Vernissage zur Ausstellung “KLANGKÖRPER – Moving Instruments” mit musikalischen Beiträgen

Kreative Dialoge – Ferne Klänge neu hören bei der 25. CHIME-Konferenz in Heidelberg Barbarian Pipes and Strings Reconsidered—Negotiating Authenticity in the Musics of China – Transcultural Perspectives

mit DAI Xiaolian (Guqin), CHANG Chia-ling (Liuqin), CHEN Teng (Erhu), NACHIN (Morin Khuur)

Genau 25 Jahre nach der letzten Internationalen CHIME (Chinese Music Research Europe) – Konferenz in Heidelberg, Barbarian Pipes and Strings veranstaltete das Centrum für Asienwissenschaften und Transkulturelle Studien (CATS) gemeinsam mit dem Konfuzius Institut und der CHIME Foundation eine Konferenz, die Chinas musikalische Praktiken aus transkultureller Perspektive neu betrachtet. Wie gefährlich, fremdartig oder (un)authentisch bestimmte musikalische Stile oder Instrumente wohl sind, und wem sie “gehören”, sind durchaus relevante Fragen in einem Land, wo Melodien, Instrumente und Klänge von „anderswo“ seit jeher zum “typischen” Repertoire gehören. Kontroversen über Eigentums- und Urheberrechte an alten und neuen Volksliedern oder regionalen Opern und Klagen über Exotismus oder Selbstorientalismus spielen immer dann eine Rolle, wenn von unterschiedlicher Seite “Authentizität” beansprucht, angefochten oder neu verhandelt wird. 5 Konzerte, die „Chinas“ vielfältige musikalische Praktiken—von der Guqin über die Tabla, bis hin zur Morin Khuur, immer wieder neu reflektieren, begleiteten die Konferenz. Zu hören waren wandelbare Klangkörper—Instrumente und Melodien, die ihre Form und ihren Klang auf ihren musikalischen Reisen, u.a. entlang der Seidenstraße verändern; seltene, ephemere Klangtexturen als Spuren musikalischer Erinnerung im transkulturellen Dialog, und schließlich eine fulminante Intervention von WANG Ying zu Gustav Mahlers “Das Lied von der Erde” (1909), das als Ausnahmewerk in der Reihe der Sinfonien Gustav Mahlers, in der Tradition des musikalischen Exotismus steht. WANG stellt Mahlers Vertonung altchinesischer Lyrik in der Nachdichtung durch Hans Bethge eine Reihe von chinesischen Gegenwartsdichtern und ihre Erinnerungen an die Klänge chinesischen Protest-Rocks gegenüber und schließt so eine transkulturell gedachte „chinesische“ Reise um die Erde.

Begleitend zur 25. CHIME-Konferenz kann im Völkerkundemuseum vPST die Sonderausstellung „Klangkörper – Moving Instruments“ besucht werden. Die Ausstellung (Zeitraum: 03.10.2023 bis 18.02.2024) präsentiert nicht nur chinesische Instrumente der museumseigenen Sammlungen aus verschiedenen Epochen; sie ermöglicht den Besuchenden auch durch zahlreiche Klang- und Videobeispiele ein tiefes Eintauchen in die Welt der fernöstlichen Musik. Die Ausstellung bietet außerdem einen Einblick in einen ganz anderen Bereich der darstellenden Künste, den Opern- und Puppenbühnen, die eng mit den musikalischen Traditionen verknüpft sind.


The plurality of sounds that make up the music “of China” not only echo the long historical trajectory of its creation, they also reflect the multitude of cultural influences and inspirations that have left their (musical) traces over time. The musical instruments employed to create these soundscapes also point to continuous cultural exchanges along the historical Silk Roads. The clamorous gongs and cymbals used in Buddhist and Daoist rituals, the string instruments accompanying the lavishly decked out singers in Beijing Opera, or the lutes and other plucking instruments used in the local teahouses—many
of these instruments originated outside China, but have been an integral part of Chinese musical traditions for centuries. The exhibition presents “Chinese” instruments from the museum collections from different eras and enables visitors to immerse themselves deeply in the musical worlds of the Far East with the help of a myriad of sound and video examples. The exhibit also offers glimpses into the arts of local opera and puppet theater to be found in China. The Musical Vernissage will be accompanied by original sounds from these instruments, played by some of the musicians present at the CHIME Conference.

Flowing Streams 流水 Liushui for Guqin Trio (8’)
Three Six 三六 San Liu for Liuqin (4‘)
Dialogue 对话 Duihua for Amankhuur (5‘)
WANG, Huiran 王惠然 (1936-2023)Melodies from
Liuqin Opera 柳琴戲排子曲 for Liuqin (5‘)
Uran Tangnee for Morinkhuur and Voice
(inspired by the Heart Mantra of the
Bodhisattva Tara/Green Tara 绿度母心咒 ) (5‘)
Galloping War Horses 战马奔腾 Zhanma benteng for Erhu (4‘)

This musical vernissage will bring to life some of the instruments as moving resounding bodies—Klangkörper, moving, both in the sense of physical displacement and emotional affect. We begin with one of the oldest instruments in China, the 7-stringed literati zither Guqin 古琴 (literally “Old Instrument”). The instrument is said to have been created by the legendary emperors of prehistoric times. The first archaeologically documented specimens date back to the 3rd millennium BC. In the beginning it had 5 strings representing the 5 elements (metal, wood, water, fire, earth). With its curved upper part, it refers to
heaven, with the straight lower part to earth ( 上圓象天、下方法地 ): it thus represents the whole world in itself.

Flowing Streams 流 水 Liushui
Guqin trio is associated by an informed audience with the moving story of that humble woodcutter named Zhong Ziqi 钟 子 期 (ca. 413 – 354 BCE) who would listen to the accomplished Guqin player Yu Boya 俞 伯牙 (ca. 387 – 299 BCE) playing the Guqin. Doing so, Ziqi could thor- oughly understand Boya’s deep self. As he was playing “Flowing Streams” Ziqi heard the streams flowing, the inner music in the minds of both player and listener resonated. Such authentic encounters epitomize the notion of the zhiyin 知音(the person who—without words—understands the sounds one produces—and derived from there, one’s “best friend”). The piece performed here, emblematic for the Guqin repertoire, is an arrangement for three Guqins by Lü Huang 呂黃 from 2013. It is based on a monodic version from the
Tianwenge qinpu 天闻阁琴谱 (Qin Handbook of Hearing Heaven Pavilion,published in 1876 by Wei Zhongle 卫仲乐 (1909 –1997).

The Liuqin 柳 琴 (literally, Willow Instrument, as it was made of willow wood), on the other hand, is the youngest instrument in our set of performances: some two centuries old, it originated as a folk instrument in the Qing dynasty (1644-1911). It originally had only 2 strings. In the 20th century, a three- and finally a four-stringed version came into use. The instrument which is played with a plectrum, has its strings elevated by a bridge. The soundboard has two soundholes. Three Six is one of the so-called Eight Great Pieces 八大曲 Ba Da Qu from the Jiangnan sizhu 江南丝竹 repertoire. This instrumental music (sizhu 丝 竹 , literally means “silk and bamboo,” and refers to string and wind musical instruments, as strings had historically been made of silk while bamboo was the material from which Chinese flutes are made) from Jiangnan prominently employs the Liuqin.

One important figure in the redevelopment of the Liuqin is the Pipa virtuoso WANG Huiran 王惠 然 (1936-2023), also known as the “Father of the Liuqin 柳 琴 之 父 who modernized the Liuqin and who also incorporated some techniques from Pipa playing. This is evident in his composition Melodies from Liuqin Opera 柳琴戲排子曲 which should remind us of the fact that in the beginning, the Liuqin was used to accompany local operas in Jiangsu, Shandong and Anhui.

In our musical vernissage, we will also hear the Amankhuur (Mouth Harp, also known as Jew’s Harp) and the Morinkhuur (Horsehead Fiddle), two instruments which feature prominently in several countries along the Silk Road. The Amankhuur that we will hear in Dialogue is a small plucked instruments consisting of a flexible metal or bamboo tongue or reed attached to a frame. The frame is held against the performer’s parted teeth or lips, using the mouth as a resonator. Mouth harps like the Amankhuur are particularly dynamic, moving instruments. Currently found in many different parts of the world, they most likely originated in Siberia, specifically in or around the Altai Mounains. The earliest depiction of someone playing what looks like a Mouth harp is a Chinese drawing from the 3 rd century BCE, and curved bones discovered in the Shimao fortifications in Shaanxi, China, dating back to before 1800 BCE but archaeological finds of surviving examples in Europe have sometimes been claimed to be almost as old.

The Morinkhuur, on the other hand, are younger: they initially emerged in the Eurasian steppe and are probably the best-known musical instruments associated with Mongolian music and nomadic culture. Horsehead fiddles come in different shapes and sizes. The thick bow and the two sturdy strings, made up of 90 to 120 horsetail hairs pulled together into bundles, contribute a great deal to the unique tone of a typical horsehead fiddle, which can be loud and quite deep, often close in timbre to the human voice. A Morinkhuur can play harmonies, overtones and solid notes simultaneously, and its rich “vocal” qualities, unsurprisingly, make this an ideal instrument to accompany songs such as Uran Tangnee. The Morinkhuur produces moving sounds in every sense of the word: the music and playing techniques very often contain references to nature, and to the traditionally nomadic lives led by Mongolian herdsmen, as is clear e.g. from the frequent imitations of sounds of Mongolian horses running, deer chirping, camels wailing, or larks twittering. Some genres of horsehead fiddle music are used to accompany dancing, but they are also significantly used in healing rituals and ceremonial purposes.

In the course of history, these types of fiddles have spread to many other regions and cultures along the Silk Road, well into Xinjiang, and even to parts of Turkey. They are a form of Erhu 二胡 (also known as Huqin 胡 琴 , literally, a two-stringed— er 二 —barbarian—hu 胡 —instrument—qin 琴 ), a stringed instrument that reached the Chinese court during the Tang Dynasty (618-906) from Central Asia. Played with a horsehair bow, this “Chinese violin” has since developed into a central component of folk music and is still used by street musicians today. Galloping War Horses is an Erhu solo piece which alludes to the “barbarian origins” of the Erhu. Composed by Erhu performer Chen Yaoxing 陈 耀 星 (*1941) in the 1970s. In this musical composition, CHEN employs unique playing techniques to portray the valiant and unwavering spirit of the cavalry warriors on the grassland, charging forward fearlessly in battle.

Dai Xiaolian 戴曉蓮

Dai Xiaolian 戴曉蓮is Professor of guqin in the Department of Chinese Music at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. She notably studied the guqin under the tutelage of her great-uncle, the renowned master Zhang Ziqian 张子谦from the Guangling School, then absorbing the best from various schools of teaching. She has recorded and published multiple CDs and teaching DVDs, and edited and published the several textbooks, contributing significantly to both the popularization and professional training of guqin music. A few years ago, she has set up the Lingran 泠然Ensemble, which successfully staged the “Guqin Whispering Concert” Series both in China and overseas, receiving much acclaim.

Chen Teng 陈腾

Chen Teng 陈腾is a PhD music candidate at the University of Southampton. She was awarded a master’s degree in music at King’s College London. Teng is also a young contemporary erhu player, who graduated from Shanghai Conservatory in 2017. In 2019, she cooperated with London Symphony Orchestra in a series of concerts: East meets West, held at LSO St Luke’s, London. She was an External advisor of Erhu performance for the Performance as Research module at Goldsmith, University of London.

Nachin 那琴

Nachin 那琴 – A native Mongolian from Ordos, in Northwest China, Nachin graduated in horsehead fiddle performance from the National Minorities University of China in 2020, and took courses in ethnomusicology, She has studied various types of horsehead fiddles, and has been taking lessons with a number of traditional masters. She has given recitals of Morin Khuur music both in China and abroad, and has participated in music festivals and music programs on China Central Television (CCTV). Since 2020, she has taken lessons from Badma, a representative inheritor of China’s national intangible cultural heritage in the genre ‘Long-Tune’. Since 2015, she has carried out fieldwork on regional traditional music in Mongolia as well as in Inner Mongolia. 

CHANG Chia-Ling 張嘉玲

Chia-Ling Chang, born in Taipei in 1994, is a musicologist and a musician of Liuqin and Zhongruan. She completed her bachelor’s degree at the National Taiwan University of Arts, where she studied Liuqin with Tsui-Ping Cheng, and received her master’s degree from the Institute for Musicology at the University of Leipzig. In her career, she worked as a Zhongruan musician in the Taoyuan Chinese Orchestra and has been a member of the Taipei Liuqin Ensemble since 2009. Chang also has a great passion for music theory, composition and music arrangement. She has previously been taught by Chih-Hsuan Liu, Ju-Chi Chen, Wen-Ching Su in composition, Dr. Chu-Wei Liu in music aesthetics and analysis, and Dr. Wei-Han Lee in music history. Currently, she works as the spokesperson of general music director in the Theater of Freiburg. Furthermore, she is devoted herself to the PhD of Musicology at the University of Bonn and often invited as a soloist for different formal occasions.