The Chinese guqin is a “philosopher’s instrument,” meaning that it is intended as a tool for the player’s meditation rather than for a listening audience. Aside from being difficult to master, the instrument itself has a deceptively complex construction based on Confucian principles.

According to tradition, the qin originally had five strings, representing the five elements of metal, wood, water, fire and earth. Later, in the Zhou dynasty, Zhou Wen Wang added a sixth string to mourn his son, Bo Yihou. His successor, Zhou Wu Wang, added a seventh string to motivate his troops into battle with the Shang. The thirteen hui on the surface represent the 13 months of the year (the extra 13th is the ‘leap month’ in the lunar calendar). The surface board is round to represent Heaven and the bottom board flat to represent earth. The entire length of the qin (in Chinese measurements) is 3 chi, 6 cun and 5 fen; representing the 365 days of the year (though this is just a standard since qins can be shorter or longer depending on the period’s measurement standard or the maker’s preference). Each part of the qin has meaning, some more obvious, like “dragon pool” and “phoenix pond”. -Wikipedia

This is not the best quality video, but it shows the instrument with its natural sound in a realistic setting. The guqin is not a concert instrument and the sound is not very loud. Most performance videos show more virtuosic playing with an amplified sound.

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