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The bamboo way

By Chen Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2018-03-24 11:22
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More than 100 bamboo musical instruments are on display in an exhibition curated by Wang Wei in Beijing.[Photo by Wang Jing/China Daily]

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In 1991, Beijing-based musician Wang Wei went on a tour with China Oriental Performing Arts Group as bassist. During the tour, he became fascinated by the shakuhachi, a kind of Japanese bamboo flute. Later, he found out that the shakuhachi, which was called chi ba in Chinese, was introduced to Japan during the Tang Dynasty (618-907).

Astonished and ashamed of how he was ignorant of the country's rich musical tradition as a professional musician, Wang started learning and researching about Chinese musical instrument made of bamboo.

He has found that among the 90 wind instruments identified by the Chinese Music Dictionary, 47 are made of bamboo. The earliest bamboo instruments so far found in China were some flutes discovered in 1978 alongside bronze chimes from a tomb of the Warring States Period (475-221 BC) in Suixian county of Central China's Hubei province.

During the past three decades, the versatile musician traveled around the country to find the finest materials for making bamboo instruments. The small balcony at his home in Beijing has become his studio for making the instruments.

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