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People's Daily Online>>Life & Culture

Ancient appreciation (2)

By Lu Qianwen (Global Times)

13:13, December 28, 2011

Ancient music in vogue

Boasting a history of 4,000 years, guqin is one of China's oldest string instruments. In 2003, this plucked seven-string member of the zither family became the only Chinese instrument to make UNESCO's list of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

In 2008, its appearance in the opening ceremony of Beijing's Olympic Games revived its popularity. The unique, peaceful music enchanted both domestic and international audiences with its rare old-world sound.

At the opening ceremony, the ancient instrument perfectly underscored the density and longevity of China's history. From then on, guqin's musical quality and cultural history have become appreciated by more and more people.

"We young people nowadays know little about our own history," said Yan, explaining his interest in learning the guqin. "Old musical instruments like that can deliver a connection with ancient philosophies and a better understanding of our culture," he added.

The current guqin fever suggests that Yan is not alone pursuing the ancient tradition. Many young white-collar workers are signing up for lessons, seeking spiritual serenity through the ancient music.

Han Shuang, who works at a music training center in Fengtai District in Beijing, says that over the last two years, enrollment in guqin lessons has risen sharply, and most of the new students are young educated Chinese.

"Once the young professionals started coming, the number of guqin students increased sharply, rivaling those studying Chinese zither," Han said. The zither is another string instrument that has had a recent surge in popularity. "We believe it won't take long for the guqin to become more popular than the zither."

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