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The zither comes hither

Updated: 2021-01-25 07:43 ( CHINA DAILY )
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Guqin player Sun Ying and singer Yang Huahua blend guqin with vocals and release their album, Fantastic Telling, featuring seven songs they adapted from some of the most famous traditional Chinese pieces. CHINA DAILY

About a year ago, guqin (Chinese zither) player Sun Ying and singer Yang Huahua met by chance at Modern Sky, one of the country's largest record companies, in Beijing, where both were working on their own recording projects.

They started to musically improvise for fun. And this unexpectedly turned into a new project.

On Jan 12, Modern Sky released their album, Fantastic Telling, blending guqin with vocals.

The album features seven songs the two musicians adapted from some of the most famous traditional Chinese pieces, including Feng Qiu Huang (A Love Story), Qing Ping Yue (Peaceful Melody) and Qiu Feng Ci (Autumn Wind Song).

"All the guqin pieces in the album are very familiar to me since I've played them many times," says Sun, who started to play guqin with veteran musician and educator Zhao Jiazhen in 2001.

"But Yang and I wanted to experiment with something new to offer listeners a fresh perspective of the guqin."

In 2004, she enrolled in the middle school affiliated with the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing and earned top scores.

In 2010, she studied guqin at the conservatory, where she earned both her bachelor's and master's degrees in 2014. She has taught guqin at the Tianjin Conservatory of Music since 2018.

The elegant instrument and beautiful sounds appealed to Sun when she was a child. She first encountered the zither at Zhao's home.

"I'm drawn to the guqin. First of all, it's beautiful. Second, it generates calm and relaxing sounds," she says.

"Many people know the guqin as an ancient instrument. But it can be modern and expressive."

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