Snake skin "long neck guitar"
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I had earlier uploaded a photo of a nose flute for this "Musical Instruments" challenge.
But then I went to The Esplanade tonight and, lo, my favourite Chinese instrumentalist Jessica Lu was once again performing. And she is looking more beautiful than ever. Seems the best time to catch her is during the HuaYi Festival of Chinese Music after the Chinese New Year.
Then it occurred to me... Hay! This is the Chinese year of the snake, so I should show you an instrument made from it. See the soundbox? It's made from genuine python skin!
This is not uncommon. The erhu or "Chinese violin" often has a snake skin sound box as well. I guess the Chinese like the hissing sound :)
I call this instrument the "long neck guitar". Its official Chinese name is sanxian, meaning "three strings".
And Jessica tells us that there is a (shorter) Japanese version of the same instrument, with the Tokyo version made from cat skin while the Osaka version also uses snake skin.
Jessica was part of an ensemble (with erhu, guitar and percussion) that played "fusion" music, combining East and West. Now this can often end up quite disastrous, sounding neither here nor there, not East not West. Especially dreadful were various versions I heard of Vivaldi's Four Seasons played on Chinese instruments. Bleah!
But I must say the group did well, choosing the right music - with appropriate arrangements - that preserved the spirit of the original music while presenting a different sound.
Particularly memorable tonight was their rendition of Besame Mucho, with a Chinese New Year song weaved in the middle of it. Bravo!
Also by Richard Seah
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