Why Tradition Works: The Jianzipu’s Success (Part 1 of 2)

When “modern precision” is simply more trouble than its worth. From Wu Wenguang’s abridged “Liu Shui (Flowing Water)” score.

Originally “Relationships Between the Physical Structure and the Score Form of Qin” (古琴的物理結構與譜式改革) by Huang Hong-Wen, PhD Candidate (Dept. of Chinese, National Taiwan Normal University), published in Yinyue Yanjiu Vol.18 (May 2013). Translated by permission of the author.

Visit his blog at: http://blog.xuite.net/zxy5000kimo/twblog.

This is the first half of the 7-part essay, with its accompanying footnotes converted to endnotes.

Translator’s short review: The debate of jianzipu, or “reduced character tablature,” grew heated since the repopularization of the art since UNESCO heritage recognition in 2003 and standardized examination since 2006. Since the 1990’s Chinese and Taiwanese qin scholars have attempted to “modernize” the tablature system, in use for over a millennia since Cao Rou’s invention in the mid-Tang dynasty (8th c. CE), but all have failed to establish a system as equally effective. This paper reveals some open secrets to the reasons why players prefer the traditional Chinese system rather than the Western-adapting systems, but most importantly identified the largest shortcoming of all contemporary systems to be their obsession with score-pitch correlation (a factor of ‘modernity’ they strive to import) but overlook timbre, or the nature that the qin’s consecutive tuning allows numerous variations to produce the same pitch. This paper provides a gateway for further criticism into narratives of Chinese ‘modernization’ methodology and how obsession with pursuing precision often misses its mark as it falls short in effectiveness in delivering critical contexts specifically required in the trade or attaining holistic command of the craft.

Abstract (translated from Chinese version): The controversy in reforming the guqin’s jianzipu (reduced character notation) has long origins, since qin players long have listed the tablature alongside rhythm punctuation (、) and Gongche notation in order to solve the problem of ambiguous rhythms. Since Wang Guangqi [t.n.: 1892-1936], modern scholars have used the five-line score as the notational basis, appending further simplified fingering symbols onto the cipher, hence completely changing the face of written guqin music. Amidst these suggestions, few could address the issue from the qin’s physical structure, or its complicated and irregular “one pitch, multiple positions” as the approach for the qin tablature’s reform. Since the qin’s hui harmonic markers are based on just intonation while pressed notes are based on the “San-fen sun-yi” (adding/subtracting thirds method) temperament, the latter’s positional description is controlled under the former and hence causes this phenomenon. In contrast with other instruments such as the dizi or pipa, this exemplifies the uniqueness of the qin’s structure and resultantly its pedagogy. If one uses the “correlating a sound with a position” method typical with other instruments on the guqin, it would counterintuitively cause difficulty and confusion to the player, and therefore “correlating positions to produce a pitch” should be the correct methodology for the guqin, where the jianzipu is exactly the product of such requirements. New written guqin score reforms were unable to clearly provide the harmonic or stopped positional informations, as learners must first learn the five-line staff, and spend extra energy to memorize every position of a given pitch, which to the study of the guqin is double the effort, and counterproductive in spreading the art to the public. A written score should, aside from communicating a cohesive understanding of the music, establish its basic function in effective learning. Hence, guqin scores should use jianzipu as the basis, providing positional information, supplemented by five-line staff or numerican notation, to fill in for any deficiencies in jianzipu’s lack of rhythmic demarcation, in order to fulfill the aforementioned expectations.

Author’s original English abstract (with spelling abridged):

A reform of “less-word score” of Qin has been a long-term debate. During Ming and Qing Dynasty, tempting to solve the problems of the inadequacy of clear melody, some Qin players already accompanied “less-word score” with “seeds dots” or “lyric” to mark the beats and tunes. In modern years, following the first advocate Wang-Guang-Qi, scholars mainly of more simplified finger skills. This has totally changed score form of Qin. Among these proposals, few of them are discussed in view of the physical structure of Qin. That is: the irregular and complicated “One sound, many scales”. Musicalogically speaking, marking dots (called Qin-Hue) on Qin body are results of “pure tones” of overtone, while pressing-tone are results of “three-point profit and loss law.” A compromise about positional signs is given by the latter to the former, which makes the structural phenomenon of Qin. Comparing with Chinese flute, Chinese lute and other instruments, this unique is more obvious. Special physical structures require special learning methods. “Sounds first, scales second” fits general instruments. On the contrary, “scales first, sounds second” fits Qin. Consequently, “less-word score”, not “staff”, is the product. It brings Qin players less confusion and fewer difficulties. Newly-reformed scores cannot directly provide positions of pressing-tone and overtone. Learners thus achieve little success despite much effort, needless to say to the public. In addition to the responsibilities for communicating and solidifying music, scores should provide some basic easy-learning function. In order to mend the problems of insufficient melodic signs marked on “less-word score”, positional information, staff and simple score can be put together with “less-word score”. Under any circumstances, “less-word score” will always be the subject of Qin scores. This kind of combination may possibly satisfy the expectation interpreted as above.

1. Foreword

The guqin is an ancient Chinese instrument, and qinpu, written tablature to the guqin also have quite a long history. The earliest written piece of guqin music surviving today is Youlan from Tang-era hands. From the foreword of said score, it is known that it was transmitted from Qiu Ming (493-590) of the Six Dynasties period. Qinpu textually transmits information on the hand movements, strings and positions involved, where players have to read a long string of characters before comprehending a movement or position. Although detailed, it was debilitatingly verbose. It was said that Cao Rou of the Tang era who created jianzi, by simplifying parts of relevant characters into symbols and combining them together into block characters that individually expressed fingering, hui positions and fractions, and to a limited degree rhythmic information, and hence greatly simplified guqin recording methods. From Gu Yuan (Ancient Lament) in the Songs of Baishi Daoren by Jiang Kui in the Song dynasty, to Kaizhi Huangying Yin in Shilin Guangji of the Yuan dynasty, to the Ming dynasty’s first guqin repertoire Shenqi Mipu, and the hundred several print published qinpus, although details in character simplification varied while others may add gongche or rhythmic appending notation, jianzipu‘s function in delivering fingering and positional information was unobstructed and continued to serve players to the present. [1]

Traditional jianzipu’s ability to include rhythm information is quite limited, and these information are not absolute or clear, but rather only ‘suggestive’ in effect; also, qin players cannot directly observe the pitch of a given note, and must obtain it through playing it on a guqin in the prescribed method in order to achieve an understanding of the piece. Therefore, when players are faced with a foreign piece of jianzipu, they cannot intuitively comprehend the tune of the written music. That is why the cry for jianzipu reform have heightened since recent times, as many scholars and qin players alike wrote extensively in discourse. Consolidating previous arguments, pro-reformers have criticized jianzipu in the following manner:

First, the steps to learning a new piece should be to grasp the concept of the melody, then attain the positions and sounds through the prescribed fingerings to express the music as required. However, jianzipu only records fingerings and not pitches, so the learner cannot first have a melody in mind – “nothing to sing vocally, nothing to chant at heart,” and have to resort to exploring the music through mechanical execution of the fingerings, which goes against the principles of learning. [2]

Second, jianzipu only have fingering and no tune, so the learner studies fingerings as his primary task, hence losing the music’s stresses, highs and lows, tempo and syncopation. [3]

Third, jianzipu only have fingerings and no pitch, and is restricted to within the guqin circle, which makes it difficult to communicate outside with other instruments. Musicians who are not literate in jianzipu would be unable to understand the melody of qin pieces, which would lead to some composers unable to access the instrument for their work. This is partially the reason for the closed nature of guqin music. [4]

Fourth, those qin pieces which were lost in tradition cannot be immediately performed due to the lack of melodic record, and must be restored by a strenuous process of interpretative ‘dapu‘ to be performable again. [5]

And fifth, the characters of jianzipu are high in stroke count and are visually complicated to read. Hence, a qin player can only remember so many pieces and despite the many pieces recorded and passed down, the amount played are low. [6] From these five points, we can summarize them into two portions: The first four points target jianzipu‘s “lack of melodic markings”, while the last one is an expression of dissatisfaction with its difficile learning curve.

Then, how do the reformed score differ from jianzipu? Within the reform camp for guqin tablature, Gong Yi’s “five line staff” system was the outstanding representative, which follows the direction from Wang Guangqi, Yang Yinliu and other predecessors, and was formulated after thirty-some years after discussion in the Shanghai Conservatory of Music Guqin group in 1962. [7] This new format used the five-line staff as its mainframe, and denotes simple techniques with equivalent symbols, removing huifen positional demarcations while retaining string numbers. Focusing more on melodic presentation while overlooking positional information was its greatest feature.

Dissertations arguing for qinpu reform are numerous, but their points are overall similar. They all identify the shortcoming of jianzipu‘s complexity yet having no melodic markers; and those qin players defending the practice of jianzipu were unable to provide a pragmatic, scientific standpoint to counter effectively. This essay will attempt to depart from the unique physical structure to investigate the relationship between this and its resulting unique learning and performance method, and hence its unique scoring method, to witness the intimate ties between jianzipu and the pedagogy of the guqin. We shall position the value of jianzipu from this relationship, and reflect on the achievements and shortcomings of the five-line staff method, and provide suggestions for the direction of guqin score reform, and avoid the regret from potential self-mutilation of tradition.

2. Confusion from one pitch in multiple positions

Guqins have seven strings, with a long effective vibration distance. Every string can produce tens of pitches with the sliding and pressing on the strings with the left hand. Adding on to this, the pitches between strings are mostly major seconds or minor thirds, which leads to the prevalence of “one pitch, multiple positions.” How does this exactly get reflected on the guqin? What decisive influences does this affect its pedagogy and tablature form?

The pitches of the guqin are interspersed on the seven strings and thirteen hui. Looking on the horizontal axis, each string had ten-and-some positions to move across. Taking string I as example, its pressed sounds range from D to e1 [8]. Longitudally speaking, pressed sounds not only laid on the thirteen huis, but also on the fen (decimal fractions) between them, and at times there is more than one sound between two huis. [9]

With these intersecting relationships, below is a summary table:

Table 1: Guqin Pitch Relations Chart

Table 1: Guqin Pitch Relations Chart

Hui markers are counted from right to left on the guqin, while string numbers work from up downwards. First working laterally across, each string has ten and some pitches, but the distance between each vary; on different strings, the distance to the equivalent pitches are also not equivocally spaced apart. For example, the pitches c and d are located on string I @ 7 and 6.4, string II @ 7.6 and 7, which are within the boundaries of one hui, but on string III, they are on positions 9 and 7.9, which exceeds one hui. Now looking longitudinally, a pitch can be classified as “found on all strings,” “found on selected strings,” and “other.” For those pitches “found on all strings,” they can take hui 10 and 5.6 as one cluster, 11, 6, and 3 as another cluster, 8.5 and 4.8 as one cluster, 7.9 and 4.6 as one cluster, 7.3 and 4.2 as one cluster, 7.6 and 4.4 as one cluster, 6.4 and 3.5 as another — all these form perfect octave pairs. However, the sequence between these groups can be totally unrelated. As for the “other” pitches, which cannot find a full complement on the board, such as the outside position or 6.7. With these unrelated distribution patterns intersecting the entire board, the sequence of pitches then becomes chaotic, and creates many situations of unregulated “one pitch, many positions.”

Because the above listing is rather holistic, it may seem confusing; to the lowest degree, we can at least pick out several commonly used pitches, and determine how they’re placed on the instrument.

Chart 2: Commonly used positions on the guqin.

Chart 2: Commonly used positions on the guqin.

The seven pitches listed in the chart above are often used in guqin performance: they all have corresponding locations on the seven strings. As seven times seven is 49, this number is not few; and if one correlates these positions onto the earlier chart, you’ll see that there is no mutual correlation between them.

From analyzing these two charts, we can therefore postulate that if guqin scores cannot clearly indicate positions for pressed notes (as well as harmonics), there will be three obvious challenges ahead:

First, the student must memorize 49 or more positions [TL: for seven common pitches with pressed strings]. This is already a conservative estimate – as higher level pieces will exceed usual usage patterns.

Second, the student must memorize by rote, as these positions have no relation between one another.

Third, the above has not even yet taken into account the issue of zhuandiao (“changing tunings”). Once the tuning has changed, the pitches and hui-fen positioning will change correspondingly. This will in turn create yet another chaotic and disorganized pattern of positions. Given that about eight or nine tunings are commonly used in today’s repertoire, this far exceeds the memory capacity of a person.

In order to accommodate this unique situation for the guqin, a suitable guqin score should provide complete “positional information” in order to satisfy the pedagogical and performance needs and requirements.

3. Learning method and suitable score formats

Melody is the first thing to be acquired in most musical learning processes – when the student understands the melody, he then manipulates the instrument to reproduce the music. When dealing with instruments that have one position for one pitch, such as piano, guzheng, dizi and xiao [10], the student can easily apply the melody onto the instrument. After all, these instruments have one key, string, or sound hole for one sound, “a turnip in a hole.” As long as the student have a certain proficiency with the instrument, his fingers will have little difficulty in handling the translation from either sight reading or auditory imitation. Therefore, the five-line staff or numerical notation is suitable to their use: as long as the score could provide clear information on the melody, combined with said specific instrument’s unique fingering or timbre representation notation, it is a “pitch-based notation with fingering supplement” style, which the performer can use this “pitch-based score” (five-line or numerical notation) and its melodic information and arrange it on the instrument’s keys, strings, or holes with the “a turnip for a hole” method.

But, learning the guqin is not exactly the same compared to the above. When I started learning the instrument, I of course had to first understand the melody of the instrument, but I cannot simply arrange that information onto the strings and hui of the qin, but obtain the ‘positional information’ from jianzipu in order to know which fingering is to be used on which position. Using my experience teaching the qin, I will often demonstrate several times how a section of a piece is performed, emphasizing the positional information of the performance. In the imitation process, the student familiarizes with, asides from the melody, those very sets of positional data. Not only does a guqin player have to be familiar with a piece’s melody, but also has to memorize the positional information – that is the main difference of learning this instrument from others.

In learning the guqin, one must simultaneously handle ‘melodic information’ and ‘positional information’, but often qin players forget the latter in performance, forcing them to terminate. Someone once said:

Last few years, some guqin majors applying for the Shanghai Conservatory of Music recited several pieces in the examination hall. They could “play ceaselessly,” but for simpler folk tunes, they often would play one note and not know where the next was, panicked, and couldn’t continue no matter what. [11]

Also, from the decade-and-some years experience with the guqin circle, regardless in a personal gathering or public performance -even the author himself – was prone to stopping performance suddenly halfway because one forgot where a fingering position was. These kinds of situations was due to the qin’s complex ‘one pitch, multiple positions’ and unrelated distribution of sounds across the instrument.

The strength of jianzipu lies in directly providing positional information such as string numbers and hui-fen positions, effectively solving structural difficulties of the qin’s ‘one pitch, multiple positions’ system. Performers can intuitively follow the tablature directly to perform, without extrapolating the relationship between a certain pitch with a certain string and position, and instead focus his energies on other performance requirements. Even those with zero knowledge on musicology can quickly reproduce the sounds from following the score. Yang Shibai said:

The reason why the study of the qin has not yet been abandoned, [is] by having a score explicitly noting a certain string and hui, one can naturally produce the sounds of heavenly music and generously fill one’s ears. [12] Even though [the qin] is hard to master but easy to learn, as long as one gets a few days’ instruction, he can produce music; with the tradition of the jianzipu, by learning the gou-ti-mo-tiao [names of several right hand movements; i.e. basics], one is not restrained from beginning to act pretentiously. [13]

From this, we can see that the intuitive nature of jianzipu is indeed an effective solution to the guqin’s ‘one pitch, multiple positions’ problem.

4. Reflecting on the “Five-line staff guqin notation”

In the face of the ‘one pitch, multiple position’ situation, the limitations of Gong Yi’s proposed “five-line staff method” are evident. Its weaknesses are twofold: First, the student must first learn how to read the five-line staff. This alone already excludes a large majority of people, the ones remaining largely institutionally-trained musicians. Even the creator of the system recognized and had to face the challenge. He said: “Because the five-line staff has not yet been proliferated to the masses, it may cause students who are unfamiliar with it some difficulty in its use.” [14]

Secondly, students had to memorize the corresponding pitches of every string. Even veterans of the qin concede that this was beyond them. Li Dejing said, “Because of objective factors that led the the complications on its pitch distribution, direct sight-reading is not too easy, as one needs to be very proficient with the qin’s pitch-positions. Expressed another way, this indirectly justifies why the jianzipu system is used to this day.” [15]

The specific work unit researching on guqin tablature reform – the “Shanghai Music Conservatory 7-stringed qin group” – asserted that guqin scores should be reformed to be ‘recording melody first, followed by fingering tablature’ in line with other scores, but also said, “Using this kind of written music isn’t without its problems and difficulties. If one does not record hui positioning, and then asks the performer to confirm his left hand position and string name by given pitch and string number, it would first require a practice piece to train up the handling of pitch recognition. At the moment, this is still difficult by teaching method, but we believe that this isn’t something that can’t be overcome.” [16]

The pedagogical difficulties mentioned originates from the innate structure of the qin itself; as long as this structure is unchanged, one cannot begin discussing how it can be “overcome.”

For scholars looking to revolutionize jianzipu, they must also admit that even melodically-centric “pitch notation” has its inconveniences in pedagogical applications. Gong Yi’s attention to the five-line staff’s lack of proliferation was only one part of the problem; the more fundamental issue laid in the oversight of the guqin’s unique physical structure – a complex and irregular “one tone multiple positions” and its learning method. When teachers require students to “search with the left hand and play the pitch, as well note its string number,” this already goes against the usual method of human memory, as to one reversing the “positional-based” system to a “pitch-based” one is in fact forcing for even more difficulty. Students using the “five-line staff system,” compared to those who play directly off of jianzipu, spend much more extra effort and time on these two challenges. The former requires much time and effort and still may not produce a fully performable piece, while the latter can spend this time and energy to perfect performance technique and achieve greater things. The two systems contrasts each other in the effectiveness, as jianzipu can provide complete and clear “positional information” for players to “attain sound through recognizing positions” and perform, and completely coincides with the guqin’s inherent physical structure and natural pattern of its pedagogy. The prime function of the “five-line staff system” is to denote pitch rather than position, and it may be suitable for “one note, one position” instruments, so while each has its strengths and weaknesses, only by recognizing this difference can the discussion of guqin notation reform have a clear direction.

Also, the strengths of the five-line system explained in Li Dejing’s “Important Reforms in Guqin Notation” are also worth discussing. Here I shall paraphrase the article, as the original is quite lengthy. Its two major points are:

1. “Five line notation” denotes pitch and rhythm, and not only can it be sight-read for performance, it can also be used to collaborate with other instruments, and creates much ease in musical creation and intercourse.

2. Reducing or merging some over-intricate fingering methods in original jianzipu with new characters and symbols is beneficial to learning. [17]

In regards to the first point, traditional jianzipu indeed lacks rhythmic indication, and this will be discussed in further detail next section. However, Li’s statement that “guqin scores lack rhythm was intentional by the ancients and was intended for leaving the performers larger space for interpretation, emphasizing individual style and creativity. Hence, it cannot be simply understood as unscientific or unadvanced.”[18] These two strong contradictions appeared in the very same page, and catches the reader off guard. Also, the reason why the guqin cannot be sight-read from the score is not in the usage of jianzipu, but in the structure of the instrument. The effective string length of a guqin is quite long, at over 110cm, and the player’s hand reaches for over 90cm of it from the 1st to just outside the 13th hui. With such a distance without physical markers of reference such as the qianjin string of the erhu or pinxiang frets of the pipa, the player can only look at the hui positions and the left hand to ensure accuracy of the pitch, and cannot spare his eyes to read the score while he plays. No matter which style of notation, qin players must first memorize a piece before performance on stage.

Regarding the second point, while guqin fingerings are diverse, these are precious assets left by our ancestors. While this is not to say that there is no dross among them, the scholar must be cautious on his exclusion, and cannot easily merge or reduce. Peng Zhiqing writes in Tongxinge Zhifa Xiwei:

“There are those who ask: … with the diversity of fingering techniques, it is already quite meddlesome to the hands, and now you intend to explicate even further in detail. What for? I reply: A gentleman in his casual living should pursue the Extension of Knowledge as the pretense of a Proper Heart and sincerity. Therefore one should never be satiated from details in study, and causes be investigated to the ends of Principle. Although fingerings are but minutiae, it is the actual foundation of qin studies. Master Zhu (Xi)’s Qinbian states, “From getting down on studying Gongfu (‘effort’) in order to achieve higher proficiency,” to practicing the breathing and circulation with the fingers, and from there evolve to the manifestation of Qi and sensing of the Spirit, in order to wield the virtue of connecting with the venerable spirits and harmonize between Heaven and Man, all depends on this, so how can one summarily dismiss them as “meddlesome to the hands and eyes”! [19]

Guqin fingerings, in its gou-ti-mo-tiao pluckings and yin-rou-chao-zhu vibratos, each have their own intracacies, and express emotional elements in its shades and hard and softness. Qin pieces rely on these fingerings as the basis to achieve the high degree of expression, and we should know that qin scores service the musical arts – if we are to simply merge or omit them in the name of reform, and then affect the height of the art, is that not reversing the ends with the means? As for Li Dejing’s position to create new symbols for easier recognition and memorization, that may be unnecessary. Jianzipu was a simplification of wenzipu (text notation), and every jianzi simplified character has its own original proper character. If I recognize the proper character, then I naturally recognize the simplified one. For example, 木 is simplified from mo 抹, 丁 is simplified from da 打, the relationship between the two are quite close. In the human memory, those with close, logical relations are often easier to be memorize. [20] From here one can rebutt the preface of this essay the accusation about jianzii characters “having overly complex strokes and dazes the eyes.” All in all, guqin jianzi fingerings has its key role in guqin artistic expression, and cannot easily be reduced or merged, nor can it be accused of being hard to learn or memorize.

Essay translation to be continued to Part 2 here.

Endnotes (Converted from footnotes):

[1] This paragraph describes the origins of guqin jianzipu history, which is often mentioned in Chinese music history or guqin culture primers, and vary only in its length and level of detail. I only exerpt the gist of its intent here to progress the point of this paper, and will not cite individually of its source.

[2] Yang Yinliu, “Suggestions to Reforming Guqin Tablature (guqin pushi gaijin cuoyi),” Yang Yinliu yinyue lunwen xuanji. Shanghai: Shanghai Arts Publishing House, 1986, p.140. Yang lists three deficiencies with jianzipu, and this point is the paraphrasing of his “first point of deficiency with qinpu.

[3] Paraphrased from “third point of deficiency with qinpu” of Yang Yinliu’s “Suggestions to Reforming Guqin Tablature.”

[4] Li Dejing notes, “Since the divergence and specialization between musical creation and performance, the creation of music must rely increasingly on the written score, and become the medium between creator and performer, forming a dual affinity of the pair.” See Li Dejing, “The Important Reform of Guqin Notation – In Critique of Guqin Five-line notation (guqin jipufa de zhongda gaige – ping guqin wuxian jipufa), Zhejiang Arts Vocational College Journal, No.7 (2009). p.67.

[5] Yu Heqin notes, “Western five-line score notes both pitch and meter, while Chinese qupu also notes meter with dots beside notes, hence it can be spread to thousands and remain the same, unchanged throughout the generations. It is the guqin alone, with numerous sounds and diverse methods, that attempt to represent one sound with one character, in addition to position and fingering information, already an extraordinary feat in itself, unable to look after its meter. This leads to contemporaries must having gone under dapu interpretation in their attempts; when players gather, tunes differ although the piece is the same, which leads to disputes and conflict, and disciples learn from each his own masters, but none are true to the original ancients. This is all because the ancient scores having no meter, and the blame cannot be put onto the later generations.” See Yu Heqin, Qinjing Shiyi folios I, II. Qinxue Congshu. Beijing: China Bookstore [1925]2005, folio XIV.

[6] This opinion is based on “second point of qinpu deficiency” from Yang Yinliu’s “Suggestions.”

[7] Gong Yi. Guqin Yanzou Fa. Shanghai: Shanghai Education Press, 1999. p.39.

[8] There are higher pitches beyond this point, but are omitted here as they are seldom used in actual performance.

[9] Guqin positioning is expressed in relation to the hui markers, and for space between two huis, the space is equally divided into ten fen. There is a special way to reading these coordinates: For example, a position at 6th hui and 2 fen down, is expressed in shorthand as “6-2”. 8th hui 5 fen is “8-half,” and there is yet another pitch 2 or 3 fen below 13th hui, and is called huiwai [outside the hui] in short.

[10] By pressing on the same sound holes but with a different breath, xiao and di flutes can also play notes in different octaves, but does not impede the learner’s memory, hence they can be seen as “one note, one position” instruments.

[11] Hu Dengtiao preface (preface 1), Guqin Yanzou Fa. Shanghai: Shanghai Education Press, 1999). p.1

[12] See Yang Shibai, Qinxue Suibi Folio I, 16, in Qinxue Congshu. Beijing: China Bookstore [1925] 2005. Vol.4.

[13] See Yang Shibai, Qinxue Suibi Folio II, 21, in Qinxue Congshu, Beijing: China Bookstore [1925] 2005. Vol.4.

[14] Gong Yi, Guqin Yanzou Fa. Shanghai: Shanghai Education Press, 1999, p.42.

[15] Li Dejing, “Guqin Jipufa de zhongda gaige — ping guqin wuxian jipufa [An important reform in guqin written notation – a critique of guqin five-line notation],” Zhejiang Vocational Academy of Art. Journal. No.7 (2009), p.71.

[16] Shanghai Music Conservatory Qixuan-qin Focus Group Group discussion, Lin Youren recording, “Dui gaijin qixuanqin jipufa de yidian yijian [Some opinions towards improving the seven-stringed zither’s notation system],” Qinxue Liushinian Lunwenji. Beijing: Wenhua Yishu Chubanshe, 2011. Vol.1, p.141.

[17] See footnote 15.

[18] Ibid.

[19] See Jinyu Qinshe ed., Jinyu Qinkan. Shanghai: Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, [1937] 2009. p.128.

[20] If one must discuss new fingering symbols and jianzi, I fear that it’d be a free-for-all as suggestions would all have their own way on which is easier to remember. This is not the point of this discussion, as compared to the confusing complexity of pitch, fingering symbols and their ease of being remembered is but a mundane matter.

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May 2014
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