MUSI3034 The Qin (capstone experience)
Course Type: disciplinary elective for music majors/minors, free elective for others
Prerequisite: NIL
Instructor: Dr. YANG Yuanzheng
Semester: Second Semester 2021/22
Time: 12:30pm-2:20pm, Wednesday
Venue: CRT-11.01 Seminar Room
Redolent of the scholar, aristocrat, and literatus, the qin has a deep and distinguished lineage within the pantheon of Chinese musical traditions. This course is a survey of qin music from the late Bronze Age to the present times. Several themes are examined in detail: basic playing skills, semiotics of notation and the earliest known qin score, different styles and pivotal figures, representative works from the repertoire, typological analysis of historical instruments, and transmission and appropriation of the qin in East Asia. Readings from musicology, anthropology, archaeology, and art history introduce a variety of approaches to the interpretation of qin music.
At the end of this course, students who fulfil the requirements of this course will be able to:
  • demonstrate knowledge and appreciation of various qin music styles;
  • demonstrate knowledge of the history and the symbolic meaning of the qin music;
  • demonstrate the ability to assess a qin music performance through an informed scrutiny of its stylistic and formal characteristics.
Weekly Tasks 20%
Annotated Bibliography 20%
Course Participation 20%
Research Assignment 40%
  • introduction
  • prehistory of qin music
  • tuning mechanism
  • music notations and playing techniques
  • historical literature
  • the qin and literati
  • styles and pivotal figures
  • philosophy and aesthetics
  • transmission in East Asia
  • Addiss, Stephen. “Music for the Seven-String Ch’in.” In Tall Mountains and Flowing Waters: The Arts of Uragami Gyokudō, 29-48. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1987.
  • Gulik, Robert van. The Lore of the Chinese Lute. Tokyo: Sophia University, 1969.
  • Huang, Yi-Ping. “The Parting of the Way: Three Generations of Qin Performance Practice.” ACMR Reports 11 (1998): 15-44.
  • Lawergren, Bo. “The Iconography and Decoration of the Ancient Chinese Qin-Zither (500 BCE to 500 CE).” Music in Art 32/1-2 (2007): 47-62.
  • Watt, James. “The Qin and the Chinese Literati.” Orientations (November 1981): 38-49.
  • Wu, Wenguang. “Wu Jinglue’s Qin Music in its Context.” PhD dissertation, Wesleyan University, 1990, 108-153.
  • Yang, Yuanzheng. “A Tale of Two Manuscripts: The Making and Origins of the Earliest Scrolls of Qin Music.” Acta Musicologica 86/1 (2014): 32-73.
  • Yang, Yuanzheng. Dragon's Roar: Chinese Literati Musical Instruments in the Freer and Sackler Collections. Washington D.C. and Munich: Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, and Hirmer Publishers, 2020.
  • Yung, Bell. “Choreographic and Kinesthetic Elements in Performance on the Chinese Seven-string Zither.” Ethnomusicology 28 (1984): 505-517.
  • Yung, Bell. “Not Notating the Notatable: Reëvaluating the Guqin Notational System.” In Themes and Variations: Writings on Music in Honor of Rulan Chao Pian, 45-58. Cambridge, Mass.: Department of Music, Harvard University, 1994.