Review: Guzheng workshop, July 8

Gandharva Loka is one of those stores that I just fall in love with. It is located on Granville Island among a bunch of other handicraft-type stores. The setting is lovely. And Gandharva Loka does at least one interesting event every week it seems, whether it is African drumming, or ukuleles, or didgeridoos, or any of many other interesting musical experiences.

On July 8, I attended their Guzheng Workshop and Concert event. Selena Yu is a lovely teacher, and although she said at the end this was her first workshop, she did an excellent job explaining all about the guzheng. Kris accompanied Selena, and he gave a lot of interesting information as well.

There are 5 distinct guzheng playing styles from various regions of China. The differences were explained in detail, but I won’t detail those here. I noticed that one style combines a percussive effect with the melody, which is reminiscent of American blues guitar players (and something I noticed in concert with Raul Midon).

The song styles of different Chinese ethnicities differ as well. China has 56 ethnic groups (we tend to think of the most prevalent group, Han Chinese, the most often). One lovely song told a story, with women waiting anxiously for their husbands to return from night fishing, a very dangerous endeavor. One by one, the boats return, and they are jubilant. The fishing was very successful; the families will have food for a year. Everything quiets down again.

Selena Yu described the scales of the guzheng, although I missed some of those details too. I will just have to study more. She showed us an effect where she makes the guzheng sound like water. Heartstopping! She claims the guzheng is an easy instrument to learn, compared to the violin, for example.

Much as I would like to find an example of Selena’s playing, I could not. So here is a random YouTube video of some nice guzheng playing (this musician has the same surname, but no relation so far as I know):

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