Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Re-Visioning Guqin Performance through Interface Design, Digital Measurement, and Signal Processing

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posted on 2022-07-28, 01:21 authored by He, Jingyin

The guqin is the oldest Chinese stringed instrument with a history of over 3000 years. The most distinct characteristics of the instrument are the fluid modulation of pitch, and the dynamics and timbre in the tones created by the combination of the left and right hand finger techniques, which require many years for mastery of their execution and application. Most guqin research remains limited to its history, aesthetics, philosophy, sonic properties and notation system. Despite its long history and rich literature, much remains to be discovered about the embodied relationship between the intricacies of ancillary and auxiliary movements of master musicians and their rich colour, timbre and subtle nuances in sound.

This research addresses the significance of guqin hand gestures, and presents an approach for re-visioning guqin performance: firstly, by developing a physical gesture acquisition system to investigate the guqin music tradition through the measurement of hand gesture techniques; secondly, by exploring the compositional and performative potential of the developed acquisition system as a musical interface, and how guqin playing schema can evoke new amalgams of electro-instrumental music; and thirdly, by utilizing the enhanced understanding of guqin hand gestures to guide the design and development of new musical interfaces. These objectives define the re-visioning of guqin performance, and are described and detailed throughout this document. The implications of this research include preserving and inheriting guqin playing styles; supplementing and advancing pedagogy; revitalizing guqin music tradition through technological means; and utilizing the embodied performer-instrument relation to advance the state of the art in human-mechatronic musical interaction.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Sonic Arts and Engineering

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

New Zealand School of Music


Murphy, Jim; Carnegie, Dale; Kapur, Ajay