Some basic Chinese musical terms

“Les Jeunes-Filles en Heptachordia Sinesis et Clavichordia” (琴の少女達)" Acrylic on Canvas, 42” x 30”, painted by Satsuki Shizuka, completed Dec 25, 2007.

Through the shroud of mystery, at times amateurs discussing Chinese music theory may get even the most basic terms and concepts mistaken. To this end, let us examine or review some basic terminology used when describing Chinese music: (Please also tell me if you would like to know any terms you may have encountered but don’t know how to translate!)

(中文): (Mandarin pinyin): (Cantonese ping1 jam1): English meaning

General concepts:
樂理: yue4 li3: ngok6 lei5: (modern term) musical theory
律呂: lv4 lv2: leot6 lui2: (classical term) musical theory (specifically, of temperamental measurement and tones)
調: diao4: diu6: Tuning, (performed key) gamut.
均 (韻): yun2: wan5: “Resonance”, mode, gamut.

The tones:
宮: gong1: gung1: “Do”, tonic of the mode.
商: shang1: seong1: “Re”, supertonic of the mode.
角: jue3: gok3: “Mi”, mediant of the mode.
中: zhong1: zung1: “Fa”, subdominant of the mode. (Used in Zhu Zaiyu’s Yuelv Quanshu, 1596)
徵: zhi3: zi2: “So”, dominant of the mode.
羽: yu3: jyu5: “La”, submediant of the mode.
和: he3: wo4: “Si”, leading note of the mode. (Used in Zhu Zaiyu’s Yuelv Quanshu, 1596)

On tones:
律: lv4: leot6: “Rule, measure”. 1. Refers to the 6 “Yang” tones of the 12-tone gamut; 2. A half-step.
呂: lv2: lui2: 1. Refers to the 6 “Yin” tones of the 12-tone gamut.
少: shao1: siu3: 1 octave higher.
倍: bei4: pui2: 1 octave lower.
清: qing1: ching1: 1. A half-step (lv) higher, sharp; 2. The prefix put in front of a tone name to indicate that it is a new tone. Used specifically for historical gamuts with more than 12 tones.
變: bian4: bin2: A half-step (lv) lower, flat.

On rhythm:
拍: pai1: paak3: “Clap, beat”. A standard unit of musical time in a given measure (ban).
板: ban3: baan3: “Board”. 1. A measure or “bar”; 2. The prime or leading beat of a measure.
眼: yan3: ngaan5: “Eye”. A minor beat or beats following the ban.

The Dummies’ Guide to the Shuhe, Part 1


Source: Baidu Hanfu Bar
Author: Hu Jingming 琥璟明, President, Art Association of Hunan Normal University. 

Translator’s note: Hu Jingming (b. 1991, courtesy name Zongwu) is an expert on Hanfu, Chinese armors, and martial practices (including archery). A “Mount and Blade” and “Total War” fan, and member of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA). Hu has published various articles online regarding the process of reproducing armor and military wear, raising the awareness of Chinese armors as an artisanry and for practical purposes. He despises how modern TV dramas create ludicrous mockeries of historical armors, which would be “disasterous if actually used”. He is currently a Fine Arts student in the Hunan Normal University. 

A Shuhe (“Shoo-huh”) refers to a tight-sleeved cross-collared top that extends to the knees, coupled with tied trousers. It is the basis of almost all underclothing, the casual outfit of commoners and labourers, and is usually the clothing worn under armor.

Asides from being a Shuhe tutorial, Hu’s detailed accounts are also an excellent beginner’s guide to making clothes and tailoring practices. Because of this level of detailed instruction, this tutorial is split into two parts, with the first section covering basic tailoring of the pieces, suturing, and hand prints. The latter half will cover curved hems, collars, and seaming. More

Ganling’s Shuhe (Duanda) Patterns

For those who may be confused with the forthcoming tutorial, here is a at-a-glance rundown of the Shuhe 裋褐, commonly (and mistakenly) referred by its thespian jargon, the Duanda 短打. Essentially, it consists of a top (short or long sleeved) that goes down to the thighs or knees, coupled with a sash-tied pair of trousers.

Ganling 甘領, courtesy title (號) Jianlizhai Zhuren 劍礪齋主人 (“Master of the Sword-polishing Study”) has created the following series of tailoring diagrams for us to reference. Note that the design he has presented contains traits unique to Ming-era design (such as the pyramid-shape cutting and lapels that don’t extend fully to the armpit), and there may be discrepancies or variances with others who design Hanfu based on other periods. More

Save East Asian Studies @ UofT!

ZH: Sing Tao Daily 1, Sing Tao Daily 2, Sing Tao Daily 3, Ming Pao Daily
Update: EASSU’s statement and website

As you may have heard from media recently, the Dean and the Strategic Planning Committee at the University of Toronto is planning on the dissolution of 6 of its departments in the School of Humanities, partially to be replaced by a single “School of Languages and Literature (SL&L)”. For over 70 years, University of Toronto has been the leading institution in Eastern Canada and North America, acting as the leading institution to integrating studies of philosophy, literature, history, and political science of East Asia with a language acquisition core. Precisely because of this holistic curriculum, it has attracted students from Asia, Europe, South America, and even students in the US to decline their sponsorships to come study here.

Furthermore, the 2 specialized East Asian libraries on campus (Cheng Yu Tong and R.C. Lee HK collection) would not go unscathed from the proposed dissolution. These two libraries are the largest Asian collections in Canada, and contribute much further than just to the people at the university itself (as it is open to public access). Toronto Guqin Society would not have been established, let alone come this far if it was not for the resources, networking, and support of the East Asian Studies department and Cheng Yu Tong East Asian Library. More

TorGuqin Site redesigned


Hello all;

You may have realized that the usual green-white layout of our site is now replaced with a funky shade of beige and twilight shades of purple, and the usual header “Accounts of the Lutenist at Beaver Creek” is missing: Make no mistake, you are still on the same site, and the blog name has not changed (take a look at your browser’s title). In preparation for the second year of our official website, we have redesigned its layout to maximize use of space and make it easier for the eyes to relax on the page.

Many of the sidebar functions such as the calendar and tag clouds are now relegated to the three footer columns at the bottom of the page. Items such as recent posts and comments, in turn, are now much more visible on top of the page. There is also now a “subscribe to us by email” function, easily accessible on the top of our sidebar. The search function is available at the top as well bottom of every one of our pages.

We hope that you will enjoy this warm theme as we step into the heat of summer and followed by the scenic Canadian maple-autumn.

Hanfu Manhua now in English! Memories of a Homeland Ming Ch.1

Memories of a Homeland Ming 《君思故鄉明》 by Shu Shui 樹水.

I have recently joined the manga fansubs group Animexis Scans  as a Japanese/Chinese – English translator, and am happy to announce that readers will now be able to enjoy one of the plot-based graphic novel vignettes about the Hanfu movement in the English language.

Junsi Guxiang Ming / Memories of a Homeland Ming Chapter 1 is now released. Head over and read about how Niu Qingqing, a regular 14-year old girl with a close cousin who is obsessed over Hanfu, joins her cousin’s university Hanfu club one day, and encounters a mysterious boy in early 17th century attire…

Animexis Scans
Author/Raw: Shu Shui (miashar)
Translation: Satsuki Shizuka
Cleaning: Teeshirts / Kanapox
Typesetting: Nanakitade
QC: DragoZERO / Satsuki Shizuka

Downloads: Visit for the links!
Read Now: Read OnlineBaiduDiscuss on Animexis

Standards of the Guqin Now on Sale!

Standards of the Guqin, published by the Toronto Guqin Society

Update: Buy the book before August 15, 2010 while using coupon code BEACHREAD305 at checkout and receive 15% off^! *

Buy this book on Lulu now.
Now on sale at! (Preview available at Lulu page)
US$30.00 paperback,
US$11.50 PDF download

Since 2005, the Toronto Guqin Society (TQS) has been dedicated to researching teaching methods for the instrument in an Anglophone environment. After 5 years, it has come to its first fruition with the official release of the first original English guqin manuscript “Standards of the Guqin“!

^ Disclaimer: Maximum savings with this promotion is $10. You can only use the code once per account, and you can’t use this coupon in combination with other coupon codes. This great offer ends on August 15, 2010 at 11:59 PM so try not to procrastinate! While very unlikely we do reserve the right to change or revoke this offer at anytime, and of course we cannot offer this coupon where it is against the law to do so.



July 2010