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|Qin Tablature Qin Handbooks: the main collection Other Qin Books and Tablature Qinshu Cunmu Melody lists
and their melodies (see also Qin Fu)
1950s reprint of Shen Qi Mi Pu (expand)
See also the sample page (248 KB)
The handbook list here lists over 150 such qin handbooks from before 1950. Of these 140 were copied into Qinqu Jicheng, but several of the remainder are also quite readily available.5 A few of the handbooks here have only instructive articles, but most have qin melodies written out in tablature. Altogether this amounts to about 650 melody titles.6
On this website, commentary on individual melodies is linked either through the earliest handbook which includes it, through the Guide to existing guqin pieces in tablature, or alphabetically via my repertoire lise. For many there is detailed commentary, though this is mostly limited to melodies I have personally reconstructed.
The annotated handbook list has commentary on individual handbooks and links to further commentary on most of the handbooks first published before the end of the Ming dynasty in 1644. In all I have reconstructed and recorded approximately 300 melodies from these and a few later handbooks. These sources include the following (with links showing the number of melodies I have reconstructed from that handbook):7
Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)
Staff notation and number notation
Staff and number notation indicate notes, not finger positions. Notation is generally thought to indicate absolute pitch: A = 440 Hz. As discussed in a separate comment on absolute pitch, this may be true today, but in the past the actual pitch of A varied considerably. In Chinese number notation today it is often considered that "1" has the same pitch as the modern "C". By tradition, though, "1" was relative pitch, comparable to the Western "do". For standard qin tuning either the first or the third string can be considered as do" ("gong" or "1"). So the absolute pitch of 1 depends on the mode of the melody as well as the relative pitch to which the strings have been tuned. In my own transcriptions into staff notation I treat C not as an absolute pitch but as a relative pitch, i.e., do/gong.
Tablature (also called "tablature notation")
As opposed to notation, tablature describes things such as finger positions and stroke techniques. Perhaps the best known examples of tablature are the bar chord indications for a guitar.
Qin tablature and qin handbooks (Qinpu) 琴譜
The text above describes how the word "qinpu" can refer both to the concept of written tablature for the qin and to books that collect this written tablature. When I studied the qin with Sun Yuqin and 蔡德允 Cai Deyun (ROI CDs) they both would give me the qinpu for the one piece I was studying at the time; it could come from any of a number of handbooks, it could have been copied out by one of their students, or it could have been copied out by themselves. Students of Cai Deyun eventually collected the tablature for pieces she taught and published them as the Yinyinshi Qin Handbook. Many past handbooks were probably formed in this way.
|4. 卷 Juan: "Folio"?
|A juan bound accordion style: one "folio"?
With traditional Western binding a folio (Wiki) referred to a sheet of parchment (later paper) that had several pages printed on it. As stated in the Wikipedia article,
Although there is some overlap here with the Chinese process, folio is not a very precise translation of juan and perhaps it would be better just to write "juan".
Handbooks claimed to date before 1950 but not in this
annotated list or these
handbooks not indexed
These are included in this list. A cutoff point of 1950 was selected because the modern accounting of old tablature dates back mainly to the research project led by Zha Fuxi in the mid-1950s. Since that time handbooks have continued to be published, both in modern form (e.g., with notation as well as tablature) and in traditional form (no notation but perhaps modern binding).
Beyond 150 qin handbooks and
650 melody titles
It is very difficult to know how much of the past repertoire the known surviving handbooks include. The list in Qinshu Cunmu adds more book titles; and Zha's Guide, Section 4, mentions but does not index at least 35 additional handbooks, mainly because they were handcopies that, by his account, repeated tablature that could be found in other handbooks. Some of the individually hand-copied tablature certainly included unique melodies and/or unique versions of melodies. It is natural that hand-copied tablature would be lost, but according to Tang Yiming, the compiler of Tianwen'ge Qinpu (Folio 1), many printed handbooks quite likely are also lost. His comments are translated by Van Gulik in Lore, pp. 30-31.
To this Van Gulik adds,
Links to recordings)
Reconstructions are not considered complete unless I have made recordings and transcriptions. Even then they should be considered tentative. Here, the first number in brackets is the number of melodies I have recorded from that handbook, with a link to the recording or list of the recordings. Other than those melodies as published during the Ming dynasty (or in Japan shortly after the end of the Ming) I have recorded only a few more. These include: