For my 50th vid I wanted to do something special! So here's a litte "Zen" like piece on the Chinese guqin.
I started to play this instrument, on and off, a few years ago when I had time on my hands as I was clustered to a wheelchair due to a broken kneecap.
The history of this instrument goes back 3000 years.
If you want to know more about it then do a youtube search on "guqin wang fei"
She's a great guqin player and an authority on its history. She teaches in San Francisco and runs an internet shop that sells instruments, books, cd's and dvd's.
I kinda wonder what Blind Lemon would think of this ;-)
The wire you see coming out of the guqin is the microphone I used to record; so this is not an "electric" guqin as some people think - it's just miked up close,hence the sound.
I bought my qin (Naga model from around $1700) from Wang Fei at www.chineseculture.net
A quality instrument without any problems. It came directly from China without any hassles.
I think the instruments from $3-500 are student grade instruments; not bad but not great either.
In any case if you're not sure if you'll be able to play it, it might be better to buy such an instrument first or try to find someone in your area that has one.
One thing to watch though is the tuning system. Mine has a modern tuning system; the attachements under my qin have guitar-like tuners or machineheads. The old system just attaches the strings to two posts without any possiblility to adjust them. This means, I saw it on a video, you'll have to pull like crazy when you attach them as the other side of the qin (right side where you'll see those tassels) has limited tuning ability (they're just for fine tuning).
I've been playing guitar for 38 years so I have a well developed right hand and that did not pose any problems in playing the qin. The left hand takes some practice and pain on the thumbnail; my left hand "guitar fingertop calluses" are a bonus too. If you haven't played any string instrument it will be tough and you will need a lot of commitment (15-30 minutes a day will not get you far). This is not like a guitar with which you can play a thousand songs strumming three chords.
I bought tons of dvd's and books....all in chinese of course and so far I only understand "meoh"...
The only book I found useful is Gong Yi's big green book that comes with two cd's; his dvd set is also good. The book has western standard music notation and I transferred the songs I wanted to play into guitar-like tablature. I once mentioned this at a qin forum and was laughed away of course; tradition is a very strong point for them. Nevertheless that tablature says where to put my fingers at which string and which string to pluck and that's all you need.
There are several english spoken sites that explain all the chinese characters used in qin so you'll be able to find out what it means. The songs in chinese tablature without an audio sample and standard music notation are for us western people impossible to learn though.
Thanks to my guitar-like tablature I was able to learn and memorise songs and thanks to my guitar experience (left and right hand) I was able to play, let's say 'acceptable' in a short time; without those features I would not have gotten that far