Cool Reception in Beijing’s Art District

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Improv with Ambient Sound Gallery Sounds

More evocative acoustics from a gallery space in Dashanzi 798 Art District in Beijing…

Typical of the plethora of converted munitions factories cum art exhibit spaces in the north-east part of China’s capital city, the atmosphere and acoustics here were phenomenal!

After hanging out for a while, mesmerized by a video installation in the shadows behind a side partition wall, a video depicting a classical pianist performing on-stage as endless buckets of hot, liquid wax are poured over the soundboard, hammers and felts of his grand piano – the soundtrack for which you can hear in the background here – I decided to discreetly assemble my flute in a corner of the gallery and send aloft some flute sounds…hey, what the hec?

Now, you might question my decision to go ahead and play, uninvited no less, in a public space like this, but over the years I’ve developed a bit of a sixth sense with regards to, uh, red tape, so to speak. It turns out my instincts were spot on: my stealth recording had basically gone undetected, but as I was leaving, I politely asked staff if it were cool for me to play my flute a bit in their wonderful art space, an idea which was summarily shut down.

This cool reception was definitely not typical for the warm welcome that I otherwise received while playing flute while in China – everywhere from Ming Dynasty Temples on Wudang Mountain to airport waiting areas, the reaction was consistently one of cordial, friendly curiosity.

Even in Beijing’s Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, no problem…artist-types, what can I say!