Sunday, September 20, 2009

Laughing Kookaburra

I recently made one of my rare trips to Newcastle.

There's nothing wrong with the place. It's just there's nothing in the city that really interests me that much.

However, mother and father were there. So it was time to be the good son and visit.

Since I had last visited, dear mother had apparently decided to befriend some of the local wildlife.
So much so in fact that these kookaburras were now happy to be fed by hand.
There's something comical about kookaburras. They almost always seem to have a sneaky expression. This added to their intelligence makes them always appear to be up to something...

Saturday, September 05, 2009

An antique sound

Recently I was lucky enough to be invited to a private performance of the guqin.

The guqin is an ancient Chinese stringed instrument. It has a history that spans thousands of years and has been in its current standardised form for over 2000 years. It is an instrument that requires immense dedication and is famous for its role as a solo instrument. This instrument is heavily linked with poetry in Chinese culture and its music has been favoured for its role in personal development and thought.

My old Chinese teacher Judy's husband Jia Wei is a professional guqin player in China. He has performed to audiences around the world and was in Sydney for a short time to see his wife and perform.
Amazingly, I was given this opportunity to hear him play in this private performance.

The guqin was beautiful. An antique no less. Jia Wei gave us a brief explanation of the history of his guqin. This priceless antique was made in the Ming Dynasty. It only survived to this day due to being fortunate enough to have been kept with a mathematician in a safe compound during the Cultural Revolution.
The sound of the guqin is something that cannot be described. It is almost like a person's voice, but there's a sadness to the sound that seems to reflect the tortured years of Chinese history this instrument must have witnessed.