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The Story Behind the Music

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Meet Tian Detint – Janssen Park’s Newest Music Man

BY MELANIE BUCK –

The sound of music has been filling the air around Janssen Park as of late. Specifically, something that sounds like bagpipes. The Pulse was able to track down the source of the melody this week.

Tian Detint, of Qing Dao, China, is in Mena with wife Shu Fang Zhou visiting their daughter, Chanel Bratton. Bratton is from Mississippi but she has temporarily moved to Mena to be close to her husband who is on a 2-3 year job at Nidec.

While here, Tian couldn’t resist the beauty of Janssen Park and has begun to play there almost daily since arriving. His instrument of choice is the Jinghu. The sound reminds listeners of bagpipes; however, the two instruments look nothing alike.

Jinghu is a bowed instrument that dates back to 221 B.C. and is one of the premiere lead instruments in the Bejing Opera. The body consists of bamboo, steel or nylon strings, and snakeskin that forms a taut drum at the bottom. A bow is used to pass between the two strings to form a high pitch sound that is often used to double a singer’s voice.

Tian has been playing the Jinghu since he was 12-years old. He has performed within the Chinese Opera, playing and singing. “He was on the local television station for the Chinese Opera competition in 1991. He sang and he was the champion…he won,” said a very proud Bratton.

What once was just his hobby has turned into his profession. About three years ago, after being a driver in China for many years, Tian began to teach others how to play. He has about 15 young students in his studio and takes great pride in keeping such an ancient tradition alive. “He doesn’t want the next generation to not know the Chinese Opera. He wants to keep the tradition going,” stated Bratton.

There have been many park-goers stop and listen to Tian. Although he isn’t fluent English, he admits to enjoying playing to an audience. He sometimes calls his daughter so that she can translate for him.

Tian and his wife have certainly enjoyed visiting Mena and the peaceful atmosphere that surrounds the park and, in turn, Mena has enjoyed the cultural sounds that have resonated because of their visit.

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