Tiananmen Square’s Acoustic Haven

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Debussy, Syrinx

Our first night in Beijing, we of course headed straight across town to check out Tian’an Men Square. Turns out the gates were locked tight, but we had a great adventure and caught a vivid glimpse of present-day China.

Just as we were nearing our destination, I spotted the entrance to this largely deserted underground passageway, and we actually ended up hanging out for quite a while, making music and meeting some young students who happened to wander through. The vibe was relaxed and informal – even some workers and the guards on night duty took a smoke break and let us do our thing, as enraptured as we were with the heavenly acoustics!

Hanging out on a bench at the far end of the tunnel, some vagrant teens were partying away happily for the duration, their voices adding an unruly backdrop to this otherwise pastoral recording of Debussy’s Syrinx.

Finally we carried on, heading back above-ground to brave the crowds streaming along the darkened streets towards Tian’an Men Square and the gates of The Forbidden City, a veritable river of humanity in the night!

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