Xilutang Qintong Vols. 6-8 subject of 2013 National Dapu Conference

WANG Zhi’s Xilutang Qintong, first published in Ming Jiajing Year 28 (1549). Originally 25 folios.

Source: http://www.chineseguqin.org/news_read.php?no=2513
New Source: http://www.chinaguqin.org/qjzx/ShowArticle.asp?ArticleID=1241

Translator’s Note: Xilutang Qintong is one of the most comprehensive and ambitious project and achievement in premodern qin music publication history. Containing 170 pieces including 19 with lyrics, it is by far the largest single manuscript collection of existant qin music to date. Tianwenge Qinpu in 1876 comes in second, with 145 melodies.

What makes this book especially precious, asides from the surviving original being a handcopied version stored by Li Yunzhong of Tianjin with Folio 5 (including fingering index and L/R hand explanations) now lost, is the 75 unique or sole surviving versions of melodies not found in any other manuscript. Of the 29 modal themes in 14 different tunings, half of the tunings are unique to the melodies in this book. In summary, there is no overstatement to the musicological and historical importance of this collection, which the author has spent the majority of his life scouring the Ming landscape in search and editing for this compendium.

The contents regarding the upcoming dapu conference can be found in Qinqu Jicheng (QQJC) 2nd ed., Vol. 3, pp. 60-90. On the commonly-shared PDF file, they are on pp.72-102.

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Dapu’ing Songxia Guantao: A report

The hellish mess that comprises of a musician's nightmares unto daybreak.

The hellish mess that comprises of a musician's nightmares unto daybreak.

*re-released, final complete*

Back in sometime early 2008, Charlie Xu and I were invited by Christopher Evans on the Facebook Guqin group to dapu a “lone version piece” – a guqin melody by  the name of “Under the Pines, Watching the Waves” (Songxia Guantao), which “onlyexists in the manuscript Yanlulou Qinpu, published in 1766.” Albeit nine sections long, Christopher believed it would be an easily manageable and hoped that it would be fully interpreted in half a year and could get underway practicing soon.

How wrong we both were.

My sincere apologies for promising that so quickly. Exactly one year About 368.5 days after the question was asked, the dapu is complete. Most of the time was spent happily (or frustratingly) procrastinating on other things like starting this blog, Mabinogi, homework essays, and relatively futile articles on other topics that nearly made its way into an academic journal, but didn’t on grounds of pathetic office politics and email squabbles.

In the coming sections, I will be giving a full detailed report on the identifying and explaining the process and challenges of dapu, and give a reasoning to my musical interpretation and analysis in this 18th-Century score. For those who just want the score to download and play, it is available for download in five links after you click below.

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Ming versions of Gaoshan and Liushui – An Experiment

Debut performance of the merged SQMP versions, Oct. 26. Photo by Shin'ichiro Hieida, merged by the author.

Debut performance of the merged SQMP versions, Oct. 26. Photo by Shin'ichiro Hieida, composited by the author.

Personally, the piece Liushui (Flowing water) has been an important work in my repertoire – the Tianwenge version (Qing dynasty) being a level 9 piece recognized by the Central Conservatory, I have studied it 3 times (failing the first two times), and finally mastering it to perform at my debut into the guqin career at the 2005 Toronto Kiwanis Music Festival. While this piece is well-performed, well-played, and well-researched, I have always had the notion of wonder as to the ties with its sibling piece, Gao Shan (Lofty Mountains). This is even more so if one looks at earlier Ming records of the piece – they are almost parallel, save some parts that signify the unique symbolisms of the theme.

So I thought, if the piece was divided around the Song-Yuan period, why not try putting them back together? An experiment has then been planned, and is now underway. More

Procrastination and Dapu’ing

Dapu means cramping oneself in a corner, huddled on paperwork.
Dapu means cramping oneself in a corner, huddled on paperwork.

Since late spring 2008, I have undertaken the challenge offered by a friend on the Facebook Guqin group to do Dapu work on a piece that is long, challenging, and practically NEVER heard of before. Due to procrastination with my own novels, writing projects, and computer games, I have still not completed it as of the end of September.

 
Similar to my novel writing, my moments of uber-productiveness usually happens in cafes, in class, or in transit. If it weren’t for my frequent travels from Richmond Hill to Downtown during the summer, I wouldn’t even have finished half of the work.
 
Before I go on, let’s give an overview of what Dapu’ing involves. You have a score from a historical source, which has only a bunch of fingerings. Your mission (should one accept it) is to make sense of it by playing it out, and then memorize/record the tempo and rhythm, as well any corrections to the score if necessary.
 
 As it is intensively boring work, this post will cover and update as I go along.
 

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