The guqin is a quiet, 7-string Chinese zither, traditionally played for private meditation in nature. The instrument of the literati, its history is rife with Taoist-Confucian ideology, practices of self-refinement, and lore of telepathic spiritual connection between players and worthy listeners. I have been studying guqin since 2006 (in China on a Fulbright in 2012-13) and working on intermedia projects remapping its unique aesthetic onto new environments, examining individuality of place and the possibility of nature in contemporary urban life.
Here are a few of my recordings of old and new music for guqin:
Flowing Waters – a traditional piece from the Shenqi Mipu (1425), recorded by Brad Seippel in Beijing, 2015.
The woods are miles to sleep to sleep – a fixed media composition for guqin and a field recording by composer Nat Evans of his sleeping on the Pacific Crest Trail, available on The Tortoise and His Raincoat, Quakebasket Records.
I also joined the Wooden Fish Ensemble for performances of Christian Wolff’s Burdocks and traditional Korean and Japanese songs available on this CD from Wooden Fish Recordings.
Guqin and electronics project with Amble Skuse exploring traditional Chinese and Scottish music with electronics and improvisation through meditation. We examined guqin tradition in relation to contemporary Chinese culture – studying at Rushishanfang, improvising with local musicians and microscope artists, and playing in public spaces from Beijing sidewalks to the Great Wall. Our project culminated in a residency at the Institute for Provocation with Grace Leslie featuring a series of public conversations, video installation, and a sharing of field recordings and performance pieces.
Below are a few improvisations responding to different social spaces.