About Guqin (A Note From the Artist)

Since the art of guqin music was recognized in 2003 by UNESCO as one of humanity's cultural treasures warranting protection, it has begun to receive more attention around the world. However, because of the instrument's rarity, it has fallen far short of broad popularity. Although many are quite curious about guqin music, most have little understanding of it. Thus, achieving a wider international audience who are able to appreciate guqin music is a very difficult task indeed. For this reason, it is incumbent upon every scholar and performer of the guqin to strive to meet this challenge and this is a goal to which all of us who are devoted to the guqin should dedicate ourselves.

Guqin music is China's oldest, purest traditional music, having received very little influence from other Chinese or foreign musical traditions. Within the treasury of Chinese music culture, no other musical instrument can match its extraordinary cultural value. For over a millennium, the guqin repertoire has been preserved, a detailed historical record of the guqin's development has been maintained, and a completely unique system of notation of its music established, which makes the tradition an important and integral part of Chinese culture.

As the contemporary qin scholar Cheng Gongliang 成公亮 remarked in the postscript to his work titled Pao xiu luo lan 袍修羅蘭:

In traditional Chinese culture, the guqin occupies a very important and unique status. It is a rarely seen instrument in either the performing or popular arts. It is an instrument used by the Chinese literati to express yearning and to convey emotion and inspiration. Its elegantly antique sound is often the echo and reverberation from a kind of spiritual realm. It is like a guide to the musing mind. The ancients often used the guqin to articulate their thoughts, playing out their innermost feelings while expressing their spiritual and philosophical worlds.

I have never sought fame or fortune by playing the guqin, and have for over forty years simply offered lessons and occasionally played for movie soundtracks and theatrical dramas. Now, at the urging of my many students, I am releasing my first CD, with a second CD in preparation. If the music I perform increases the audience for the guqin and deepens their appreciation and understanding of the guqin, then I will have achieved my fundamental goal for releasing these CDs.

Wu Ziying

Seattle 2005