- Shen Yun
Violins have become big business in a farming village on the outskirts of Beijing, where residents have turned their hand to lutherie, churning out hundreds of thousands of stringed instruments every year.
More than 1,200 people are now employed in factories and workshops, carving the sound posts and bridges, varnishing the body, fitting and trimming the tuning pegs, surfacing the fingerboard, and adjusting the strings at Huadong Musical Instruments Corporation Limited, one of the instrument-makers based in Donggao village.
Unlike traditional lutherie, in which a master-craftsman builds a violin single-handedly, Huadong employs a factory production-line approach in which the violin will pass through more than 10 different pairs of hands during its 50-day build process.
[Chen Xiaona, Factory Worker]:
"I am doing the assembling and fitting. I fit together the pegs, strings, the bridge, the tailpiece, the saddle and the tail gut, as well as a sound post on the inside. Once I have finished assembling it, you can play the violin and make beautiful music. The bridge and the sound post are particularly important to the sound of the violin."
The finished pieces, all of which are hand-made, are sold for anything between 200 to 40,000 yuan (30 to 5,900 U.S. dollars) to more than 30 countries.
Su Jun, a violin teacher from China's central Hubei province who traveled to the village to inspect and possibly buy some of the company's high-end violins, said he was impressed by the quality.
[Su Jun, Violin Teacher]:
"Chinese violins, in terms of how they work and their appearance, are not inferior to Western violins. In fact, they might even surpass them. But in terms of the quality of the sound, there is still room for improvement when it comes to manufacturing."
More than half of the workforce consists of locals from the village, many of whom still work in the fields during sowing and harvesting season.
The workers earn around 1,000 to 2,000 yuan (150 to 300 U.S. dollars) a month.