On the 22nd September 2011 I will be performing a guqin recital at The 90 Day Café in Birmingham at 5pm, the day before it closes for good. Here is the programme (which includes a new composition by me):
1. 《秋風詞》 Qiu Feng Ci – Ode of the Autumn Wind
From the Guqin Quji (1962), adapted from the Mei’an Qinpu (1912)
Autumn arrives and the leaves fall. The wind scatters them.
2. 《平沙落雁》 Pingsha Luoyan – Wild Geese Descending on the Sandbank
From the Jiao’an Qinpu (1868)
The wild geese fly through the air. Ascending and descending across the sandy shores.
3. 《湘妃怨》 Xiangfei Yuan – Lament of the Concubine
Transcribed by Wu Jinglue
Your soul mate passes on and you weep tears of grief that stain the bamboo red.
4. 《龝水》 Qiu Shui – Autumn Water
From the Tianwen Ge Qinpu (1876), transmitted by Zeng Chengwei
Transforming into the divine, like a butterfly emerging from its cocoon.
5. 《碧澗流泉》 Bijian Liuquan – Flowing Spring of the Green Brook
From Wuxue Shanfung Qinpu (1836), transmitted by Dai Xiaolian
The spring flows through the valleys and ravines over the lush and green stones.
6. 《滄江夜雨》 Cangjiang Yeyu – Night Rain on the Azure River
From the Chengyi Tang Qinpu (1705)
The moon reflects upon the dark blue waters then the rain breaks the reflection into stars.
7. 《酒狂》 Jiu Kuang – Drunken Ecstasy
From the Shenqi Mipu (1425)
Taking of wine, in a scholarly way.
8. 《陽關三疉》 Yangguan Sandie – Three Refrains on the Yang Pass Theme
From the Guqin Quji (1962), adapted from the Qinxue Rumen (1864)
Exiled beyond the Yang Pass, you persuade your friend to take one more cup of wine before they depart.
9. 《良宵引》 Liangxiao Yin – Prelude to a Fine Evening
From the Guqin Quji (1962), adapted from the Wuzhi Zhai Qinpu (1722)
A fine and warm evening with a gentle breeze.
10. 《九旬》 Jiu Xun – 90 Days
Composed by Charles Rupert Tsua (2011)
The composition is called 《九旬》 Jiu Xun (90 Days). It was called Jiushi Tian (九十天) which means the same thing but xun (旬) means a ten day period (thus 9 x 10 days) and is more elegant than the modern sounding one (thanks to Juni Yeung for this suggestion). The traditional guqin tablature score is below (unless you can read qin notation and tablature, you won’t understand any of it save maybe the Chinese characters, numerals and radicals dotted about). The whole idea behind it is to have a changsuo chain of nine sounds of the same note in a specified sequence played nine times throughout the piece which makes 81. Add the beisuo chain of three sounds played thrice and that brings the total to 90. This composition is far better than the ones I composed many years ago and were ‘experimental’ in their nature. This is an actual coherent melody with a proper structure and use of motifs compared to the ones I did in the past. It is rather short given the time span I had to compose and learn it.
It is three sections long with an open string coda. It is in the yu (羽) or ‘la’ mode of standard tuning.
Qin tablature is basically a description of how a piece is played rather than prescriptive of the notes, rhythm and tempo played (as it is in Western staff notation). Much of its interpretation lies in the skill and ability of the player to transcribe the score into a playable form and everyone is different at that. That’s the beauty of this system: after many years, nay centuries, of continuous interpretation, you can get something different and the score could change though the main gist would still be present. This isn’t like Western music where everything is set down almost in stone but an ever flowing and changing music that is free from ‘composer constraint’. Hence why we have over 40 different versions of Pingsha Luoyan!