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String appeal

Updated: 2023-02-11 10:20 ( China Daily )
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The sanxian is a centuries-old plucked instrument endowed with deep-rooted symbolism.

According to sanxian performer Zhao Taisheng, the length of a northern sanxian is about 122 centimeters.

The fingerboard is traditionally around 80 cm long.

The instrument's three strings are often seen as representing heaven, earth and humankind.

The front of the drum symbolizes the sun; and the back, the moon.

The basic method of playing the instrument is to either slap with the thumb or pick with the finger.

Slapping produces strong, forceful beats and a clear, bright sound, and so is given the masculine designation yang. Picking produces a soft, harmonious sound, and so is yin, or feminine.

The five fingers of the left hand are used together, representing spring, summer, autumn, winter and long summer — the five seasons of the ancients.

Playing the three strings brings yin and yang into a harmonious and complementary position.

It helps understand heaven, earth and humankind, as well as the shining of the sun and reflection of the moon.

It echoes years born in glory and withering in darkness, and its song has a beginning and an end, like the seasons and the 24 solar terms of the year.

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