This textbook on playing the guqin—a seven-stringed plucked instrument in some ways similar to the zither—is one volume in the Easy Steps to Chinese Musicseries. It was made possible through the collaborative efforts of Li Xiangting and Zhao Xiaoxia, who together created the outline. Zhao Xiaoxia then compiled the chapters. Giving full consideration to overseas learners’ basic knowledge of Chinese music, this book is written succinctly and is easy to understand, enabling straight-forward imitation, learning and comprehension. Guqin music entails specific names for the playing action of the thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers, each of which has different performance requirements. These can be learned through the book’s explanations and specially designed exercises.
The unique structure of this musical instrument and its complex performance techniques, as well as the distinctive features of the music composed for it, make impossible any systematic practice of set exercises that could be applicable to the wide range of the compositions played on the guqin. Therefore, the book refrains from overwhelming learners with a multitude of exercises for learning difficult techniques. Instead, it singles out difficult sequences requiring repeated practice at decelerated speeds. Such an established method of guqin instruction that developed over millennia has so far proven effective.