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Qin tablature and playing technique / Wu Ye Ti / Shen Qi Mi Pu recording from my SQMP CD 琴譜     目錄
Evening Call of the Raven: Transcription of the Opening 1 開啟烏夜啼之五線譜  

11 sec; mono; 22kH, 8 bit; 265kB audio icon
This sample from my CD Music Beyond Sound is notated as follows (from p. 78 of Music Beyond Sound, the book. The book includes some explanation of qin tablature; Pei-You Chang has more under Finger Technique and Notation

Printed under the staff notation are lyrics which say, "bi tian ye ru xi, yue zhao huang yun cheng shang, han wu jie, ya ya zhi shang ti" (jade sky evening becomes pure; moon shines yellow clouds city above, cold raven joins, 'ya' 'ya' branch on calls). Under this is the handwritten tablature, explained underneath as follows:

  1. "Chi #" in the first column follows the order of symbols/ clusters in the tablature line.
  2. "Note #" refers to the corresponding notes in the transcription.
  3. "文字譜" explains the tablature by showing how it might have been written using longhand tablature.2
  4. Explanation in English

Chi # Note # 文字譜 Translation of the Chinese shorthand
0 nil 左右並 (omitted as superfluous; it says "left and right [hands] together")
1 - 3 1 - 7 散拂一至七 open strings; (right) index finger "brushes" from strings 1 to 73
4 nil 泛音起 harmonics begin
5 8 無名七,勾泛一 left ring finger at 7th position; right middle finger "hooks" 1st string inward
6 9 泛二 same harmonic played on 2nd string
7 10 勾泛三 same harmonic hooks 3rd string
8 nil 泛止 harmonics end
9 nil beginning of a section called "moon"
10 11 大名六下,抹七 left thumb stops below 6th position; right index finger "rubs" 7th string inward
11-14 12 - 20 就,長鎖七,九聲 left thumb stays in position; right fingers do a "long chain" on the 7th string, 9 sounds.
15 nil 泛起 harmonics begin
16 21 無名七,泛挑六 left ring finger at 7th position; right middle finger "kicks" 6th string outward
17 - 19 22 - 24 五、四、三 same but on 5th, 4th then 3rd strings
20 nil 泛止 harmonics end
21 25 大六下,擘七 left thumb stops below the 6th position; right thumb "splits" 7th string inward
22 nil 不動 "don't move" the left finger (in preparation for a later note)

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Qin transcriptions (original at QQJC I/231
For a diagram of how the tablature is put together see this sample tablature page with explanation. Qin tablature was originally written out in Wenzipu, a form of longhand writing that used standard characters, most if not all of the time, perhaps with special meanings.

2. Longhand notation
There are examples of this "文字譜 wenzipu" under finger techniques, with further examples under You Lan and Caoman Yin

3. Fu: (Right) hand brushes...
It is not necessary to specify which hand "brushes", since 拂 fu is always done with the right hand; likewise; generally it is not necessary to specify which finger in any left hand technique, as that is included in the name of the stroke. (Note, however, that although today 勾 gou is always done inwards by the middle finger and 挑 tiao outwards by the index finger, in the ancient longhand system this was not necessarily true.

Go to CD info, or return to playing qin.