Ode on Jiuan-Reng Yeh

I watch her start to play the zither and lament the bastardization of my identity. Her alabaster arms tense and I watch a sculpture move fluidly. I’m fascinated by the efficiency of this instrument, the way every part is utilized. The control of pitch varying in all ways, from resonant and warm to skeletal. I hear the way she bends pitches and time, and hear a lineage from the most primitive human cries in the beginning to these ancient instruments to the way our electronic music wails now, devoid of its own existential pain. I think how my veins course with the carbonation of coke, how my sides have been formed with hot dog rolls and hamburger buns. I want so badly for my hair to be darker, for my instrument to be one that ties me to a culture that is at least somewhat mine.
The big wave gesture is the one I love the most. It takes so much control to make sure each string plucked along the way within the larger gesture is plucked long enough to resonate and each one adds and adds, representing the accumulation of life, of our cultures, mine and hers together, representative of the accumulation all humanity wants to attain and regrettably is. I see the waves, the way they stack, like sonar in electronic music. I see how she strikes with cold precision and even violence each string in the right hand and warms and bends pitch and time with the soft flesh of her left hand. This is technology and humanity at its beginning. And seeing the striking of each, I think how beauty is made from the nail and how if you listen closely, it is inescapably a part of the music. Pain is how you get the thing to sound.

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