25 NOV 2016 – 5:29PM
SBS World News Radio: The guqin is an ancient musical instrument recognised as an important part of the world’s heritage. It has a history dating back at least three thousand years and was played by the Chinese philosopher, Confucius. Rarely seen outside of China, Australian audiences are hearing it played by one of its master performers.
By Greg Dyett
25 NOV 2016 – 4:00 PM UPDATED 25 NOV 2016 – 5:29 PM
The ancient sounds of the guqin as played by Master Yang Qing.
Speaking through a translator, he says the soft, elegant sounds of the seven-stringed guqin are designed to promote love.
“The sounds of this instrument, they are all harmonious. It’s about love, it’s about kindness. The sound is not that loud but what we are trying to do is that through the sounds of the music, we are trying to promote the mentality, the ideology of love, loving our nations, loving for the people so this is what we want to promote through this instrument. And what I’ve said just now, it also connects this instrument, it’s just like our teacher, our mother, our friend and it’s also about time, bring about harmony to the people around us.”
The Nan Tien Institute, which runs Australia’s largest Buddhist college, helped to bring Master Yang to Australia for a series of performances.
The institute’s Venerable Juefang says the instrument has Buddhist sensibilities.
“It gives space to the performer so in the Buddhist context, it is also the same. Everyone has our own lives, how are we going to build our own life, how are we going to perform our own music of our life, it’s all within ourselves. In the Buddhist context, there is this notion about emptiness. Emptiness means that there is space, there is all sorts of possibility to build our own life, to have a complete life, so this music – guqin – and Buddhism, the cultivation about a human being, there is actually a lot of relevance.”
While clearly revered by the Chinese, UNESCO recognised its global importance in 2003 by declaring the art of the guqin a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
There are only a handful of teachers in Australia and the hope is that this visit will raise awareness of a vital part of Chinese heritage.
“What I’ve heard is there are about three places in Melbourne that teaches this instrument so that could be about three people or more teaching it. And in Sydney, he’s only aware that he has a student teaching it in Sydney, one person, so this instrument, guqin is basically learned among the Chinese here but it’s a very small community so he hopes that through this performance there will be more promotion of this because this is a beautiful instrument that promotes harmony.”