Faculty Colloquium: From Clay to Music

Title: “From Clay to Music: Making and Playing a 7000-Year-Old Xun Musical Instrument”

Presenters: Juwen Zhang, Dept. of Japanese & Chinese / Heidi Preuss Grew, Art Department

Date/Time: Friday March 15, 2013, 3:00 PM

Location: Room 212, Art Building

Abstract:

The xun (塤; xūn) is a Chinese globular flute made of fired clay. It is one of the oldest Chinese instruments with a history of over 7,000 years. This presentation will discuss why the xun was essential to Chinese cosmology and cultural values, how it has become a core marker in the construction of Chinese national identity, and why the instrument has recently been revived in China and in the United States in Salem, Oregon. Guests to the lecture will see and hear the pieces Prof. Grew and Prof. Zhang made together that push the traditional xun form into artistic representations of the earth, the heavens, and animals. Willamette students will also participate in the musical presentation from these creations. “The xun replica Juwen Zhang first brought to the ceramics studio was a modest, egg shaped form,” Professor of Art Heidi Grew recalls, “but the audible projection from that humble object was simply remarkable. The entire atmosphere of the studio dramatically changed with its penetrating sound. Those gathered were silenced, transfixed, and transported to another place. We were in China.” Thus began the ongoing collaboration between two faculty members from the Art Department and Department of Japanese and Chinese. We look forward to sharing this work with the Willamette community.

As always, light refreshments will be provided. See you on Friday.

Bill Kelm and Stasinos Stavrianeas
Faculty Colloquium Coordinators