List of Monumental sculpture projects 2015

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Friday, 19 June 2009

Stephen C. Walker guqin player, learning Guqin

Stephen C.Walker has several sites on the guqin, very eloquent. I learnt that 3 of his sites are blocked in China. Curious. One of them is so attractive, expressive on Liu ShaoChun - Master Player from Nanjing, grandfather of a friend. These are very bright writings crossing Chinese, Non-Chinese boundaries with Medieval music sources too, and videos of his playing - how convincing is a qin scholar who only talk and not play? (many play but only for themselves, see quote below *) His background is solid with musical training at an early age, and from his texts he probably attacks all his interests fully - he calls "plumbing" - :)

Swann reproduces here, his quote on his welcome page, which expresses the essence of the guqin.

琴之為物, 乃聖人治世之音, 修身養性之器。
"The sage-kings used its tone to order the world. It is the tool for cultivating character and nourishing the fundamental nature. Such is the qin."

余嘗謂彈琴與人聽, 固不足言; 彈琴及同志小集, 僅供研究, 亦不足言; 彈琴至我彈與我聽, 庶乎可言矣。然仍不如我雖彈我並不聽, 手揮目送, 純任自然, 隨氣流轉, 不自知其然而然, 斯臻化境矣, 斯可言琴矣。然此亦僅可與知者道耳。

"I have said before that playing the qin for others to hear is hardly worth speaking about. Playing it at small gatherings of the like-minded only provides for discussion and conferral, and is likewise not worth speaking about. Playing while I alone listen is almost worth speaking about, but it is not equal to playing without listening. My hands and thoughts move effortlessly together; in purity I rely on the spontaneous, following the circling flows of the cosmic breath; I know not that I am so but am simply so—such is to reach the realm of transformation, and this alone can be called the qin. It can be spoken about only with those who truly understand."

- Zhang Ziqian 張子謙 (1899-1991)

*I totally agree with the essence of the message, however, this is at a very high level of achievement, we are talking about someone doing soliloguy with himself through the qin.

For other players, we need a huge amount of playing in group and outside of group situations to raise the level (of any art). You must have mutual learning opportunities, but not only group situations, but also a lot of time by yourself. You only have to see a general level of any art in any community.

Take a very banal example, cooking is generally good everywhere in Hong Kong - whereas not so sure in a lost town in the middle of a desert somewhere in a vaste country (this includes China). Simply because, you have no competition and no parallel samples.

Coming back to the basic question, is it better to learn guqin in a group - which group? or under a single teacher? As Christopher E says, Swann must first find out why she wants to learn the Guqin in the first place and then decide.

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