Discover China: Cotton field drummer goes viral online

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URUMQI, July 20 (Xinhua) — Fifty-year-old cotton farmer Zhang Hongyuan is a drummer with a difference in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

As a cotton farmer, Zhang looks no different from other farmers in the region. But as a drummer, he might be the only one in the country that sets his stage on a cotton field stretching for several kilometers.

“I didn’t want to bother my neighbors when I started to practice playing the drums, so I moved my drum kit to the cotton field where I was almost all alone most of the time,” he said. His drum kit is also quite special. He found a discarded drum kit over Chinese New Year this year and refitted it by himself.

With his special stage and shabby instrument, Zhang became a Chinese internet celebrity. Videos of him playing the drums that he shoots have received more than 10 million views and he has also attracted 27,000 followers on a Chinese online social media platform.

“It is joyful to sit in an open cotton field and play the drums,” he said. “It is a kind of emotional release.”

“Some fans of mine wanted to give me a new drum kit after seeing my shabby instrument online, but I declined,” Zhang added. “I am more familiar with my own drums.” Due to an old foot injury, Zhang adapted the bass drum and other parts, making his drum kit uniquely suited to him.

“In the beginning, I took some online drum lessons, but they were too expensive for me,” Zhang said. “Later I began to learn how to play by myself.”

Now Zhang has developed his own performance style, and started to write songs about his love for his hometown. “Zhang’s performance is so passionate and different from other drummers that I have seen,” said a fan of his online.

Zhang had engaged in cotton farming in the 1990s with his elders. “It was very hard to plant cotton at that time. The heavy farming work made me swear to never deal with cotton again if I could,” he said.

However, he finally went back to his hometown to farm cotton after experiencing a lot of ups and downs in 2013. Before then he had run various businesses including in the catering and wholesale clothing industries, having earned 1 million yuan (about 140,000 U.S. dollars) a year and also having been heavily in debt.

“Fate plays tricks on people, but I can always find my own place in the cotton field,” he said. “Now cotton farming is much easier than before with technologies such as mechanized sowing and drip irrigation,” Zhang added. He has plenty of time to play the drums and shoot videos for his fans after finishing his farm work.

“If someone feeling down or bored is cheered up by my videos, I’ve achieved what I set out to do,” Zhang said. Enditem

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