Yu-Ku-Chai Ch'in handbook cover page

Yu-Ku-Chai translation - introduction

The Yu-Ku-Chai translation is now available as a book from lulu.com. Please see: "Abiding With Antiquity". The book has several advantages over the older work on this page including many fewer typos, and a small amount of new material. Of course it is also nice to just have a published book.

This web page provides access to an on-line English language translation version of part of the Yu-Ku-Chai Ch'in-Pu. It is mostly concerned with the Yu-Ku-Chai translation and not other ch'in matters. (In pinyin, the romanization would be Yuguzhai qinpu. The translation was started in the days of the Wade Giles romanization system. Some newer parts of the translation will be in pinyin). It is hoped that the translation will be useful to ch'in students and scholars as well.

Please see:

chin urls

for interesting Internet ch'in links elsewhere and qin music too.

From the introduction: "Yu-ku-chai-ch'in-p'u is a handbook on the gu-ch'in, the Chinese seven-stringed zither, published in 1855 in Fukien province by the ch'in-master Chu Feng-chieh. Yu-ku-chai literally means "abiding with the ancients studio" and is the name of the studio where Chu studied the ch'in. Ch'in-p'u is a technical term describing a variety of book usually devoted to tablature of ch'in melodies; that is, a book that described how to play music pieces via fingering symbols. However Yu-ku-chai is an unusual handbook in that it deals with ch'in music theory, construction techniques, the "care and feeding" of ch'in (tuning, ch'in tables, strings, stringing, finger notation) and other related matters, and does not contain any music.

The translation was started in the 70's by Jim Binkley with the help of others and was originally aimed at translating only volume 2 of the YKC that is concerned with ch'in construction. The YKC has four volumes. Volume 1 is on pitch theory, and will remain untranslated at least by me. Volume 2 is on ch'in construction and is translated. Volume 3 is on ch'in accouterments, and parts of it have been translated, while other parts remain untranslated. Volume 4 is on fingering and for the most part has been translated barring some short introductory sections. See the introduction below for more information.

For each "chapter" there is one HTML file, one postscript file, and one .doc file. The postscript and original doc files have also been collected together in zip archives for easy download.

I am currently working on translating those parts of the original YGC manuscript also found in the popular late Ch'ing Ch'in-Hsueh-Ru-Men (Qinxuerumen) handbook (which may be viewed as an edited extension of the YKC handbook), as well as a few bits of Volume 3 that strike my fancy. Ch'in-Hsueh-Ru-Men has in it two volumes. Volume one is the parts that its author took out of the YKC because he deemed them useful to students. Volume two is music, which is by definition not found in the YKC, but it probably came from the Zhu family manuscripts. At this time the major parts of volume 4 on fingering are complete and available. Also some new parts of volume 3 are translated as well, although there is much from volume 3 that has not been translated. The translation is currently on the order of 180 pages printed out.

Fonts and Formats

For now html, postscript, and .doc files (word 2003) are available for all sections. So there are three formats available for viewing the translation at the moment. I may eventually get rid of html as it does not always work (fails sometimes in terms of picture layout).

The html version (and doc files) use unicode for Chinese characters. As a test, if you can view, chinese.yahoo.com , you should be able to view the html pages below.

Useful urls to help out here in making on-line Chinese unicode work, include mandarintools , and chinesecomputing .

Postscript is provided. You may be able to download this and print it on a printer. It is best printed, as opposed to viewed on-line. A useful tool for viewing and printing postscript on Window's systems is gsview. See gsview for more information.

Last but not least, the word files are available as individual files or in a zip archive below. Also if you want to browse an individual directory because you want to get an individual file, that is doable. For example, http://www.cs.pdx.edu/~jrb/chin/v21 will get you into Volume 2, Chapter 1, and you may choose individual files at that point. With most browsers, use right-click to download an individual file (save link as). The chapters are stored in directories as given in the Table of Contents below. For example, Volume 2, Chapter 1, is v21, etc.

"Abiding with Antiquity",
Yu-ku-chai ch'in-pu on-line chapters:


Qin making blog

This could happen to you if you read the Yuguzhai.

Various qinpu as pdfs

Various qinpu as pdfs including most of the Guqinjicheng, the Yuguzhai qinpu, and others can be found here. These are in Chinese of course.