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Video: Inside the Studio (and Instruments) of China’s Electronic Music Pioneer

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A while back ago we wrote about Tian Jinqin, the “originator of Chinese electronic music” who gained some prominence in the late ’70s and ’80s for developing a suite of original instruments, such as an electronic dulcimer:

Watch: 1980 Video of Tian Jinqin, “Originator of Chinese Electronic Music”

We were able to find some info on Tian in old forum posts, but ended our cursory report with the question: where are these instruments now and how can we jam them?

Luckily our friend Meng Qi found the answer. Meng met Tian the other day on a trip to Taiyuan, where the latter lives, arranged by Sandy Ding, a bandmate of Meng’s and a professor at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing’s premiere art academy. Meng is no slouch in the electronic instrument building department himself, and had this to say upon meeting Tian:

Today we visited Mr. Tian Jinqin, “originator of Chinese electronic music,” learning about the history, his ideas, thoughts and works about electronic musical instruments, the books he wrote/translated and the stenography he invented.

His passion for musical instruments and expressions is impressive. I resonate very much with him, technically, theoretically and emotionally.

It’s also shocking for me to realize how weak we individuals are in front of an era. And how happy we can be, when we dive deep into the little and boundless world of music expression.

Here are some photos from this meeting of the minds:

Earlier this month, members of the open source AlgorithmArt Lab community paid a visit to Mr. Tian, who is 82 this year, and came out of it with a half-hour video including an interview and some footage of the creator performing on his creations. The interview is in Chinese, but you can enjoy the dulcet tones of Tian Jinqin’s vintage, homemade electronic dulcimer regardless of the language barrier:

All images courtesy Meng Qi

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Watch: 1980 Video of Tian Jinqin, “Originator of Chinese Electronic Music”

Josh Feola
Josh Feola is a Shanghai-based writer and musician, and RADII's Culture Editor. His coverage of Chinese music and art has appeared in The Wire, Dazed, Artsy, LEAP, Tiny Mix Tapes, and more. He's been active in China's underground music scene since 2010 via his booking platform pangbianr.com, and is a former member of Beijing bands Chui Wan, SUBS, and Vagus Nerve.

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