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No library is big enough
For more reading about and listening to the guqin see:1
  1. Bibliographies
    These include both English and Chinese language books and articles:

  2. Discographies   (see also my own online recordings of historical reconstructions)
    Although this website focuses on qin music as published in the Ming dynasty, appreciating guqin music should begin with the inherited tradition. For this one must listen to recordings that pre-date the modern conservatory style. In this regard, the first three compilations below stand out:

    1. "老八張 Lao Ba Zhang" (1994: the "Old Eight CD Set")
      This collection of 53 recordings by 17 players was once the only significant collection of early guqin recordings. These have since been re-issued and copied.2
    2. 絲桐神品 Sitong Shenpin (2017; a 30 CD set, with bios).
      274 recordings from the Chinese National Academy of Arts; a more complete version from basically the same source as the Lao Ba Zhang.3
    3. 絕響 Jue Xiang (2016; a 74 CD set; pdf)
      For this compilation of 645 recordings, most using silk strings, 國鵬 Guo Peng called on a variety of sources in China and overseas, both earlier and later than the above.4
    4. Other silk-string qin CDs5
      This is a more complex listing, in several parts. Some collections also include non-silk tracks.

      The DVD with the Qin handbook from the Rong Family of the Pearl River Delta (香江容氏琴譜 Xiangjiang Rongshi Qinpu) is also of note. The DVD has 33 tracks recorded by Yong Hak-chi (Hammond Yong; silk strings) and his father Yong Sze-chak (same melodies; metal strings).6

      For lists more focused on qin songs see the Appendix under Qin Poetry and Qin Songs.

    Beyond this is an ever changing landscape, made more challenging by such factors as all of the recordings now found only on the internet and the many being locally produced; in particular I have heard or heard of a number of recordings of qin songs that probably deserve special mention. This is also complicated because my original discographies included both silk string and metal string recordings. Eventually, though, I separated the two: someone who wants to appreciate the value of historically informed performance must be able to hear the difference between the silk string and metal string sounds.7

    For further reference:

    The recent expansion of this page may make it seem odd that it is included under "More". The focus of my own work is qin melodies as published during the Ming dynasty. It is thus an added rather than integral pleasure to be able to listen to listen to this tradition as it existed before the modern conservatory style took hold (again, not a criticism, just not my area of interest).

  3. Links to other sites
    Some other sites have special emphases not found here.
Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. "More"
This page has become somewhat complex because the word "more" is so vague. It includes (or should include)

  1. Links to further information about Chinese culture in general. Linked in this section is a page for non-guqin links, but it hasn't been developed. Instead, throughout the site there are numerous references to other arts that have connection to qin and its aesthetic.
  2. Bibliographies and discographies showing where to find further information. This site has been designed for my own focus, qin music as published in Ming dynasty and earlier sources. Part of the reason for this was that when I began studying the qin repertoire was very limited. For example, by the time I had been studying perhaps 10 years there were still very few recordings available of what I considered traditional qin music, i.e., the old music as it had come up today, still played on silk strings. This section was thus fairly small and focused.

However, the increase in available recordings, and particular the release in the past few years of the the above-listed 8-CD, 30-CD and 74-CD old recordings, mostly with the traditional silk strings, has led to a dramatic increase in the size and potential breadth of this section.

Hopefully what I have put online in this section will help people get a better understanding of the breadth of qin culture that was still surviving in the 1950s, when Zha Fuxi's recording project began.

In this regard, I do plan to make more of these recordings available online. However, it is not clear to me what the copyright situation is. Meanwhile, my plan is to put it online in focused ways.

Thus, for example, I have put online here all the recordings I have been able to find of the 7th or earlier century melody Jieshi Diao You Lan, just below my own recording, with my analysis and the hope that this will inspire further analysis as well as appreciation of this amazing musical piece.

2. 老八張 Lao Ba Zhang": the "Old Eight CD Set" (1994)
My own set is in the form of 8 separate CDs under the title "An Anthology Of Chinese Traditional And Folk Music - A Collection Of Music Played On The Guqin". I am not completely up to date on current availability, but have noted that occasionally there are pirated re-issues that may sacrifice quality or have parts cut out.

3. 絲桐神品 Sitong Shenpin: Guqin, The Incredible Instrument of Silk and Wood (1950-1970) (Chinese title list; pdf)
As of 2021 this collection of 30 CDs was available on Taobao (for ¥1400). These 274 recordings were selected from the 中國藝術研究院藝術文獻館 Chinese National Academy of Arts archive of over 2000 titles (this ?). Currently, 10 of them are online.

4. 絕響-國鵬輯近世琴人音像遺珍 Jue Xiang: Guo Peng's Selected Works of Modern Prominent Guqin Masters, 2016 (pdf of Chinese title list)
This is a comprehensive set of "645 pieces of recorded guqin music by 78 late masters along with 8 hours of video images of 17 guqin players", plus a book of academic essays. Originally a limited edition not generally available, as of 2021 it seems to be available on Taobao (q.v.).

In Guo Peng's collection the recording from the Berlin archive is the first piece on the first of 74 CDs. The piece is identified as "Hsüh Lü yüan-四大景-片段.mp3"; the CD is entitled, "Hsüh Lü-yüan 馬壽洛" (Müller apparently did not record the characters for Hsüh Lü-yüan; and the CD also has six recordings of Ma Shouluo [1869—1962]).

As an example of the value of Guo Peng's collection, it contains seven recordings of Jieshi Diao You Lan, as listed here.

5. Other silk string recordings
Quite likely there are a number of significant recordings missing from here, in particular as I have not been actively collecting recordings for quite some time. Because I have listed separately some "best of"/"favorite pieces of" anthologies of single players there is no overall index for this section. Some include non-silk tracks, and there is also some overlap of titles and actual performances, particularly between Jue Xiang and Sitong Shenpin.

6. Qin handbook from the Rong Family of the Pearl River Delta (香江容氏琴譜 Xiangjiang Rongshi Qinpu)
Some videos can be found at Hammond Yong's YouTube channel.

7. Silk vs non-silk string recordings (further comment)
With Western music, "early music" standards require needing to know the difference between a Baroque keyboard recording featuring a piano and one using a harpsichord. It is not making a value judgement to say this, simply stating a fact: to appreciate the value of playing on original instruments (including strings, something also often lost in recordings of early Western string music) one must be able to hear the difference between those performances and performances on modernized instruments/strings. In fact, most people seem to prefer the modern versions: they appreciate what their contemporaries are doing with the old sounds. Western music apparently developed the way it did in part because people related better to new sounds: they consider them improvements. There is nothing wrong with that attitude: I just happen also to like the old sounds as well. Perhaps I focus on them because so few other people do: if I didn't focus on them, I would never hear them.

To me it is nonsensical (a word unrelated to "true" or "false") to think that "this new way is more true to the aims/aesthetics of the old music because, e.g, if Bach had had a piano he would have composed for that rather than the harpsichord." One of the aims of using silk strings today (in addition to simply enjoying the sound) is, rather than trying to imagine what the ancient Chinese scholars would have done if they had had access to metal strings (or pianos), to try to listen to the music they praised so much with as close as possible a representation of the sounds they actually heard. If comparison is necessary, try to contrast that with an imagination of the popular music around them at the time, not with an imagination of what they would have heard had they lived in the modern world.

Another bit of nonsense on the silk vs non-silk string issue: could this be like the difference between you trying to imagine you are a Ming dynasty Chinese person and you trying to imagine what a Ming dynasty Chinese person would have done if he/she were you? That both may be impossible does not mean that neither attempt has value.

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