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Listen to Qin Music
(Also video recordings including
A Fisherman's Song from my CD:
listen while reading a transcription
Comprehensive list of online recordings
Here below are listed 264 of my mp3 recordings grouped by publications, here listed chronologically (compare my repertoire, which has the pieces listed alphabetically). All but a handful of these are of melodies I have reconstructed and recorded (dapu) from qin tablature published up through 1670 (see how to listen.4) To go directly to the recording select the Chinese title; selecting the English title goes to the commentary, which in turn links to a transcription as well as the recording.5.
|I.||Tang and Song dynasty (including You Lan)||唐、宋代出版的 (包括‘幽蘭’)|
|II.||Shen Qi Mi Pu (1425)||神奇秘譜錄音|
|III.||Zheyin Shizi Qinpu (<1491)||浙音釋字琴譜錄音 (希聲)|
|IV.||Taigu Yi Yin (1511)||太古遺音|
|V.||Xilutang Qintong (1525)||西麓堂琴統|
|VI.||Faming Qinpu (1530)||發明琴譜|
|VII.||Fengxuan Xuanpin (1539)||風宣玄品錄音|
IV. 太古遺音 Taigu Yiyin (1511; 24 melodies on 23 mp3s)
Of its 38 qin melodies I have recorded 23 but sing as well as play on only a few of them. Other than Guan Ju Qu, which has a loose connection to the 1491 Guan Ju, these are all the earliest surviving versions of these titles.
V. 西麓堂琴統 Xilutang Qintong (1525; 79 pieces)
The following 79 pieces are on 74 mp8 files (44-45, 65-66, 166-168 and 169-170 are combined); all are the earliest surviving version of these titles. 109 of the 170 pieces from 1525 are the earliest surviving version (see chart). In addition, a few modal preludes have a connection with earlier such preludes.
以下個MP3有西麓堂琴統 (1525) 的音樂。到現在沒有光盤。
VI. 發明琴譜 Faming Qinpu (1530)
These four melodies are the four (of 25) that survive first from Faming Qinpu.
VIII. 杏莊太音續譜 Xingzhuang Taiyin Xupu (1559)
In the mid-16th century several handbooks were produced mostly with different versions of melodies published earlier; Yu Qiao Wenda is the best known new one from these handbooks.
IX. 龍湖琴譜 Longhu Qinpu (1571)
For further silk string qin playing: (聽別的人彈絲絃古琴)
Important note on the natural volume of qin music
For the most authentic listening experience, the speaker volume should be kept low, e.g., no louder than normal speech level. Qin music is not designed to overcome its natural surroundings. Note, however, that an essential element of qin music is the color of the tones; the .mp3 file format required here necessarily means some of this color has been lost. (Return)
Online recordings (MP3; see also General and Technical Details of my Qin Recordings. )
The selections from my CDs were originally recorded during the late 1990s in the 招隱室 Studio for Seeking Solitude, a room at my home overlooking the South China Sea in Cheung Chau, Hong Kong, then were edited in a professional studio. I had to record in the middle of the night, at which time the main obstacle was the noise of the motors in passing fishing junks.
The other recordings included here are part of an ongoing process. This began in October 2006 in the new Studio for Seeking Solitude at my home near the Hudson River in New Jersey, facing Manhattan. The room is rather quiet, but if you listen carefully with headphones to recordings made there you may sometimes hear way in the background the sound of passing cars, planes or helicopters. If it is a neighboring lawn care machine I have to stop. Around that time I bought a Sony RCD-W500C CD recorder. This enabled me to make the initial MP3 files for this website by first copying my DAT recordings onto a CD, then ripping MP3 files from there onto my computer. (My Sony DAT recorder records at a sample rate of 48, whereas CDs use a sample rate of 44.1. For this reason, although both the DAT and the CD are digital signals, I could only copy between the two using analog format.)
At the beginning of 2009 I started using a Fostex FR-2LE Field Memory Recorder (solid state); this solved the analog-digital problem. However, I still had only primitive editing programs available. To solve this I moved from PC to Mac and learned some basic editing techniques in Mac's Logic Express. This is the system I used when we moved to India.
After moving to Mumbai in May 2009 I continued recording in a sound insulated room (another Studio for Seeking Solitude) in our home there. There the problem was banging noises elsewhere in the building, auto-ricks and sometimes other vehicles on the street outside, and sound from speakers in a temple across Nirvana Park from our home. Although my equipent served me well most of the time in India, towards the end my Fostex blew up.
In August 2011 I bought a Roland R-26 portable recorder (www.roland.com), also digital. It can be used either with its built in microphones or with external ones.
Around the same time we moved to Singapore, where we lived in centrally located flat that was rather quiet but my new Studio For Seeking Solitude was not sound insulated. Consequently doing recordings here, from 2011 to 2013, I used the Roland R-26 by itself, without the external AKGs or Aerco preamp (see technical details). During the daytime it seemed quiet until I began recording, which had to be done at night. Then the main noise problems came from within the building: water in pipes, doors opening and closing, footsteps. Nevertheless, I was able to continue doing some recordings.
Regarding the melodies with lyrics, for those with the shorter lyrics I simply sing as I play. However, there are also here some songs that are too long or complicated for me to sing and play well at the same time (three are online at present: Ming De Yin / Kongsheng Jing, Qing Jing Jing, and the sung version of Jiu Kuang). For these I first recorded the qin onto the DAT recorder. Then I played this back, listening on headphones as the sound was also fed through a Samson S-Mix, a small five-channel mixer. I then sang along through the original microphones, also hooking them up through the AERCO microphone preamp to the Samson. This mixed sound then went to the CD recorder. I sang at the same distance from the microphone (about 1 meter) as I did when playing qin and singing at the same time; unfortunately the balance never seemed to me quite correct.
After getting my Roland R-26 I double tracked some songs using it together with the Mac: first I recorded onto the Roland, then I copied this into Logic Express. After doing any necessary editing I sang while listening on headphones to this being played back, recording that onto the R-26 (which does not have the capability of recording sound over sound.) I then copied that new track into Logic Express and the timing seemed to line up without a problem. I could then balance the qin and song tracks separately.
Issues of balance, particularly on the earlier recordings, and having to do the singing myself, are problems I am still working on, but in the mean time I have gone ahead and put some of these files online for two reasons. One is that some people have expressed particular interest in qin songs, but there are very few recordings currently available. The other is my hope that enough of the beauty of these melodies will shine through my amateur singing and recording that it encourages other people to sing the songs themselves.
How to listen to these recordings
In order to listen while still looking at the page with commentary you probably need to right click the link, select "open in a new window", then (if necessary) make the page with the showing the recording progressing small enough that you can see both windows. When I set up most of the pages I put in code that would automatically open the recording page in a new window, but then the code meaning changed and now it usually opens in a new tab, so you cannot look at both at the same time. The aim is, by putting the recording window on top of the page introducing the melody, you should be able to read the introduction as you listen; and for many of the pieces you should be able follow the music section by section by scrolling down to the section titles, where timings are indicated.
Also, you may have settings that control whether a selected piece plays only once or repeats continuously.
For all the music I play I have also written out Western staff notation using the computer program Encore. For those transcriptions that are online along with the recordings, please note that the transcriptions use Western staff notation as though they are the Chinese number notation. In other words, C is not the modern C or the baroque C, but the relative note do, corresponding to the Chinese gong or 1. This is because there is no absolute pitch with the qin: the actual pitch of the strings depends on such variables as the size of the qin, the quality of the strings and the temperature, as well as the taste of the player. There are further comments on this under Modality in Early Ming QinTablature.
Transcriptions (see also My Publications)
For all the pieces I have recorded I have also made transcriptions into staff notation - this was part of the reconstruction process. All melodies through and including the 1491 handbook are available also as transcriptions. However, for the final recordings of later melodies, often there are enough differences from what the related "final transcription" that I have not yet put it online. Anyone interested in a particular missing transcription can contact me and I will try to rush that piece to the front of the queue.
From 1974 to 1976 I studied 17 melodies from master Sun Yuqin. When I went to Hong Kong I began reconstructing early melodies, starting with ones that had some similarity to melodies I had learned from Master Sun. So as not to be too confused by those learned versions I stopped playing them completely. As a result I have very few recordings of my original repertoire.
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