The Guqin

When I was in China, I wanted to find a CD of guqin music. Why? Well, the answer has to do with Academic Decathlon…

I’m an Academic Decathlon coach for Berkner High School and back in 2006, the main theme was Chinese civilization. Me and my team immersed ourselves in Chinese history, art, and music. Although not all the music CD was stuff I liked – the Beijing Opera piece was particularly cringe-inspiring – the guqin (pronounced goo-chin) pieces were very soothing and lovely. In China, the quqin, a long zither-like instrument, is considered the instrument of the scholar and philosopher, making it appropriate for inspiring calm, collected thought.

So, around Thanksgiving 2006, I was in Beijing and I wandered on in to a Xinhua News Book Store and looked over their wares. There, in the music section, was a triple CD of guqin music. Three and a half hours of serenity, all for 10 yuan, or $1.25 American at the time. I have no idea what the track names are, since they are all in Chinese. It doesn’t matter, though, because I can play this collection straight through without stopping, over and over and over again.

As a collection, it’s not monumental or critical or anything like that. I don’t even know the title of the CD. All I know is that classical Chinese guqin playing is beautiful stuff, especially for a cool, rainy Sunday afternoon when one wants to contemplate things. Overall, I rate my Chinese CD as a happy 8, since that’s a rather auspicious number in Chinese numerology. If you like to chill out, seek for traditional Chinese guqin music, kick back, and read a little Zhuang Zi while you’re at it.

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