Did I ever tell you I studied Music…a long long time ago? I actually use to dream of becoming a famous ethnomusicologist, travelling the world getting to know indigenous cultures and writing about their music…because music is the universal language. During that time, I was also very much into traditional chinese music. I for one, I loved the complexity of tone in chinese music. My grandfather used to tell me a story of his first experience with western music when he had the opportunity to see a european orchestra perform in his school in china (this was a very very long time ago — before the cultural revolution). The musicians walked in row by row. When all the rows were filled, the 1st violinist nodded his head, striked a note on his violin, and one by one the other musicians tuned to meet his pitch. After the musicians had finished tuning their instruments, they were met with a heartfelt round of applause…my grandfather said, they had never heard western music and was so overcome with delight at the harmonious sounds of these strange instruments, that they couldn’t help but applaud. He told me this story several times as a child, and I have to smile because having grown up with western music and studying it, I find myself overcome with delight when I hear the melancholy bittersweet cries of an Erhu, taking me to dreams of a time when the chinese were immortal and could fly… This is dedicated to my grandfather and to over two thousand years of music history in China. May today’s china have the wisdom to set their artists free* and let the music play.
* free Ai Weiwei!!