The guqin, also just called the qin and sometimes “the scholar’s lute” in English, is perhaps the most Chinese of all instruments. As qin performer and scholar John Thompson puts it:
The guqin throughout its long history has been the musical instrument most prized by China’s literati. They categorized it as one of their “four arts”, collected it as an art object, praised its beautiful music, and built around it a complex ideology… No other instrument was described and illustrated in such detail, so often depicted in paintings, or so regularly mentioned in poetry. And its tablature documents the world’s oldest detailed written instrumental music tradition, allowing both historically informed performance (requiring silk strings) of over 650 early melodies, and practical exploration of the relationship between Chinese music theory and music practice.
Below is a video of guqin master Lu Peiyuan performing “Flowing Waters” (流水), one of the most popular traditional pieces for the qin.
More about the guqin
John Thompson’s website: Silk Qin is the best resource on the Internet for everything about the guqin
Baidupedia (in Chinese): Tuning the qin and sipping tea (image source)
Danwei: The guqin and earth’s greatest hits, Chinese instruments and the creation of a national music
Vimeo: Guqin player Wu Na in experimental collaboration with Zhang Jian, Xiao he and Yan Jun
Judy (Pei-You) Chang’s website: Peiyouqin.com