Moon over the Mountain Pass

This piece from the MeiAn School 梅庵琴派, Moon over the Mountain Pass 關山月, alludes to the poem by Li Bai 李白 with the same title. This recording was made a few hours before the actual full moon, capturing its rise from behind San Bernardino Peak. 明月出天山,蒼茫雲海間。 長風幾萬里,吹度玉門關。 漢下白登道,胡窥青海灣。 由來征戰地,不見有人還。 戍客望邊邑,思歸多苦顏。 …

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Wild Geese Descending on Sandbanks

First published in 1634, the piece, Wild Geese Descending on Sandbanks 平沙落雁, became widely popular in subsequent centuries, existing in many variations and tunings. The music opens with an introduction of harmonic octaves partial scales, evoking the imagery of geese lining up, perhaps flying in formation through distant clouds. The …

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Lake Mead and Black Canyon

The slowly brightening sky casts an orange-pink glow on our campsite. After Brad, I’m the next to get up. Suddenly, the car horn wakes up the entire campsite. Max, who slept in the car, had set off the alarm; Brad, who held the keys, was off hiking by the lake. …

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Thanksgiving with Visitors from China

Thanksgiving lunch this year included new friends from China. Here, we stopped by the pond. From right to left: Chenhong Wang, Xiaoming Zhang, Suwen Yang, Zhongwu Jin, Mom, Dad, me, and Jack Tian.

Hollywood Sign Hike

The hike to the Hollywood Sign started at the end of Beachwood Drive, just by Sunset Ranch. The horses from the ranch dusted up the first part of the trail—not just from hoofs and horseshoes. After the fork to the left, it got much better. The midday sun was beating …

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Leaving Hangzhou

As usual, I woke up early yesterday. Packing occupied most of the morning. Then, Cai Hongxin came to my apartment and we chatted for a little bit. He brought me and my parents to tour the other bank of Qiantang River, along the new developments. We had a wonderful time …

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Church at MeiLiZhou

The MeiLiZhou Church is beautiful. After all, the name means “beautiful isle.” Sleek modern lines make up the contemporary campus, and stark natural maple decorate the inside. Engraved Ten Commandments hang on the front wall, illuminated by sunlight streaming in from the windows. Located as part of a resort, the …

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Sir Run Run Shaw Hospital 7th Academic Week

Having arrived in Hangzhou on the high speed train Wednesday afternoon, which was delayed by a few minutes, Drs. Cai Hongxin and Liu Chao picked me up at the station and got me situated at the Foreigners’ Residence. My parents arrived from Hong Kong and joined us at the warm …

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Visit to Huashan Hospital

From Shantou, I flew to Shanghai. Before coming to China, I had written Dr. Chen Shiyi, and I told him that I will be giving a shoulder talk at Sir Run Run Shaw Hospital, which will quote a paper he published a few years ago. He insisted that I visit …

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Ancestral Chaozhou

Sunday morning, on my first full day here, my dad and I walked around town and visited some of our relatives’ businesses. My mom’s older cousin is in the toy industry, and the younger runs a bicycle shop. It’s good to see that their business is really successful. My older …

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China Reunion

Between leaving home and arriving at my destination in China, the journey has taken 42 hours. It started off with a shuttle to LAX, leaving at 8:00 Thursday morning. I arrived in plenty of time, checked in, and had Panda Express for brunch. The plane, which looks like it has …

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Seagulls

This piece is titled Seagulls and Forgetting Schemes 鷗鷺忘機. The story originates from a passage in the Han dynasty text Liezi 列子. Therein, a seafarer finds that that seagulls have no fear until he intends to catch them to bring home. Like rolling waves, initial series of harmonic glissandi invite …

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Salt Creek Beach Barbeque

After church, we had a lunch barbeque at Dana Point’s Salt Creek Beach. On the menu were Grillers burgers and salt & vinegar chips. Many friends brought specialty dishes as well. The water was warmer than usual, and the climate was perfect. I went for a run along the beach …

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Tenth Guqin Lesson

At my tenth lesson, my teacher gave me this piece to learn. It is the slightly shortened version of Pu’an Zhou 普庵咒. Apparently, the full version is extremely repetitious. As it is, this is the longest piece that I’ve played. The earliest form was published in 1592 and later printed …

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Touring the San Andreas Fault

We’re having Alex and Nicolas visit from Europe as part the American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons’ traveling fellowship. Chris arranged for us to take a tour of the San Andreas Fault, sponsored by the San Bernardino County Museum and led by Kathleen Springer. Our first stop took us by Lost …

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Summoning the Wind and Thunder

Like my most recent pieces, this composition, Summoning the Wind and Thunder 風雷引, is from the collection of the Mei’an guqin handbook 梅庵琴譜 and uses the lowered third string tuning. As with most pieces of the Mei’an tradition of briskly paced rhythm, this song employs unison and octave chords to …

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Bergamot Station with Stuart Green

Today’s excursion took my brother and me to Bergamot Station to visit Stuart Green’s show. This exhibit highlights some of the key points of color theory. Dr. Green’s self-directed study of color theory—much influenced by Feininger, Itten, Albers, and faculty members of the Bauhaus School of Design—led him to take …

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Autumn Evening Moorings

Also in the Shang tuning mode 商調 and from the Mei’an handbook 梅庵琴譜, this piece, Autumn Evening Moorings 秋江夜泊,  is a tonal painting depicting Su Dongpo’s 蘇東坡 (1037–1101) poem of the Red Cliffs 前赤壁賦. The site was where he thought the famous battle took place in the winter of AD …

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The Phoenix Seeks His Mate

This next piece, The Phoenix Seeks His Mate 鳳求凰, is an introduction to playing in the Shang tuning mode 商調 and is of the Mei’an school of guqin playing 梅庵琴派. The story of this song is about the poet Sima Xiangru 司馬相如 (179–113 BC) as recorded in the Shi Ji 史記. …

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Bagging San Bernardino Peak

It started from a Facebook invitation, where I basically invited everyone who I thought would be interested in going. We all met in the Allen Way cul-de-sac just before 6:00 this morning and drove to the parking lot. There were orthopaedic residents, Ben, Mark with Sarah, and Lucas; medical students, …

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Leoni Meadows and San Antonio

This past week involved a lot of traveling. Instead of lugging around my dSLR, I decided to use my iPad. It generally took good pictures, but the dynamic range seems much lower than I’d like. I left Tuesday afternoon, after surgeries, and flew to Sacramento. From there, I rented a …

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Jobes’ Bees

Chris readies the smoke to subdue the bees. He dons the bee suit, and I put on the head and face protection. We head over to the grove. Chris injects some smoke into the hive, and we crack the lid open. The bees suddenly become very active, but we’re both …

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Spring Dawn at the Jade Tower

Like the two previous pieces, Tune of Utmost Joy and Three Repetitions at Yang Pass, Spring Dawn at the Jade Tower 玉樓春曉 is based on the RuiBin 蕤賓 tuning mode. The origin is from the MeiAn school of guqin playing 梅庵琴派, which is part of my teacher’s tradition. The tune …

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