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Sound of the past, note for the future

By Wang Ru| China Daily| Updated: May 24, 2023 L M S


Xiao musician Shen Yingbiao (right) plays the traditional Chinese musical instrument with another performer playing guqin at a concert in Shanghai last year.

Traditional bamboo flute attracts new admirers with its melodious tone, Wang Ru reports.

Often accompanying the guqin, a zither-like seven-stringed traditional musical instrument, the xiao, a traditional vertical bamboo flute with a relatively light sound, was often viewed as a foil. But with its long history and rich cultural connotations, the once-ignored instrument is now attracting more and more attention.

Shen Yingbiao is a xiao player. Although he had strong interests in musical instruments from childhood, and learned the harmonica, the erhu (two-stringed bowed instrument) and guitar when he was young, it is the xiao that has been an inseparable part of his life for decades.

Shen was infatuated with the instrument after he bought a tape of xiao music and listened to the soft, graceful and mellow sound in his hometown of Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, in 1988.

He threw himself into the world of the xiao. He spent almost a decade learning to play the instrument and polish his skills, another decade imparting them to others, and now the 53-year-old is still working to promote the instrument and its culture.

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