North American Guqin Association

The First Online Guqin Gathering Report

The first Internet-based guqin gathering was held by the North American Guqin Association on February 16th, 2002, 4:00pm to 6:00pm Pacific Standard Time (00:00 to 2:00 am GMT on February 17th, 2002).

Thirty-two people from USA, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Belgium, England, Korea, Canada and Japan signed up for the event. Due to technical problems, only ten people were able to log into the event and in the end only seven people were able to communicate. Five pieces were played during the gathering. Prof. Li Xiangting attended the gathering.

Qin aficionados are few and far between, and the Internet provides an excellent medium for bringing us closer together. This event has shown that it is indeed possible to meet qin enthusiasts anywhere in the world, play qin, and exchange information over the Internet. We would like to share our experience with everyone who is interested in our event, in guqin music and in experimental Internet music gatherings.

Of the various web conferencing software packages available, we decided to use Yahoo Messenger, because it is free and relatively straightforward to set up. The procedure we used was:

1. In order to join the qin gathering, each attendee needed to download Yahoo Messenger from http://messenger.yahoo.com/, set up their Yahoo identity (i.e. a screen name and password) and email their screen name to us.
2. We put this information onto our group list. Since this was an experiment for NAGA members, attendees not already on our mailing list had to join by filling out the online form at http://www.chineseculture.net/guqin/joinus.html.
3. We created a private chat room called Onlineguqingathering on the day of the event. The event host Wang Fei sent an invitation to everyone on the group list. People who were on the group list and logged into Yahoo Messenger were able to attend the event by joining the chat room.
4. Each attendee needed to plug a microphone into their computer's sound card in order to speak and play, but those who didn't have one could still type.
5. When people played the qin, they put their microphone under one of the sound holes of their instrument. We could then hear it clearly, including even subtle slides.
We introduced ourselves to each other by our real names (as opposed to our screen names), our location and our experience with the qin, talked a little, then started playing music.

Program:
*Wang Fei (California, USA): Guan Shan Yue
*Li Xiangting (California, USA): Oulu Wang Ji
*Julian Joseph (Wiltshire, England): Tian Lai
*Jim Binkley (Oregon, USA): Xiang Jiang Yuan
*Wang Fei (qin), Li Xiangting (xiao) (duet): Jiu Kuang

Limitations and suggestions:
1. Since Yahoo messenger is free software, voice communication sometimes dropped out during periods of high network traffic.
2. People whose ISP providers used a firewall were not able to successfully get into the event.
3. Attendees need to gain familiarity with the software before the event. We spent more than an hour trying to help people to get in, speak and listen.
4. We should write detailed instructions on how to use the software before the next event.


Acknowledgements:
We would like to thank everyone who has been interested in this event and given their support, especially the following (in alphabetical order of surname):

Professor Fred Lieberman
Dr. George Shen
MadameTsar Teh-yun (recognized as a pre-eminent qin master and at 96 years old the oldest surviving qin performer)
Professor Bell Yung
Members of the De Yin Qin Society of Hong Kong

We plan to hold more online qin gatherings in the future. If anyone is interested, please join our NAGA mailing list at http://www.chineseculture.net/guqin/joinus.html and email us your Yahoo screen name. We will invite you to the next event.


Julian Joseph
Wang Fei

North American Guqin Association


 


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