T of C 
Qin as
Qin in
/ Song
Analysis History Ideo-
Personal email me search me
John Thompson     research room     Repertoire 首頁
Origins of this website
The focus of this website is
my work with the guqin silk-string zither. I began studying the qin in Taiwan in 1974, learning from my teacher Sun Yuqin most of the guqin repertoire played at that time. Of those 17 pieces, 11 can trace their earliest published forms to Ming dynasty handbooks. Since leaving Taiwan my work has mostly been with music as published during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). The qin players and melodies introduced here mostly date from that period and earlier. Later melodies and players are usually mentioned in that they have relevance to my personal focus.

The present website, www.silkqin.com, came online in March 2003, succeeding the earlier site www.iohk.com/UserPages/thompson/. The initial impetus for that original site was a grant awarded to me in January 1996 by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, specifically to assist in publishing a digital recording, with accompanying commentary and transcriptions, of one of my guqin music reconstruction projects. That project eventually led to the publication of Music Beyond Sound. The original website was hosted by IOHK, Hong Kong; though long inactive and virtually empty, sometimes Google searches mistakenly reference that site rather than the present one.

Before this website came into being I kept much of my work on file cards and in handwritten notebooks, the latter replaced after 1990 by computer document files in Word. The initial appeal of putting this information online was that it immediately became much more easily searchable. It is for this reason that this website has resembled somewhat a blog, with me immediately putting most of my research online so as to take advantage of the indexing and search potential, as well as to inform others and solicit reactions that will help improve this site.

Web statistics say that since I began adding sound files in 2007 this site has averaged over 9000 hits per day; the great majority are people/sites in China accessing the sound files via intermediate sites (no information on whether they know who is playing or for how long they listen).

The main parts of my research that are not yet online are as follows:

  1. A number of recordings that I have made; most of these are already available on the CDs listed here (there are also a number of melodies that I play but have not yet recorded)
  2. Numerous transcriptions into staff notation; in addition to staff notation for all my recordings (over 180 pieces), there are also many pieces for which I have transcriptions but not yet recordings. Perhaps most important among these is all the music in Wusheng Qinpu (1457) and Taigu Yiyin (1511). Almost all of these were done in the computer transcription program Encore, but there are also a few still only handwritten.
  3. Charts tracing melodies from their initial publication. Many of these are already online (sample). However, most of these originated as charts within Word documents and I have not yet converted these to .html files.
  4. Annotations in the photocopies of the Ming dynasty handbooks from which I work.

Regarding the tracing charts it may be noted that these generally include links showing the page numbers of the original tablatures within their respective handbooks. However, since I have put online the Table of Contents only for the Ming dynasty handbooks, this specific information is available here only through the Ming dynasty. In the charts the handbook titles are generally only given in Chinese; people who don't read Chinese but have an interest in this should be able to overcome this problem by printing a copy of a list such as "Surviving Qin Handbooks" and using that as a reference.

Return to Performances or to the Guqin ToC