Guqin, a Seven-stringed Plucked Instrument

In the traditional Chinese culture, the culture of music is a large part of it. In the historical state of the feudal era of China, Qin, Chess, Book, and Painting were seen as the most important abilities for the scholar with knowledge, they are ways to improve oneself, and to learn to behave like the grant masters. Qin, the seven-stringed plucked instrument was among the top of them all, it was precious even to the powerful ones and scholar-bureaucrat, the unique status gives a great cultural value to the music of Guqin.

Design and Appearance

Conventional Guqin usually has a length of 3 feet and 65 inches, which represents the length of a year which consists of 365 days. The top part is shaped into a round shape that represents the sky. The bottom is built flat that represents the flat ground. The body of a Guqin is made and designed to mimic the body of the imaginary phoenix, the bird of wonder.

On the surface of Guqin, there are 13 stars, representing 13 months in the Chinese Calendar. They are either made with shells or gold, silver, jade, pearl. They are used to indicate the tune and fingering position.

At first, there were only five strings in Guqin. They represent the five elemental elements in traditional Chinese culture, the element of Metal, Wood, Water, Fire, and the Earth. The sixth string was added by the Wen emperor, for his son was passed away, it was called the string of Sorrow. The seventh string was added by the Wu emperor, for he urges his son to fight for his nation, it is called the string of Strength.

History and Culture

During these more than three thousand years of history of Guqin, it formed its own Guqin culture, preserved and developed until nowadays. The unique culture of Guqin is not only simply the culture of music in society, but also the etiquette culture and the ideas in fractions combined, musician seeks lofty, insipidity, and elegancy in the music of Guqin, it should give a rich overtone and be simple and elegant at the same time.

The most ancient record of Qin was out of 《诗经》and《尚书》, Guqin was mentioned in the 《国风》as “The great elegance beyond words can only be transferred through music”. The literature of 《诗经》was organized and published more than two thousand and five hundreds years ago, after at first the Qin was invented and became popular among folks, there must be hundreds of years considering lack of communication methods in the ancient time, the invention of Guqin must be dated back more than three thousand years ago.

In 2003, the culture of Qin has already been accepted into the Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO. Still, the continuous development of Guqin in modern days faces challenges, it lacks the power of spreading with folks, and it is difficult to merge the traditional music with nowadays ever colliding and merging music. If the culture of Guqin is easily merged and modernized, then it may kill the original value of Guqin.

To learn more about the traditional Chinese music, read more here!

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