Zhong Ziqi was the one who best understood music by Bo Ya, a qin player from the Spring and Autumn period. When Bo Ya played music thinking about climbing a high mountain, Zhong Ziqi said, “Wonderful! It sounds like a towering mountain,” and when the musician played imagining flowing water, Zhong Ziqi said, “It’s like an energetic river.” They understood each other. This is from which the word “Ji-eum” was originated. The original meaning of the Chinese word is a ‘person who understands music well,’ but it later took meaning of an intimate friend who understands a person the best.
Chinese poet Li Bai who introduced himself as a Ji-eum praised the performance of a Buddhist monk who came from Mount Emei, Li Bai’s hometown. It is extraordinary to call the monk’s instrument “Luqi.” As Luqi was an exquisite instrument used by the Han Dynasty’s great writer Sima Xiangru, it indicated that the monk’s performance was exceptional. His performance was majestic and clean at the same time, like the “sound of the breeze in pine trees in a valley.” Therefore, the poet who was feeling nostalgic had a clear mind as if washed by clean water and the calm feeling lingers like the subtle sound of a bell from a mountain temple. When he woke up from deep immersion in music with a surrounding atmosphere, the day was dark and the sky was covered by grey clouds. A traveler’s sweet yet lonely day was passing into the disappearing music.