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Reconstructions

 

In addition to composing new pieces for the qin, I have attempted to reconstruct music from old qin scores since 2000. Reconstructed pieces are mainly those using special musical scales or having special intonation characteristics, hoping to learn more about the style and expressiveness of qin music in the distant past. Some of the reconstructions were performed in Hong Kong and Mainland, and some were published in CDs. To share my work with others, I have put some of the scores onto this website. Qin lovers are welcome to download the scores for their own practice. These are not for sale nor for publication without my permission.

Because my book Exploring the Secluded has included some of my reconstructions in cipher and tablature notations, this website would only include reconstructions not yet included in my book, as well as recordings of some reconstructions available at the internet.

Lanke xing (A Mystic Journey)

Huiyan mizhi ding 《徽言秘旨訂》(1692)

 

     This piece, based on a tale about a mystic journey to the mountains, was composed by a renowned guqin player Yin Ertao just before the downfall of the Ming Dynasty. (For more details about the tale and the title of the piece, please see the Chinese page of this introduction.)

     The piece is classified as zhi mode in the handbook. A heptatonic scale is used in the piece with the 4th string as 5 (sol) note until the last section, where the scale is changed to 5, 6, b7/↓7/ 7, 1, 2, 4/#4, which is a kuyin scale. The way of change is similar to the change from the standard mode to yifan mode in Cantonese music in recent times, indicating that such kind of change has a long history. The traditional pieces handed down by Yin Ertao in his handbook also include kuyin pieces. Together with kuyin pieces in other major handbooks in the late Ming and early Qing Dynasties, they indicate that the kuyin scale had been popular around that period.

​Download the Score

Guiyuan cao (A Lady's Sorrow)

Boya xinfa 《伯牙心法》(1609)

 

     A famous poem of the Song Dynasty lady poet, Li Qingzhao, is used as the lyrics in this qin song. This is not related to the commonly known version from the Japanese guqin handbook Toko kinpu, but was composed by a friend of the compiler of the handbook Boya xinfa. The piece is classified as zhi mode in the handbook. With the 4th string as 2 (re) note, the scale used is 6, 7, 1/#1, 2, 3, 5/#5, a form of kuyin which was used in pieces like Hangong qiu of Songxianguan qinpu. Please see my 2021 paper (in Chinese) on kuyin.

     The reconstruction is based on the following versions of the handbook: in Qinqu jicheng, in Qinpu hebi (published by Zhongguo shudian), and a Ming dynasty copy kept by Jao Tsung-I Petite Ecole of The University of Hong Kong. The generosity of the latter in supplying the score is appreciated!

​Download the Score

Guiyuan caoPlayed by Tse Chun-Yan
00:00 / 02:43

Chunjiang (River in Spring)

 Xingzhuang taiyin buyi 《杏莊太音補遺》(1537)

  This qin handbook belongs to the "Orthodox School of Xu". It was an important qin handbook of the Ming Dynasty, being one of the reference books listed in the preface of the Ming scholar Zhu Zaiyu's Lulu Jingyi (1596). Chunjiang is a shang mode piece, but unlike earlier shang mode pieces, the characteristic b3 note is not used anymore. It has an elegant and flowing melody, depicting "thoughts about old friends when seeing the river flowing in spring".

​Download the Score

ChunjiangPlayed by Tse Chun-Yan
00:00 / 06:11

Huaigu yin (Thinking of the Past)

Xilutang qintong 《西麓堂琴統》(1525)

  This is the earliest extant version of Huaigu played by the Lingnan School in recent times. This short piece has a nice melody, and expresses a peaceful and modest mood. 

​Download the Score

Huaigu yinPlayed by Tse Chun-Yan
00:00 / 02:45

Chang Qing (Long Clarity)

Xilutang qintong 《西麓堂琴統》(1525)

  This is one of the "four pieces of Ji Kang", a famous scholar and qin master of the 3rd century. Qin players of the past generation who played this piece include Zhang Ziqian, who reconstructed the Shenqi mipu and Xilutang versions, and Guan Pinghu, who reconstructed the Fengxuan xuanpin version. My reconstruction makes reference to the most enjoyable and clear rhythm design of Guan Pinghu, while retaining all the original notes of the score.

​Download the Score

Lisao (Sorrow on Departure) (Abridged version)

Dahuange qinpu 《大還閣琴譜》 (1673)

  This piece is classified under qiliang tuning, with tightened 2nd and 5th strings. With the 1st string as C, the usually played Shenqi mipu version is in C shang mode. In this Dahuange qinpu version, the first 15 sections utilize G、bB/↓B/B、C、D、F/↑F/#F, constituting a kuyin scale. At the last few sections, there is modulation to another kuyin scale, with C, E, F, G, B as skeletal notes. The musical effect is a bit different from the Shenqi mipu version.

​Download the Score

LisaoPlayed by 林旭文
00:00 / 12:08

Daya (Major Odes)

Shenqi mipu 《神奇秘譜》(1425)

  This piece is classified under huangzhong tuning in the 3rd volume of Shenqi mipu. According to the explanatory notes of the piece, this is "court music of the Zhou Dynasty". One of its sections utilizes the special hemitonic pentatonic scale 1, 3, #4, 6, 7 used by the Ming Dynasty scholar Zhu Zaiyu in court music in his Yuelu quanshu. Zhu explained that "music of the Zhou Dynasty does not use the shang note". This might be an early example of the use of this scale in the past.

Download the Score

DayaPlayed by Tse Chun-Yan
00:00 / 07:37

Xuanmo (Mysterious Serenity)

Shenqi mipu 《神奇秘譜》(1425)

  This piece is classified under gong mode in the 1st volume of Shenqi mipu. Also known as Zuowang, its explanatory notes provide a Daoist background to the piece. The main musical scale used is "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, b7", together with the use of some b3 notes. This is a rare example of the qingshang scale among traditional pieces. Some melodic lines have resemblance to those of the gong mode piece Youlan of Xilutang qintong, and the two pieces might have a common historical origin. 

Download the Score

XuanmoPlayed by Tse Chun-Yan
00:00 / 05:56

Yinde (Hidden Virtue)

Shenqi mipu 《神奇秘譜》(1425)

     This piece is classified under shang mode in the 2nd volume of Shenqi mipu. With the 1st string as do, the pentatonic scale is used together with a characteristic b3 note, giving the piece a special flavor. This piece was developed into another version called Qiujiang yebo in the Qing Dynasty, but the characteristic b3 note was eliminated.

Download the Score

Weibin yin (Singing on the Bank of River Wei)

Songxianguan qinpu 《松絃館琴譜》(1614)

  The piece is based on the story between King Wen of Zhou and Jiang Ziya, and is one of the zhi mode qin pieces utilizing the kuyin scale 5, 7, 1, 2, 4 (with unstable 7 and 4) in the late Ming and early Qing Dynasty. The decimal system was not yet used to notate stopped notes in this piece, and positions between two studs were only roughly indicated. Thus, one has to decide on the actual stopped positions according to the musical scale used. For example: for a position between the 7th and 8th studs, I use a slightly higher position 7-5 for the 6th and 4th strings (a slightly flattened 7 and a slightly sharpened 4), and the standard position 7-6 for the 7th and 5th strings, in order to match the characteristics of the kuyin scale.

​Download the Score

Weibin yinPlayed by Tse Chun-Yan
00:00 / 03:32

Zhuangzhou mengdie (Zhuangzi Dreaming as a Butterfly)

Wugang qinpu 《梧岡琴譜》(1546)

  This piece is classified under the shangjue mode. Using standard tuning with just intonation, and with the 1st string as gong (do), the jue (mi) note is emphasized. According to a Ming Dynasty handbook, pieces in this mode usually reflect disappointments and laments on worldly matters. 

Tianfeng huanpei (Jade Pendants in a Heavenly Breeze)

Xilutang qintong 《西麓堂琴統》(1525)

  Guan Pinghu and Zhang Ziqian, qin masters of the past generation, played the Fengxuan xuanpin and Shenqi mipu version of this piece respectively. This reconstruction is based on the Xilutang qintong version. The syncopated rhythmic design is lively, and a bit different from the reconstructions of the past masters. According to the explanatory notes at Shenqi mipu, the piece depicts a cool evening under the moonlight, when one hears the dangling sound of jade pendants of fairies in heaven.

Songyu beiqiu (Songyu Lamenting Autumn)

Xilutang qintong 《西麓堂琴統》(1525)

  This version in Xilutang qintong utilizes qiliang tuning and is the earliest extant version of this piece. Its tuning and melody are different from later versions bearing the same title, and thus is actually a singly surviving piece.

Songyu beiqiuPlayed by Tse Chun-Yan
00:00 / 06:33

Xinghua tianying (Shadows of Apricot Blossoms)

Music and lyrics by Jiang Kui 姜夔 of Southern Song Dynasty

Transcribed by Yang Yinliu and Yin Falu

Arranged by Tse Chun-Yan

​​

   This is one of the 17 pieces written in "popular" notation in the collection of songs Baishi daoren gequ 《白石道人歌曲》 by the Song Dynasty poet Jiang Kui. Transcribed by Yang Yinliu and Yin Falu, the piece is refreshing and elegant. This version is arranged by Tse Chun-Yan, with addition of the qin part.

Download the Score                  Link to Video

Hangong qiu (Autumn in the Han Palace)

Songxianguan qinpu 《松絃館琴譜》(1614)

    Songxianguan qinpu was compiled by the founder of the Yushan School, Yan Cheng. Yan classified this piece into the "yu" (or la) mode. However, the scale used is not simply the anhemitonic pentatonic scale, la, do, re, mi, sol, usually used in "yu" mode pieces passed down from the late Qing Dynasty, but is mixed with a hemitonic pentatonic scale with many do and sol sharpened. This scale is similar to the scale kuyin ("melancholy tone") used in some vernacular genres. The Yushan School favored the antique and the elegant. The theme of the piece is on the Han Palace. The fact that the piece uses the vernacular scale may indicate that the scale has had a very long history, and thus could represent antique music and became acceptable to Yan Cheng.

Hangong qiuPlayed by Tse Chun-Yan
00:00 / 07:18

Dongting qiusi (Autumn Thoughts at Lake Dongting)

Chengjiantang qinpu 《澄鑒堂琴譜》(1718)

 When this piece is played, usually the multi-source version by Zha Fuxi is used. This version from Chengjiantang qinpu utilizes the kuyin scale of vernacular music, emphasizing a slightly lowered ti note, and a slightly raised fa note. However, its serene mood differentiates it from vernacular music.

Please refer to 〈由《洞庭秋思》看民間樂制在琴曲的運用〉

Wong Chun-Fung (qin)

Dongting qiusiPlayed by Wong Chun-Fung
00:00 / 04:20

Baixue (White Snow)

Shenqi mipu 《神奇秘譜》(1425)

 This version utilizes a lot of non-pentatonic notes, in particular the b3 note. Thus, it is quite different from the pentatonic qin pieces from the late Qing Dynasty. The music reflects the crispy sound of the austere and pure bamboo covered with snow.

Please refer to 〈從半音階到五聲音階:明清琴曲音律實踐與意識形態的滙合〉

BaixuePlayed by Tse Chun-Yan
00:00 / 06:13
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