彈撥類 Plucked String Instruments
Guqin (Ancient Zither)
Guqin, also called “Seven-stringed Zither”, was rendered as “qin” in most ancient writings. The discovery of the remains of the qin in ancient tombs (500 to 200 B.C.), together with the description of the qin and its music in many ancient writings assured us of its long history. Today, qins of the Tang Dynasty (700 A.D) up to the Qing Dynasty (19th Century) still exist in museums and in collections of modern qin players.
The qin consists of a long, narrow upper wooden board made from tong tree (or other trees of the pine family) and a lower board made from catalpa tree (or other hardwood). These two pieces of boards are stuck together and lacquered on the surface. There are 13 small dots (call hui) inlaid on the outside of the upper board, which mark the positions of the musical notes and their harmonics. Seven strings are fixed on the upper board, starting from the thickest one on the outside to the thinnest one on the inside. When played, the qin is put on a table.
When compared with other instruments, the qin is special in the following aspects:
1500 years ago, music for the qin was recorded by words, which were called “Literal scores”. During the Tang Dynasty, “Simplified scores” were developed and used from then on instead of the “Literal scores”. Over the centuries, qin players published over 150 books on qin music, which included over 3,000 pieces of music for the solo qin or songs with qin accompaniment, and also plenty of articles on theories about the qin. The legacy of qin music is so rich that it is now considered as the gem of Chinese traditional music and catches the attention of experts on music history and musicologists around the world.
Transcription of Qin Music
Transcription (dapu), in qin music, means interpreting, arranging, examining, differentiating and re-creating, for performing purposes, the large number of pieces of music for the qin recorded in ancient documents.
The person who does the transcription of a piece of qin music must have an in-depth research on the period, composer, different versions of the piece, descriptions of the piece by qin players over the centuries and the development of scoring methods of the qin. He tries his best to be faithful to history and recovers the original sounds of the piece through performing it. It is a complicated and tedious task. It has been said that it took “three months for a small piece, and three years for a large piece”.
Pipa, was originally referred to two plucking techniques “pi” and “pa” for all the plucked string instruments in East Han Dynasty period. These were the right hand techniques, pi was played in forward direction and pa was played in opposite direction. At that time, all of the plucked string instruments were then began to be called “pipa”. Around the fourth century (around 530 AD), a kind of pipa, shipped to China through northern India. Then it was widely spread to the southern part of China and well developed in Sui and Tang Dynasty. In addition to being a solo instrument, pipa also used for accompaniment of songs, dance, opera and always used in instrumental ensembles. After a long development period, the imported pipa has ongoing reformed to a pear shape instrument with four strings, use fingers instead of pick for plucking and changed the performing style from horizontal to vertical. The substance of the strings has also changed from silk to nylon and steel.
Guzheng is also called zheng. It is one kind of the oldest Chinese traditional musical instrument. Upon the Warring States period (403 – 211 B.C.), it was most popular in Qin territory (now Shaanxi province). So it was also called “Qin Zheng”.
According to the historical records from the poetry and other writings, they told us that the instrument was beloved by the public and most people could manage it. It also reflected the importance of it in the civil through music history.
Although zheng was originated from Qin territory, it was gradually spread to Henan, Shandong, Guangdong, Yunnan, Zhejiang provinces and became their civil instruments. Today, zheng has been greater developed and is one kind of the traditional musical instruments among the people in China.
The sound box of the instrument is made by a long wooden board from tong tree. On the upper arch-shade side is load with strings across the separate bridges. In the past, the strings were made with silk, or bronze. Nowadays, they are made with steel and nylon. And the number of strings has developed from twelve to twenty five. On the lower flat side, there are two sound holes. The smaller one near the head of the instrument is used for affixing the strings. While the bigger one in the middle is used for the sound to transmit downward.
Yangqin also known as the Dulcimer was delivered to China since the Ming dynasty (1368-1644 A.D.), it was initially popular in Guangdong province and later on spread widely to other provinces. It was mostly used as the accompanied instrument of various operatic music, folk singing and talks. After development, it was also used for solo and ensemble music. It has a wooden ladder shape sound box which is mounted with strings over the bridges. It is performed with bamboo strikers and has a clear and melodic tone colour. It can be played up to more than two octaves in the scale. Nowadays, it is developed on the size and the number of string and bridge. It can be played four octaves in chromatic scale.
Liuqin is so called, because it has a willow-leaf shade sound box. It is an instrument of the operatic music spread along the northern Jiangsu, southern Shandong and Anhui. The original liuqin has only two strings, seven frets and use a plectrum to pluck on the silk strings. Nowadays, it is developed to have four strings and twenty four frets in chromatic scale. The silk strings are reformed to steel-nylon strings. It is now the chief soprano plucked instrument of the ensemble.
Yueqin is developed from the ancient instrument called ruan. It is widely spread in many districts and be used as the accompanied instrument of various operatic music, folk singing and talks. After development, it was also used for solo and ensemble music. In the Beijing Operatic Music, it is used together with the jinghu and jingerhu to form the “Three Majors”. In the Yi minorities of the south-west district, their yueqin is called the xianzi. In general, the sound box of the yueqin is a wooden round shape one, we can also find some octagons. It has seven frets and four silk strings in two groups of perfect fifth. Each group has two strings tuning in the same pitch. Nowadays, it is reformed to have twenty four frets in chromatic scale and the silk strings have changed to steel-nylon string.
Sanxian is also called Xianzi and is developed from the xiantao of the Qin dynasty. It was named sanxian since the Yuan dynasty (A.D.1280-1368). It is widely spread in Han nationality and certain minorities. The Han one has a wooden ellipse shape sound box covered with skins in both sides. The long stem (handle) is the finger broad with no frets on it. Around the mid-nineteenth century, the artist MA San-feng of Gaoyang, Heibei province, reformed the small sanxian and initially develop the large sanxian which was well received by the northern artists. Since then, two kinds of sanxians spread simultaneously and formed the music style of north and south. Small sanxian was then call quxian and be used in the southern China. Large sanxian was then call shuxian and be used in the northern China.
Ruan is a kind of plucked instrument derived from zheng, zhu and konghou since Han dynasty (140-87 B.C.) It bears a round wooden sound box and a long stem which has four strings and twelve frets. It was called pipa at that early time. Later on, it was renamed qinpipa or yueqin. At Tang dynasty, it was developed to have thirteen frets and be called ruanxian. It is now generally called ruan and mostly has three to four strings with frets in chromatic scale. Nowadays, it has developed into xiaoruan, zhongruan, daruan and diruan. Each of that bears twenty four frets and become a set of plucked instruments in the ensemble. The zhongruan and daruan are commonly used in solo, accompaniment and orchestral work
Qinqin is developed from the ancient instrument called ruanxcian. According to the historical materials, ruanxian was firstly introduced by RUAN Xian of the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove in the third century. After few centuries, it was rediscovered and widely spread in many districts with alternative developments.
Nowadays, qinqin is developed into a six-segment shade form called meifa qinqin. It is a plucking instrument with wooden sound box like yueqin, bearing a long stem with 17 frets and three strings.
Meifa qinqin is formerly derived from Chaozhou two-string instrument called shuangqing and be transformed to an alto instrument with three strings by Cantonese musicians in early twentieth century. It is later widely used in Cantonese music performing and become a model instrument.
Konghou is a kind of plucked instrument which had three designs the horizontal, the vertical and the Phoenix head in the ancient times. These three kinds of konghou had already failed to pass down to us. In 1930s, Shanghai Ta Tung National Music Research Institute has copied it from the old design, but cannot popularize. In 1970s, scholars and manufacturers based on the distinguishing features of the harp and the characteristics of the traditional instruments developed a new kind of konghou. This new instrument bears seventy two strings in heptachord. Its range is a1-b3 and is commonly used for solo, accompaniment and orchestral works.