Standards of the Guqin 2nd edition: Relaunch on August 10!

Musideum: A World of Musical Instruments features Standards of the Guqin on its shelves!


Come for an intimate evening of transcendent music and talk on the guqin, the Chinese 7-stringed zither, hosted by Musideum and Juni Yeung of the Toronto Guqin Society, as “Standards of the Guqin”, the first and only (to-date) English instruction book on the instrument, is relaunching into its second and expanded edition!

2 years and over 30 new pages later, the book features clear digital-type tablature for all sheet music, as well as a new section on tablature interpretation process, known as dapu.

The talk/concert will take place on Friday, August 10, 2012,
from 8PM at Musideum.

Standards of the Guqin Second Edition now out in stores! Go get your copy today!

Please RSVP with Donald Quan for tickets and/or preorder of the book, at (416) 599-7323 or
Admission to the event is $20,
while the book is sold for CAD$45, along with a personalized dedication autograph by the author on the site.

Standards of the Guqin to see Second Edition!

Standards of the Guqin score “Xianweng Cao” Section 1, as seen in the First edition and the upcoming Second edition.

== This is an important announcement to those who would like to purchase this book. ==

Standards of the Guqin will be publishing an expanded Second Edition within the month on Many previous errors, minor and major, have been corrected, as well as additional essays and expanded technical details on various matters from how to calculate the positions of the hui markers to tying the fly knot more effectively.

Most importantly, however, is the expansion of 6 new lessons and an entirely new chapter of the book, as well as a total update on all the music scores in the book into a digitally-printed from the previous handwritten scans! A look at the image to the right and you will see that the improvement is a dramatic one.

The only thing that will not change, is the retail price. With nearly 40 pages of new content, Standards of the Guqin Second Edition will be available on at US$30.00.

Please stay tuned for the book launch information, and the related launch event in Toronto when it’s out!

Addendum: For those who are looking for lessons, please read the curriculum prior to contacting the instructor.

Qin-strumming Etiquette, from Xilutang Qintong

Fuqin Jue 《撫琴訣》
(Rules of Qin-Strumming)

By Wang Zhi, in Xilutang Qintong (1549), Folio IV;
Translated by Juni Yeung

Original Source of Fuqin Jue from Xilutang Qintong, Folio IV.


When playing the qin, regardless of whether there are people nearby, one must play as if facing your elders. Placing the qin to the front of you, the body must be upright, your energies and spirits at peace and settled.

Collect your heart and cut off all worries, focus on your emotions and intentions.

Fingers do not give false strikes, and strings do not give false rings.

One does not look at the right hand, but only listen to its sounds.

The eyes do not look elsewhere, nor the ears listen to anything else.

When the heart does not think other thoughts, that is when one achieves the meaning of the qin. It is essential to recognize the sentencing and phrasing of rhythm, while there mustn’t be too many pauses or stops. Li Mian [Tang era, 717-788CE] noted, “Yin [vibratos] and stops are well-measured, while slowness and speed are orderly. Hurriedly, but not messy. Leisurely, but not stopping. Neither hurriedly or leisurely, like drifting clouds and flowing water. This is the crucial essence.”

Use of fingers must include both flesh and nail, in order to give a crisp sound. Too much nail and the sound is scorched. Too much flesh and the tone is convoluted. Both left and right hands cannot over-exaggerate.

There are three types of sound on the qin: First is san (open), second is an (pressed), third is fan (harmonics). Each pluck is like breaking the strings but the fingers pluck shallowly. Pressing the strings into the wood are to be firm but strength cannot be seen. Fan sounds are to be played near the bridge, lightly touching the string where the hui marker is with a brief point [of the fingertip], and its sound shall be clear and rounded.

If the body wavers and the neck twists often, pandering left and right, looking up and down, or if the facial expressions change, it is as if one is ashamed.

Or, if one’s eyesight scurries about, panting in with heavy breath, without regulation in advances and retreats, with a lax spirit or form, it will reflect itself in form of sound. Although the fingerings are right, the resonances of the sound will be messy and it cannot conform to the Five [proper] Sounds.

Not tuning the strings properly, playing heavily when it should be played lightly, or playing quick when it should be slow – all of these are major diseases [faults] to playing.

The rule of playing the qin, is to be simple and clean. It is not in asking for one as a person to be calm, but in one’s hands. The throbbing of the fingers is called being raucous, while being concise, lightly-treading on a steady pace is called being calm.

It is unnecessary to wobble the [left] finger outside of the sound. Let the proper sound be harmonious and smooth, and that will be good.

For the Junzi [Superior Person] of antiquity creates [regulates] to the causes of matters, he attenuates himself to pleasuring the mind, or describes his heart with irony, or expresses his lone resentment to transmit his ambitions. Hence it [i.e. the music] is able to focus the essence of sincerity, and move the spirits and gods.

One may only know three or five etudes, but refine it to the limits of excellence. However students of our day, perceive ability by sheer quantity. Hence the idiom “Sheer quantity leads to lack of quality. Quality leads to less quantity.” May the Junzi who understands true sound [i.e. friends] pay attention to this.

Here we have the rules of playing qin. What is difficult to procure are the scores to the music, for they must be requested to be passed down from the masters. Furthermore, fingerings and rhythm cannot be exhaustively detailed in the work of writing, so when facing a manuscript to play, we often only get its sound, but its profound intricacies in tempo and rhythm are forgone. This is like having rough measuring tools – you have the drawn shapes, but it lacks the precision that fine tools give.

In more prosaic terms, any given piece can be roughly divided into three sections: First slow, then tense, and finally slack. From slow to tense to stop forms the motif to a piece of music.

Often times there are indications of “do two times from mark.” (從勾二作) Play through it plainly the first time, to finish off the motif from the last sentence. Pause, and in the second play-through, play it strongly. From playing strong and then easing gradually and finishing with a powerful strike-in, forms the continuation to the sounds afterward. One must make the front and back relate with each other, clearly differentiating the beginning from the end.

Another example is the “Perform three times with spaced gou.” (三作間勾, i.e. Da-jiangou) First play the two sounds, pause, then respond to the previous section with four sounds, and finish off with one powerful strike-in.

A nine-tone long chain (chang-suo, ) involves playing two sounds, pause, and finish off with seven strong notes. This induces rise and fall at the front and back, connecting the motifs by arteries and veins, leaving its resonance drifting as if fading but still slowly progressing, and then a jolt at the end.

From slow to tense, and from tense to leisurely, if control of fastness and slowness is appropriate, and yin [vibratos] and stops do not lose their degree, then naturally the strings will resonate with clear rings. Sounds should preferably be clear, aim for simple and calm, and must not be messy. This is how an elegant, antiquated motif of profound emptiness is.

And this is why the intricacies are so hard to attain for manuscripts then and now. So for those self-studying the qin, and have yet to receive transmission from a master, it is best to focus your mind and dedication and ponder on these words. Follow the fingerings according to the manuscript to the hands, meticulously and slowly, accumulate one sound onto the next, section unto section. After days and months of practice, the heart and intention will connect, and the hands will automatically do its job. Then, you will naturally attain mastery as the ancients have.

As proverb has it: “When practice is perfected, it is the same.” [Doctrine of the Mean, 20]  The act of strumming the qin is precious in its accumulated progress, as prolonged experience leads to expertise. If one is eager and greedy for more, wanting for speed leads to one unable to arrive at the destination and all is then for naught, which must be avoided. I shall leave the essay on this note for students of the future to read, to dispel their anxious doubts. More

Visit TorGuqin Booth @ Small Press Book Fair on June 19!

Small Press of Toronto -- Incredible reads off the beaten track

Link: Small Press of Toronto

Toronto Guqin Society will be connecting with small publishers, musicians, and the public on June 19, 2011 @ 11AM-5PM, in Hart House (University of Toronto) with many other diverse writers and publishers in the Small Press of Toronto Spring Book Fair!

Come in to have a chat with us, listen to some music, and learn more about the activities we do, as well as peruse our publications and discography — the sale of the Standards of the Guqin (book) will be limited, so please leave a reply here to show that you may be interested, so we will stock more!

Our showpieces for sale that day will mainly consist of our two upcoming CD albums, Standards of the Guqin (Audio CD), and Long Yin -Dragon Murmurs- by Yan’an Zhu.

Facts in a list:

  1. Small Press of Toronto Spring Book Fair!
  2. Sunday, June 19, 2011, 11AM to 5PM
  3. Hart House, 7 Hart House Circle, Toronto, ON (room TBA, most likely one of the first floor rooms or Great Hall)
  4. Standards of the Guqin book will be on display, sales limited
  5. TorGuqin members’ CDs will be on sale!

TorGuqin plans 3 CD releases

Toronto Guqin Society is currently planning on the release of 3 CD albums to culminate the various styles and repertoire of the Toronto qin community, as well to supplement the Standards of the Guqin textbook’s musical scores.

The first CD albums will be featuring Juni Yeung, Chairman of the Toronto Guqin Society, with Standards of the Guqin CD confirming the following pieces:

(List A)

  • 仙翁操 Xianweng Cao 1’40” “Etude of the Transcendent Venerable One”
  • 良宵引Liangxiao Yin 2’45” “Prelude to a Fair Evening”
  • 秋風詞 Qiufeng Ce 2’00” “Ode to the Autumn Wind”
  • 招隱 Zhao Yin 3’00” “Seeking Recluse”
  • 關山月 Guanshan Yue 2’30” “Moonlight Over the Mountain Pass”
  • 流觴 Liu Shang 4’00” “Flowing Goblet”
  • (NOTE: Bolded titles denote not included in the Standards book, but from the Guqin Quji (2nd ed.), People’s Music Press.)

(List B)

  • 陽關三疊 (渭城曲) Yangguan Sandie (Weicheng Qu) 6’00” “Three Variations on the Yang Pass Theme (Wei City Song)”
  • 華胥引 Huaxu Yin 2’31”“Prelude to the Utopian Land”
  • 秋宵步月 Qiuxiao Buyue 4’00” “Strolling under the Moon in Autumn Evening”,

(List C)

  • 古風操 Gufeng Cao 4’30” “Etude in the Style of Antiquity”
  • 漁樵問答 Yuqiao Wenda 9’30” “Dialogue of the Fisherman and Woodcutter”
  • 孔子讀易 Kongzi Duyi 8’00” “Confucius Reading the Book of Changes”
  • 松下觀濤 Songxia Guantao 11”30” “Watching the Waves from Under the Pines”

All times stated above are tentative, and are subject to minor fluctuations. The pieces in this recording will be played in a no-frills manner, emphasizing on basic technique and interpretive treatment.

Stay tuned for more information on the other releases.

‘Standards’ Book Launch: Sept.30 @ Musideum!

From Musideum Newsletter, Sept. 2010: 

Juni L. Yeung will launch her new book, Standards of the Guqin, at Musideum on September 30, with a performance on Guqin and a reading of excerpts from her new book. 

 Date/time: Sept 30 (Thurs), 7PM.
NEW: The Facebook Page outlining the information

Admission $20.
Admission with Book $58. 
Books purchased in advance for this event will be autographed by the author.
>>>Please call 416 599 7323 to order a book in advance and make a reservation for the event. <<<

Details (Press read more):


Updates to Guqin Class Details

Please note that appointments for qin selections are now considered a session, and are charged as such.

Hello Members of TorGuqin;

Please note that there are slight modifications to the Guqin curriculum offered in the 2010 year, primarily on course fees and appointments to selecting instruments. Due to TTC fee hikes, each house-call session’s fee is now CDN$6.

Also, TorGuqin’s own textbook project “Standards of the Guqin” has released a new edition, now in a more compressed PDF format, and complete with Repertoire A scores and descriptions. Be sure to check it out and send any comments regarding the textbook under the “Guqin Textbook” page comments section!


June 2023