings as if reading Boya's mind. they became good freinds. when Ziqi died, Boya broke the strings and vowed never to play again. the story gave chinese a word Zhi Yin (知音, literally 'to know one's music') to describe a close and sympathetic friend, a soul mate.
thanks to the invention of paper, the scores were kept and learned generation by generation...share Boya's score played by Guan Pinghu (管平湖), a 20th century Gu Qin master. his recording was included in the Voyager Goldern Record and sent into outer space by spacecrafts from both NASA and China. - perhaps some alien Zhi Yin is enjoying them right now :)...2500 yrs ago, when Boya was playing this song, Ziqi amazed,'how vast are the rivers and oceans!' - and the music was exactly called Liu Shui (Flowing Water).
(to be continued.)
A big fan

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