This album was recorded in an old Catholic church in Santa Barbara, California. The natural acoustic sounds of the Chinese guqin, performed by Gong Yi, were transparently clear.
The guqin, one of China’s oldest musical instruments, has been in existence for thousands of years, with the earliest references to it in Chinese writings dating back to nearly 3000 years ago. The guqin, which is a type of zither with seven strings, was traditionally known simply as the qin, meaning stringed instrument or simply instrument, but in the 20th century it came to be known as the guqin or “ancient qin” to distinguish it from the many other instruments with names that included the character qin.
The guqin has long been associated with China’s scholarly class. It was one of the classical “four arts of the scholar,” the others being Go or weiqi (a board game), calligraphy and painting. Members of the literary class as far back as the time of Confucius were expected to be able to play the qin, and a number of qin pieces are attributed to Confucius himself. The qin was also strongly associated with Daoist philosophy. The music of the qin was considered sacred and elegant; people of ancient times used it to express their emotions and their ideals. The qin was more than just a musical instrument; it was a symbol of Chinese culture and the ideal Chinese scholar.
Beginning in the Tang dynasty, a special type of notation for the guqin was developed. This notation indicates finger positions and stroking techniques with the right and left hands, rather than directly showing the notes. This notation, using unique combinations of radicals and abbreviated forms of characters, is called shorthand tablature. This shorthand tablature expresses a level of detail in playing techniques that modern Western musical notation is incapable of conveying. Over 150 handbooks of guqin tablature have been passed down to the present day, preserving a large number of musical pieces. Together they constitute one of China’s greatest cultural treasures.
The playing techniques, notation, history, rules and aesthetics of the guqin collectively form a complete system, called the study of the qin. This system is deep and broad, not only representing Chinese traditional music, but also reflecting Chinese philosophy, history and literature. No other instrument embodies traditional Chinese culture as thoroughly as the guqin.
Kavichandran Alexander, a Tamil from Ceylon with broad western education, has great interest in preserving genuine ethnic music and tries to overcome recording difficulties while keeping the original quality of the music intact by using double-tract recordings. A Meeting by the river, recorded by Kavichandran Alexander, won the Best World Music Album the 36th Annual Grammy Awards. In \"The Absolute Sound\" his products are described as \"the best we are pursuing.\" For the recordings of the “Solar Music series,” he chose an old church in Northern California for its acoustic richness. Always sticking to his beliefs, Kavi established a very popular record company of his own: Waterlily Acoustics. In order to capture and bring the magic of music to listeners, he insists on analog techniques and vacuum tubes electronics for music recording. The high standard he demands in producing and recording makes him a master in his field and has won him praise worldwide.