Spring Festival vibes in the village: Music with the Miao in Guangxi
Updated 14:00, 02-Feb-2019
Matthew Watson
03:25

Amid the terraced fields of Rongshui, Guangxi, the Miao provide an unrivaled welcome ahead of the Spring Festival. 

The dazzling headdresses shimmered as they caught the light, and the traditional dress, songs, and dances added to the aura. It’s no wonder why people travel here for the natural beauty and the people.

People from the Miao ethnic group play lusheng to mark the dawn of the festival season in Rongshui, south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, January 23, 2019. /CGTN Photo

People from the Miao ethnic group play lusheng to mark the dawn of the festival season in Rongshui, south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, January 23, 2019. /CGTN Photo

The soundtrack to this scene was provided by the lusheng, a traditional folk instrument of the Miao that makes an appearance at festivals and other special events, including the Slope Ceremony, which celebrates the new year. 

Bamboo pipes, some stretching over 10 feet long, are attached to a hardwood blowing tube to create the instrument. The sound blares throughout the area. 

Wei Zilian (L) of the Miao ethnic group teaches CGTN's Matthew Watson how to play lusheng in Rongshui, south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, January 23, 2019. /CGTN Photo

Wei Zilian (L) of the Miao ethnic group teaches CGTN's Matthew Watson how to play lusheng in Rongshui, south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, January 23, 2019. /CGTN Photo

After watching a few performances, a horse fight and a pair of men scaling a ladder made of swords, I gave the lusheng a try – it's tougher than it looks.

Each one is handmade and carried with pride by the owner. Notes are changed by covering holes bored into the many bamboo pipes. 

Wei Zilian, who plays a small lusheng, gave a rundown of how each size of lusheng provides a different sound and has a different role in creating the musical medley. Each instrument serves a purpose, but his high-pitched lusheng acts as a conductor, leading the rest of the musicians in their hypnotizing song. 

People from the Miao ethnic group perform celebratory dancing in Rongshui, south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, January 23, 2019. /CGTN Photo

People from the Miao ethnic group perform celebratory dancing in Rongshui, south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, January 23, 2019. /CGTN Photo

With red ribbons knotted around the bamboo pipes and musicians swaying side to side, I quickly learned a few new dance steps to join in the pageantry. The dance circle looped endlessly around the towering bamboo pipes. 

The celebration continued with a large dinner, complete with flowing rice wine, drinking songs and plenty of local cuisines. 

There's no mistaking that Spring Festival is in the air in Rongshui. You can see it around the dinner table and hear it, quite literally, as the sound of the lusheng echoes throughout the countryside.