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In tune with the past

By Xin Wen | China Daily | Updated: 2022-02-17 11:43
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Hu Qingxue leads a band of musicians to perform jing music at Beijing's Zhihua Temple. The traditional art form is inscribed on the list of national intangible cultural heritage. [Photo by Yang Zhiguo/For China Daily]

The resounding, solemn music is passed down via verbal guidance and usually played with wind and percussion instruments. All musicians who know about the traditional temple music first learn to sing the notation called gongche pu, under a traditional Chinese notation system, before playing it with instruments.

Hu, who mainly plays wind instruments in the band, was born into a farming family in the village of Qujiaying in Hebei province. The village, about 100 kilometers from downtown Beijing, has preserved the centuries-old tradition since the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) despite several periods of interruption.

In October 1991, as part of the Qujiaying village concert band, Hu performed at the Beijing Working People's Cultural Palace and encountered his future master, a monk from the Zhihua Temple.

"I remember that the monk musicians, who were in their 50s, from the temple, felt satisfied with our performance and that's why they decided to take us as their apprentices," says Hu.

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