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A melodic journey: one note at a time

By Hu Bing | China Daily | Updated: 2024-04-03 07:43
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Hu Bing, a student at the Communication University of China, is playing the triangle. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Since I was three years old, music has been my faithful companion. Over the years, I've explored all kinds of musical activities — from playing the piano to trying out different percussion instruments, and from singing to dancing. I've also dipped my toes into various musical styles — from classical to pop, folk to jazz. Music has also led me to discover and appreciate different cultures.

In 2015, at the age of 12, I went to Lincoln School in the United States as an exchange student. I was fortunate enough to participate in the school's musical production of Beauty and the Beast. Immersed in the story and its melodies, I found myself exchanging ideas with my classmates about our understanding of musicals.

In these discussions, a local student told us how, in US musical theater, dance is all about expressing feelings rather than showing off skills. By way of contrast, a student from Europe shared that they would probably emphasize more the growth and transformation of characters throughout the story, and how they would portray these changes with nuanced acting. I then introduced some characteristics of Chinese musicals, including that we tend to focus in great detail on telling stories.

The result of these dialogues was that we all learned something from each other, and through collaborative effort, we presented a version of Beauty and the Beast that was rich in various cultures and artistic expressions.

During my time in the US, I also had the opportunity to learn and practice the Chinese piano piece Mai Za Huo (Selling Groceries) under the guidance of a Russian teacher. This piece is adapted from Cantonese music and tunes but portrayed by the piano, a Western instrument, which led to interesting exchanges between me and my Russian teacher.

During rehearsals, I introduced to her some basic characteristics of Cantonese music — cheerful, smooth, and elegant — while she taught me to focus on the inner emotions and rhythmic changes of the piece. Her performance was powerful yet graceful, embodying the traditional charm of Chinese indigenous music while at the same time incorporating her own understanding of the composition.

This cross-cultural experience allowed me to rediscover this work and to see that music can maintain its own characteristics while integrating exotic elements, eventually developing into timeless and innovative expressions.

In 2021, I decided to study music communication at the Communication University of China in Beijing, where I joined the Youth Symphony Orchestra. In 2023, as a member of the orchestra, I had the honor of participating in the recording of Youth Friendship Waltz for the 31st World University Summer Games held in Chengdu, Sichuan. In the orchestra, I played the triangle.

When I found out that I was selected to be part of the performance team, I was so excited because it was an opportunity to represent Chinese university students on a global stage through music.

Looking back on my life, music has always been there for me, giving me strength no matter what challenges I face. Looking ahead, I hope to keep exploring music and sharing its joy with others. With every note I play, I want to spread friendship and love, making the world a happier place.

Written by Hu Bing, 21, a student at the Communication University of China.

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