Relaxing Ancient Chinese Guqin Music
The guqin (古琴) is a plucked seven-string Chinese musical instrument. It has been played since ancient times, and has traditionally been favoured by scholars and literati as an instrument of great subtlety and refinement, as highlighted by the quote “a gentleman does not part with his qin or se without good reason,” as well as being associated with the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius.
It is sometimes referred to by the Chinese as “the father of Chinese music” or “the instrument of the sages”. The guqin is not to be confused with the guzheng, another Chinese long stringed instrument also without frets, but with moveable bridges under each string.
Traditionally, the instrument was simply referred to as the “qin” (琴) but by the twentieth century the term had come to be applied to many other musical instruments as well.
The prefix “gu-” (古; meaning “ancient”) was later added for clarification. Thus, the instrument is called “guqin” today.
There are more than 3,360 known surviving pieces of guqin music from ancient and imperial periods.
On 7 November 2003, UNESCO announced that the Chinese guqin was selected as an Intangible World Cultural Heritage. In 2006, guqin was listed in the List of National Non-material Cultural Heritage in China.
In 2010, a Song period guqin was sold for $22 million, making it the most expensive musical instrument ever sold.
Legend has it that the qin, the most revered of all Chinese musical instruments, has a history of about 5,000 years, and that the legendary figures of China’s pre-history – Fuxi, Shennong and Huang Di, the “Yellow Emperor” – were involved in its creation.
Nearly all qin books and tablature collections published prior to the twentieth century state this as the actual origins of the qin, although this is now viewed as mythology.
It is mentioned in Chinese writings dating back nearly 3,000 years, and examples have been found in tombs from about 2,500 years ago. The exact origins of the qin is still a very much continuing subject of debate over the past few decades.