Information on individual academic papers
"The Beauty of Qin Music: Timbre and Rhythm." [in Chinese with English abstract] In Gems of Ancient Chinese Zithers, 48-52. Hong Kong: University Museum and Art Gallery of the University of Hong Kong, 1998.
〈古琴創作初探〉《北市國樂》157期 (2000) 及《七絃琴音樂藝術》第七輯 (2000)。
"Was the Notation of Stopped Notes in the Ming Dynasty Guqin Tablature a Non-Exact System?" [in Chinese with English abstract] Musicology in China, 2002, no. 3: 56-59.
The notation of the guqin tablature before Dahuange Qinpu (1673) has not started to use the proportional decimal system yet. The stopped notes between two hui(s) were notated by a non-exact system. For example, "eight-nine" represented the note between the eighth hui and the ninth hui. For stopped notes notated by single hui(s), if one follows the exact position of the hui, no matter whether one uses the cycle of fifths tuning or just tuning for the open strings, according to the analysis in this paper, an undesirable mixed tuning would result. Therefore, notation of stopped notes by single hui(s) could also be non-exact. One may adjust the stopped position slightly higher or lower depending on the tuning. Then, the Ming Dynasty tuning methodology using single hui stopped notes should not be used as an evidence for or against the use of just tuning system in guqin music. Also, when one plays the Ming Dynasty scores, the pitch of the stopped notes outside the pentatonic scale may be treated more flexibly to suit the expression of the music.
"The Inconspicuous Acceleration in Qin Music: An Insider's View with Validation by a Perceptive Study." Asian Musicology 11 (2007): 29-41.
"From Chromaticism to Pentatonism: A Convergence of Ideology and Practice in Qin Music of the Ming and Qing Dynasties." PhD diss., The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2009.
Qin, the musical instrument of the Chinese literati, is characterized by its subtle expressiveness. There is often a gradual acceleration of the tempo which is considered inconspicuous by insiders. To validate this inconspicuousness, a comparative perceptive study was done in an undergraduate music class. The students' impression on acceleration and their ability to identify correctly the tempo change of a section of a traditional qin piece and a traditional zheng piece (as control) were compared. Both pieces nearly doubled the tempo in the one minute section. Out of 16 students, 5 and 14 noted some acceleration, and 1 and 7 students measured the tempo change correctly, for the qin and zheng piece respectively (p value 0.004 and 0.07 respectively). The relative inconspicuousness of the acceleration in the qin piece is thus demonstrated. The psychoacoustic features of the inconspicuousness, the generalizability of the finding, and the aesthetic implications are analyzed.
Qin music in the living tradition passed down from the late Qing Dynasty uses mostly an anhemitonic pentatonic scale, in line with the Confucian ideology favoring the use of pentatonic notes. The intonation used is typically based on the circle of fifths, in line with traditional Chinese music theory.
In this study, I demonstrate that the practice in the Ming and Qing Dynasties was far from the Confucian ideology and traditional theory. Through a vigorous methodology, representative pieces from past scores are reconstructed, and the use of tonal materials in past scores is studied. The results show that notes outside the pentatonic scale were often used in the early Ming Dynasty qin pieces. Non-circle-of-fifths intonation elements, including vernacular intonation elements, were used frequently in the Qing Dynasty, and possibly the Ming Dynasty.
Changes in the tonal materials during the transmission process are then traced. The use of non-pentatonic notes was gradually reduced, and the pieces became mostly pentatonic in the mid-Qing Dynasty. Efforts to eliminate the non-circle-of-fifths intonation elements began to appear in the mid-Qing Dynasty, and the elimination was successful in the late Qing Dynasty.
There were multiple contextual factors related to the changes. The loss of repertoire during the wartime periods before the Ming Dynasty led to the exoticness of the chromatic qin pieces among the less chromatic majority. Pursuit of simplicity and subtlety in qin music probably contributed to the further reduction of chromatic notes in the late Ming Dynasty. The elimination of the 4th and 7th degrees in the Qing Dynasty could be related to the preference for the "southern style" among the literati, but ideological factors probably were operative as well. These included the quest for antiquity and identity issues. Both were intimately related to social and political factors, associated with frustrations of the Han Chinese under the rule of Manchus. On the other hand, the effort to eliminate the non-circle-of-fifths intonation elements was prompted mainly by the increasing emphasis among scholars to put theory into practice near the end of the Qing Dynasty. Finally, ideology and practice converged, and pentatonism and "proper" intonation prevailed.
(A condensed version of the dissertation in Chinese is published at 耿慧玲、鄭煒明、劉振維、龔敏編《琴學薈萃：第三屆古琴國際學術研討會論文集》91-117，濟南：齊魯書社，2012。) Full text (in Chinese): Part 1; Part 2
"Dahuange Qinpu and Changes in Intonation Practice of the Chinese Seven-String Zither, Guqin." [in Chinese] Musicology in China, 2013, no. 2: 34-39.
Starting from the guqin handbook Dahuange qinpu of 1673, the decimal system was regularly used in the tablature notation of the guqin. Professor Chen Yingsi considered that this "marked the beginning of the historical period of the use of circle-of-fifths intonation in guqin music." However, many of the stopped notes positions in the handbook do not belong to the circle-of-fifths system. One cannot attribute all of these as scribal or calculation errors. According to analysis in this paper, different intonation systems were used simultaneously in a same piece in this handbook, including just intonation and vernacular intonation. This shows that the editor of the handbook was not bound by traditional intonation theories, nor by the dichotomy of the elegant and the vernacular. Upon review of handbooks before and after Dahuange qinpu, this pluralistic approach in intonation was not first introduced by Dahuange qinpu, and was passed down to later generations. Though Dahuange qinpu marked a major change in the notation system used, it did not mark a major change in the intonation system used. Circle-of-fifths intonation became the mainstream approach only in the 20th century.
Tse Chun-Yan, and Wong Chun-Fung. "Sound Analysis of Longitudinal Vibrations of Qin Strings." In The Legend of Silk and Wood: A Hong Kong Qin Story, 96-105. Hong Kong: Hong Kong Heritage Museum, 2014.
Chun Yan TSE, and Shui Fong LAM . Translation of The Xishan Treatise on the Aesthetics of Qin Music by Xu Shangying. Renditions, no. 83 (2015): 89-111.
朱載堉在《樂律全書》，創立了似是由 "側商調" 省去商音的 "宮、角、變徵、羽、變宮" 音階。經重新排列，這與《明集禮》宮廷樂曲曾使用的 "宮、商、清商、徵、羽" 的音程結構相若。此類 "含變音" 五聲音階調性不明確，可能與具爭議的清商三調有關。此音階在清初仍有承傳，至乾隆貶低朱載堉，承傳才中斷。朱載堉省去商音，是基於對周朝音樂的歷史想像；乾隆只用五正聲，似是關乎五正聲帶來的正統身份象徵。這顯示意識形態對宮廷音樂傳播變化的重要性。
透過測音研究，顯示七律揚琴低音部分的音律類似傳統十二律制，中高音部分則接近七平均律，但各音程稍有參差，不是完全平均，令正線旋律仍有傳統律制的影子。據丘鶴儔《琴學新編》，七律揚琴能在 "四盆" 之間轉換，苦喉即士工線。本文分析了苦喉與士工線的關係，推論當其他不固定音高樂器與揚琴合奏時，可能會因應樂曲的調式而把樂音微調。如果士工線旋律傾向傳統羽調，其他樂器可以把正線的 "乙" (即士工線的 "上" )奏得稍低；如果旋律屬苦喉 (或 "特殊的羽調")，可以把正線的 "乙" 奏得稍高。這活的律制沒有什麼理論根據，只是約定俗成，不適宜強稱為 "七平均律"，簡單稱為 "粵樂七律" 可能更好。這並不貶低其藝術意義，反而令粵樂更具地區色彩。