Jinyu Qin Society
Jinyu Qin Society is a Guqin society found in Suzhou in 1936. Its founders included Zha Fuxi, Zhang Ziqian, Xu Yuanbai and other famous contemporary Guqin players, it had a journal Jinyu which only published once. Zha Fuxi and other twenty-eight established this society on March 1, 1936, held a yaji the same day. On December 27, they founded a branch in Shanghai; because there were more players in Shanghai, this branch started to become more important than its former headquarters. They published the journal Jinyu in October 1937, sent all the copies to other players in the country without any charge. Due to the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War, the journal was never published again. In the meantime, the society did a survey which suggested there were only 112 Guqin players in the whole country at the time, as most of these players were born to noble families; because the Japanese Army occupied Shanghai, the founders fled to different places in order to escape the violence, after which they were hardly able to reorganise it again.
It was closed down after the outbreak of the Cultural Revolution, but was reestablished in 1980 when Zhang Ziqian became the first president
The Shu School of Qin Music refers to the modern guqin regional performance style tradition and lineage begun in the mid-19th century by its founder, Zhang Kongshan. The "Shu" name derives from the main base of operations at the time, namely the Sichuan region of China. Today, the Shu School has many branches and lineages, most of which trace their foundation to Zhang Kongshan, though the term is applied to Sichuan-based players in general; the Sichuan qin players, as early as the Tang Dynasty, was perceived as having qin play characterised by rushing, tumbling energy. The modern form of the school was founded by Zhang Kongshan in the mid-19th century; as the Sichuan style fanned out into other areas of China, it became known as "Fanchuan", whose connotation is something like "Chuan – Everywhere". There is a debate as to whether the "Shu" appellation is an accurate designation for the school/style in question; some people prefer "Chuan" as this distinguishes it from the old historical "Shu School", unrelated to the modern guise.
"Fanchuan" gained credence after being coined by Zha Fuxi and is applied to any Shu style player not residing in Sichuan but has been applied indiscriminately to players with little association or connection with Sichuan or the modern Shu School in general. Presently, the only players to use the "Shu" appellation are from the main branches of the Zhang Kongshan lineage the Ye branch, e.g. Zeng Chengwei. "Chuan" is used by players not of the main Zhang Kongshan lineage but residing in the Sichuan area or have connections with it. The Shu style is described in literature as "restlessly fast and unrestrained, with magnificence of momentum"; this is due to the nature of the environment which Sichuan is, with high mountains, deep valleys and fast flowing rivers, which are the main influences for the players and composers of the music. The magnum opus and foundation document of the modern Shu School is the Tianwen Ge Qinpu, published in 1876 under the auspices of Zhang Kongshan and his associate, Tang Yiming, his student, Ye Jiefu.
The Tianwen Ge is not only the largest collection of qin melodies published in a single publication in existence but it contains many other useful data related to qin lore and construction. Most of the melodies came from many sources; some were compositions whilst around nine melodies were edited and rearranged by Zhang during his years in Sichuan. Out of these nine, the most influential melody was that of "Liu Shui" or "Flowing Water". There are two branches: one branch through Ye Jiafu whose lineage is embodied by Zeng Chengwei, the other is through Gu Yucheng whose lineage was embodied by Gu Meigeng. Other than those two main branches, there are others such as the "Ba Lineage", not a direct line from Zhang Kongshan. Below is a construction of the branches from the transmission of Zhang Kongshan. Due to limitations of space and lack of information, not all transmitters are included. Zhang, Guqin. 章華英《古琴》 Wu, Clear Sounds of the Peerless. 吳釗《絕世清音》 Yang, Xiao, et al, Oral Histories of Qin People within the Shu Region.
楊曉《蜀中琴人口述史》 Tang, Liuzhong, et al, Magnificence of the Guqin. 唐六中《古琴清英》 Zeng, Chengwei, et al, Qin Journal of Mount Shu. 曾成偉《蜀山琴滙》 Li, The Time-and-Space Penetrating Guqin Art - Research into the Historical and Modern Shu School. 李松蘭《穿越時空的古琴藝術•蜀派歷史與現壯研究》
The strings of the guqin Chinese zither are either made of silk, nylon or metal-nylon. Until modern era, the guqin's strings were always made of various thicknesses of twisted silk 『絲/丝』, but since most players use modern nylon-flatwound steel strings 『鋼絲/钢丝』; this was due to the scarcity of high quality silk strings and due to the newer strings' greater durability and louder tone. Silk strings are made by gathering a prescribed number of strands of silk thread twisting them together; the twisted cord of strings is wrapped around a frame and immersed in a vat of liquid composed of a special mixture of natural glue that binds the strands together. The strings is left to dry, before being cut into the appropriate length; the top thicker strings are further wrapped in a thin silk thread, coiled around the core to make it smoother. According to ancient manuals, there are three distinctive gauges of thickness that one can make the strings; the first is taigu 〖太古〗, the standard gauge, the zhongqing 〖中清〗 is thinner, whilst the jiazhong 〖加重〗 is thicker.
According to the Yugu Zhai Qinpu, zhongqing is the best. However, these three gauges have practical relevance as thinner strings sound better on thicker instruments and vice versa, compensating for the thickness of the instrument and thus the potential tone and volume; the Taigu brand of silk strings indicate that the zhongqing gauge is suitable for longer qins, made of Chinese fir and/or have a thicker top board whilst the jiazhong gauge is suitable for shorter qins, made of paulownia and/or have a thinner top board. In China, production of good quality silk strings has resumed and more players are beginning to use them; the American qin player and scholar John Thompson advocates for the use of both silk and nylon-wrapped metal strings for different styles of qin music, much like the guitar exists in both classical and steel-string forms. Playing silk strings is different from playing metal-nylon one, as you need to pluck much more in order to avoid buzzing and the string slapping on the surface.
Thus, silk strings are more difficult to play. Metal-nylon strings were developed in China in the 1950s as a temporary measure to solve the shortage crisis of silk string production and supplies; this type of string replaced silk altogether as they are easier and quicker to produce as well as being far easier to play as the strings are smooth to slide on. The strings were too smooth and had to be lessened to regain some of the sliding string sounds that were felt to be distinctive of qin music; the strings were strong and could retain their tuning unlike silk and they were louder and more stable. A set could last many years and not break; the only drawback for traditionalists was that the strings had a harsh metallic sound, considered inelegant. Another factor was that the strings could wear the lacquer out requiring the qin surface to be repaired more often. Around 2007, a new set of strings were produced made of a nylon core coiled with nylon like the metal-nylon strings in imitation of Western catgut strings.
The sound is similar without the metallic tone to them. The nylon strings are able to be turned to standard pitch without breaking and can sustain their tuning whatever the climate unlike silk; the nylon-composite strings have various names such as fuhexian. One of the main advertising points of these strings is that they are said to sound close to the silk strings made prior to the 1950s when silk string production ceased for a while, they have the backing of Li Xiangting. In 2016, the Japanese string maker, Marusan Hashimoto, produced what they call hybrid strings for qin, they are made like traditional silk strings but with a Tetron twisted core and for the four thicker strings having a nylon wrapping. Their main selling point is that they can be tuned to standard pitch without breaking and are more stable. Other than that, they are similar to silk strings in the sound being the closest compared to the other synthetic strings. Although most contemporary players use nylon-wrapped metal strings, some argue that nylon-wrapped metal strings cannot replace silk strings for their refinement of tone.
Further, it is the case. Many traditionalists feel that the sound of the fingers of the left hand sliding on the strings to be a distinctive feature of qin music; the modern nylon-wrapped metal strings were smooth in the past, but are now modified in order to capture these sliding sounds. Although silk strings tend to break more than metal nylon ones, they are stronger than one may be led to think. Silk is flexible, can be strung to high tensions and tuned up to the standard pitch, proposed by mainland China without breaking. Although they may be more to break at higher tension, they are hardly discardable once a string has broken. Silk strings tend to be long and break at the point where it rubs on the bridge. One ties another butterfly knot at the broken end, cut the frayed bit re-string. In this way, the string can be re-used up to ten times for the thinner strings, every set includes an extra seventh (most likely
Guqin playing technique
The playing techniques of the guqin, sometimes called fingerings, are more numerous than those of any other Chinese or Western musical instrument. They are complex and full of symbolism; the music of the qin can be categorised as three distinctively different "sounds." The first is san yin 〔散音〕, which means "scattered sounds." This is produced by plucking the required string to sound an open note Listen. The second is fan yin 〔泛音〕, or "floating sounds." These are harmonics, in which the player touches the string with one or more fingers of the left hand at a position indicated by the hui dots and lift, creating a crisp and clear sound Listen. The third is an yin 〔按音 / 案音 / 實音 / 走音〕, or "stopped sounds." This forms the bulk of most qin pieces and requires the player to press on a string with a finger or thumb of the left hand until it connects with the surface board pluck. Afterwards, the musician's hand slides up and down, thereby modifying the pitch; this technique resembles that of playing a slide guitar across the player's lap, but the technique of the qin is varied and utilises the whole hand, whilst a slide guitar only has around 3 or 4 main techniques Listen to Pei Lan.
According to the book Cunjian Guqin Zhifa Puzi Jilan, there are around 1,070 different finger techniques used for the qin, with or without names. It therefore uses the most finger techniques of any instrument in Chinese, or Western, music. Most are obsolete; when plucking the strings, fake nails are not required to be attached to the fingers. One will leave their fingernails long, cut them into an elliptical shape; the length is subjective and will depend on the player's preference, but it is around 3 - 4 mm from the finger tip. If it is too short the finger tip will deaden the sound as it touches the string after the nail has plucked it. If it is too long the fingers can be cumbersome and can impede performance; the nails of the right hand are kept long, whilst the nails of the left are cut short, so as to be able to press on the strings without hindrance. For people who have brittle fingernails, the Yugu Zhai Qinpu has some methods of strengthening them. Unlike other plucked instruments, like guzheng and pipa and fake-nails should be avoided.
For the guzheng and pipa where one must attack the strings with force, susceptible to fingernail breakage, the qin requires gentle force to play. Furthermore, fake-nails tend to create an unsatisfactory tone. Additionally, because one can feel the qin strings better, it is best to pluck with natural fingernails; the above four figures are from an old handbook. There are eight basic right hand finger techniques: pi 〈劈〉, tuo 〈托〉, mo 〈抹〉, tiao 〈挑〉, gou 〈勾〉, ti 〈剔〉, da 〈打〉, zhai 〈摘〉. Out of these basic eight, their combinations create many. Cuo 〈撮〉 is to pluck two strings at the same time, lun 〈輪/轮〉 is to pluck a string with the ring and index finger out in quick succession, the suo 〈鎖/锁〉 technique involves plucking a string several times in a fixed rhythm, bo 〈撥/拔〉 cups the fingers and attacks two strings at the same time, gun fu 〈滚拂〉 is to create glissandi by running up and down the strings continuously with the index and middle fingers; these are just a few. Left hand techniques start from the simple pressing down on the string, sliding up or down to the next note, to vibrati by swaying the hand, plucking the string with the thumb whilst the ring finger stops the string at the lower position, hammering on a string using the thumb, to more difficult techniques such as pressing on several strings at the same time.
Techniques executed by both hands in tandem are more difficult to achieve, like qia cuo san sheng 〈掐撮三聲/掐撮三声〉, to more stylised forms, like pressing of all seven strings with the left strumming all the strings with the right the left hand moves up the qin, creating a rolling sound like a bucket of water being thrown in a deep pool of water. In order to master the qin, there are in excess of 50 different techniques; the most used are difficult to get right without proper instruction from a teacher. Certain techniques vary from teacher to teacher and school to school. There are a lot of obsolete fingerings and notation that are used in modern tablature. There are now new books that have begun to be published about these fingerings and notation as qin culture and study gains momentum. ^ Guo, Ping. Guqin Congtan 【古琴丛谈】. Page 112. ^ Zhang, He. Qinxue Rumen 【琴學入門】. Volume 1, leaves 39, 40, 43 and 47. ^ Wu, Jinglüe and Wenguang. Yushan Wushi Qinpu 【虞山吴氏琴谱】 The Qin Music Repertoire of the Wu Family. Pages 507-526.
^ Wang, Binglu. Mei'an Qinpu 【楳盦珡諩】. Volume 1 leaves 18-24. ^ Yao and Huang, Shuzhi. Tangdai Chen Zhuo Lun Guqin Zhifa: Yao Bingyan Qinxue Zhu Shu zhi Yi 【唐代陳拙論古琴指法‧姚丙炎琴學著述之一】. Gong, Yi. Guqin Yanzoufa 【古琴演奏法】. Shanghai: Shanghai Educational Press. ISBN 7-5320-6621-5 Zhang, Huaying. Gu Qin 【古琴】. Guizhou: Zhejiang People's Press. ISBN 7-213-02955-X Guo, Ping. Guqin Congtan 【古琴叢談】. Jinan: Shandong Book Press. ISBN 7-80713-209-4 Zhang, He. Qinxue Rumen 【琴學入門】. Beijing: Cathay Bookshop
The notation of the guqin is a unique form of tablature for the Chinese musical instrument, with a history of over 1,500 years, still in use today. Written qin music did not directly tell; some tablatures do indicate notes using the gongche system, or indicate rhythm using dots. The earliest example of the modern shorthand tablature survives from around the twelfth century CE. An earlier form of music notation from the Tang era survives in just one manuscript, dated to the seventh century CE, called Jieshi Diao Youlan 《碣石調幽蘭》, it is written in a longhand form called wenzi pu 〔文字譜〕, said to have been created by Yongmen Zhou during the Warring States period, which gives all the details using ordinary written Chinese characters. In the Tang dynasty Cao Rou and others simplified the notation, using only the important elements of the characters and combined them into one character notation; this meant that instead of having two lines of written text to describe a few notes, a single character could represent one note, or sometimes as many as nine.
This notation form was called jianzi pu 〔減字譜〕 and it was a great advancement for recording qin pieces. It was so successful that from the Ming dynasty onwards, a great many qinpu 〔琴譜〕 appeared, the most famous and useful being "Shenqi Mipu" compiled by Zhu Quan, the 17th son of the founder of the Ming dynasty. In the 1960s, Zha Fuxi discovered more than 130 qinpu that contain well over 3360 pieces of written music. Sadly, many qinpu compiled before the Ming dynasty are now lost, many pieces have remained unplayed for hundreds of years. Major changes in the tablature happened during the Qing period. Before, the recording of the note positions between hui were only approximations. For example, to play sol on the seventh string, the position the player must stop is between the 7th and 8th hui; the tablature of Ming times would only say "between 7 and 8" 「七八日」 or for other positions "below 6" 「六下」 or say "11" 「十一」. During the Qing, this was replaced by the decimal system; the space between two hui were split into 10'fen' 〔分〕, so the tablature can indicate the correct position of notes more so for the examples above, the correct positions are 7.6, 6.2 and 10.8 respectively.
Some went further to split one fen into a further 10'li' 〔釐/厘〕, but since the distance is too minute to affect the pitch to a large degree, it was considered impractical to use. Some people argue that the old system is just as accurate as the new system when qin tuning theory is observed; these old positions may conform to the rules of tempered music, with its pitches flatter, such as in the case of 8 for 7.9 and 11 for 10.8. Another main property for this old system is that it requires the player to "feel for the note", just as one would do for any other fretless stringed instrument, be it erhu or violin, instead of relying on fixed positions. Existing qinpu come from private collections or in public libraries throughout China, etc; those that are available for public purchase are facsimile qinpu printed and bound in the traditional Chinese bookbinding process. More modern qinpu tend to be bound in the normal Western way on modern paper; the format jianpu notation. A number of efforts have been made to further develop qin tablature.
A book by Wang Guangqi uses Roman and Arabic numerals to express the information provided by qin tablature. The qin player, Gong Yi, developed a format using staff notation combined with some tablature marks. Others have tried to write a computer program. Chen Changlin, a Beijing-based computer scientist and qin player of the Min School, developed the first computer program to encode qin notation from ancient tablature sources; the current practice for recording qin scores is to use jianzipu notation together with staff and/or cipher notation so the playing method is preserved and the rhythm, note value, etc is shown. Qinpu Please see: References section in the guqin article for a full list of references used in all qin related articles. ^ Zhu, Quan. Shenqi Mipu 【神竒秘譜】. ^ Zha, Fuxi. Cunjian Guqin Qupu Jilan 【存見古琴曲譜輯覽】. Pages 3–44. ^ Beijing Guqin Research Association. Beijing Qin-xun 【北京琴讯】. March 2001. Pages 1, 2 and 4. ^ Gong, Yi. Guqin Yanzhoufa 【古琴演奏法】. Pages 38–42. ^ Qin music notation web generator Project Title: Chinese music instrument:'Qin' notation web generator
Zha Fuxi known as Zha Yiping was a leading player and scholar of the guqin. Born in Jiangxi, he started learning guqin in his childhood. In 1936, he co-founded the Jinyu Qin Society which became one of the major national musical organizations for the guqin. Apart from his profession on guqin, he worked for the civil aviation company and was active in the labour movement. After the People's Republic of China was established in 1949, he was a vice-chairman of the National Musical Association, president of the Beijing Guqin Society, a department head at the Central Institute of Music. Few recordings of his qin performance have been published, though more remain in private and institutional circulation, his playing style was serious and elegant. Please see: References section in the guqin article for a full list of references used in all qin related articles. Zha Fuxi's report of classical guqin pieces recorded across China in 1956. Recordings of Zha Fuxi from the Library of Congress made in 1945
Ruan Ji was a poet and musician who lived in the late Eastern Han Dynasty and Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history. He was one of the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove; the guqin melody, Jiukuang is believed to have been composed by him. Ruan Ji's father was Ruan Yu, one of the famed Seven Scholars of Jian'an who were promoted by the Cao clan in the Jian'an poetry era; the Ruan family were loyal to the Cao Wei, as opposed to the Sima family. It is fair to say that Ruan Ji was born into his time period being the Period of Disunity. Ruan Ji was poetically part of both the poetry of the Jian'an period and the beginning of the Six Dynasties poetry developments, he would embrace the poetic side of what the times offered him, managed to avoid many political dangers and snares of his time. The safety of Ruan Ji during his life seems to have been underwritten by his willingness to be labeled a drunk and an eccentric. Born just before the end of the Han Dynasty, the Ruan family fortune rose with the rise of Cao Cao and the rest of the Cao family.
However, while Ji was still quite young, the fortune of the Ruan family became imperiled with the rise of the Sima family: the Sima had served as officials under the Cao. Furthermore, during the time of Ruan Ji, there was ongoing peril from the ongoing military struggles with the kingdom of Shu Han, together with other impending military and political changes; the life and creative work of Ruan Ji took place within a crucial and dramatic period in China history, associated with large changes in various spheres of life. The Han dynasty had seen a period of virtuous rule in which the norm of ritual piety, philanthropic principles of legendary ancient rulers, aspiration to nurture officials – calm, serving for consciousness, not of fear – became governmental norm; however this was followed by the so-called Period of Disunity. Ruan Ji witnessed bloody wars, struggles for power in the court of Wei, the Sima family's rise. Despite the dim times, this was a period of great achievements in spiritual culture.
Bright peculiarity of that time was intellectual life: interests in metaphysics, which were discussed in the "pure talks" of open academic forums, profound interest in the problem of the highest purpose, the great popularity of Daoism and the spreading of foreign learning, such as Buddhism, a rapid expansion of lyrical poetry, a flourishing of all fine arts from painting to architecture. The invention of cheap paper in the 2nd century spread literacy among a large population, which brought a sense of chivalry to a large amount of educated people, with notions of good, truth and virtue. Heroes of the day became irreproachable virtuous men, who relinquished politics and preferred a quiet life in the countryside or the life of a hermit to the glamour and fame of court life; these so-called sublime men brought into being ideas of protest against an iniquitous reign, hidden by exterior unconcern, greatness in undemanding and pureness. The life of court officials was considered "the life of dust and dirt", while the real dirt of peasant labour was a symbol of purity.
As is traditionally depicted, a certain group of seven scholar/musician/poets wishing to escape the intrigues and stifling atmosphere of court life during the politically fraught Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history habitually gathered in the obscurity of a bamboo grove near the house of Xi Kang in Shanyang. Here they enjoyed practicing their works, enjoying the simple, rustic life, always with much Chinese alcoholic beverage. Livia Kohn describes Ruan Ji's artistic expression, His friends and fellow poets induced ecstatic experiences through music and drugs the notorious Cold Food Powder which created psychedelic states and made the body feel hot, causing people to take off their clothes and jump into pools; when back in their ordinary selves, they wrote poetry of freedom and escape, applying the Zhuangzi concept of free and easy wandering in the sense of getting away from it all and continuing the text's tradition in their desperate search for a better world within. This was contrasted with the theoretically and Confucian certified honorable and joyful duty of serving ones country.
Rather than attempt to stay loyal to Wei through the rise of Jin by their active, personal involvement, the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove instead stressed the enjoyment of ale, personal freedom, spontaneity and a celebration of nature—together with political avoidance. Ruan Ji is mentioned first among the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove; the other sages were Xi Kang Shan Tao, Liu Ling, Ruan Xian, Xiang Xiu, Wang Rong. They created an image of wise men enjoying life rather uninhibitedly, realizing the old dream of a Daoist concord of free men who are gifted with hidden wisdom “to be together, not being together” and “act jointly, not acting jointly”; the wine goblet, which became a symbol of being a