THE SONG OF THE FORM

Postby tai1chi » Fri Sep 03, 2004 4:33 pm

Hi Psalchemist,

You asked:

"Do you think we can disregard the origins and still be authentic, in this instance?
If it were focused on the scales of today and the form from today...would these two factors not be harmonious together?"

Well, imho, that's the problem. Thinking of the individual "energies" as tones/vibrations/frequencies is different from seeing the form as a musical composition or assuming that the creators saw things the same way.

I think the forms are harmonious, Anyway, I don't think that the actual number of postures in a form can be counted. At best, one can count the "rests", pauses or stopping points. Those might be considered your "measures".

There have been traditional ways to divide forms. After the "13" movements, the "8 gates" and "5 steps", the long form ws divided into "6 roads". Nowadays, the tendency is to divide long forms into three sections. Short forms are, iirc, mostly divided into two. Usually, certain forms mark these divisions. But, you know that from your own form, no?

Oh well, there are plenty of ways to analyze and categorize one's form (any form). It'll be interesting to hear what you come up with after you analyze your own.

cheers,
Steve James
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Postby Audi » Mon Sep 06, 2004 12:27 pm

Hi Steve,

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">There have been traditional ways to divide forms. After the "13" movements, the "8 gates" and "5 steps", the long form ws divided into "6 roads".</font>


I am curious about your reference to "6 roads." I think I have occasionally seen similar statesments elsewhere, but was not sure what to make of them.

I know that Chen Style has two forms that are usually described in Chinese by the term "lu," which means road; but these are complete forms. Some authorities talk about other "forms" (maybe as many as six) that were either lost over the centuries or combined to form the two that are practiced today.

Are you saying that the traditional Yang Style form was divided into six parts? If so, do you know where the divisions were in the form? Was this a mere teaching convenience, or did it have some other significance?

Take care,
Audi
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Postby tai1chi » Mon Sep 06, 2004 4:40 pm

Hi Audi,

you asked:

"about your reference to "6 roads." I think I have occasionally seen similar statesments elsewhere ... [snip]

I know that Chen Style has two forms that are usually described in Chinese by the term "lu," which means road; but these are complete forms. Some authorities talk about other "forms" (maybe as many as six) that were either lost over the centuries or combined to form the two that are practiced today."

You're right to point out the distinction. The "Old Six Routines" (Lao Liu Lu), sometimes called "Old Six Branches" are/were separate routines (forms, not just choreography). Whether they were lost or not will depend on who one listens to. Wei Shuren mentions them. Iirc, Yang Zhenji does as well. The implication that some make, though, is that these were/are very short forms (or series of movements). They weren't the same as the movements that compose most of the forms we see today. That's where we'll start to get into a big controversy. I.e., the organization of most of the forms that are around --except, of course, the Chen-- is based on the Yang Chengfu "standard" --which was divided into 3 parts, as you know.

"Are you saying that the traditional Yang Style form was divided into six parts?"

Nope, it was my misleading statement. The traditional form, in this sense, is the YCF form. However, you know that there are those who'll give reasons why it isn't the traditional Yang form. Clearly, there are other variations within the family, and were so even during YCF's time, and which he acknowledged. He specifically mentions, for example, some things that his uncles did that he did not (in "Questions and Answers" with Chen Weiming).

"If so, do you know where the divisions were in the form? Was this a mere teaching convenience, or did it have some other significance?"

No, but it is probably worthwhile to explore the logic behind the organization of the different sections. Section Two has movements that are different from those in Sections 1 and 3. Anyway, some would argue that each movement contains a transition that comprises an entire system.

Well, in this musical context, there are "refrains" that make up the "hook" or theme of the whole composition. I suppose that if one knows the theme by heart, the rest of the piece falls into place. There is even a chance for improvisation and creative experimentation.

cheers,
Steve James
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Postby psalchemist » Sat Oct 02, 2004 2:15 am

Greetings Everyone,

I am very sorry for the extended delay in my response.

All these points have been reeling around,
Unable to obtain any fixed, concrete terms...
Very abstract, still, to my thoughts.
I have been hoping for some type of revelation,
To not have to respond with an empty post...
Alas, to no avail.

I am still in the process of considering,
all of the points presented, below,
Which are all excellent suggestions, facts and thoughts...
And which will have to be pondered in depth,
and factored into a summary,
At least in my mind,
Before I will be able to attempt concretization of this project in any sense.

This might take years...
A greater feel for the art of Tai~Chi,
some further musical instruction,
besides the task of delving into I~Chings complex interpretations of the bagua energies,
and considering meridians and chakras and the respective arts which accompany them...
Giant steps I am, from being in a position to assess these shrewd facts, really.

**************************************************************

STEVE JAMES:A scale has 13 notes, if one counts the repeated base note. I could imagine translating each "energy" into a note.

STEVE JAMES:From my perspective, the idea of "8 and 5" seem most applicable. For ex., there are 8 white keys separated by 5 black ones on a keyboad. That's true for any "octave" or set of notes.

STEVE JAMES:what are the "steps" or distance between each note? What is a "sharp"? Is it different than a "flat".

STEVE JAMES:there's no such thing as a pure tone; and that all tones (notes) have overtones (at specific intervals) that occur and are necessary.

STEVE JAMES:Thinking of the individual "energies" as tones/vibrations/frequencies is different from seeing the form as a musical composition...

STEVE JAMES:If there is a connection between tones and tcc energies. 13 tones: 13 energies; how can they be arranged? Are the way they are arranged similar to the arrangement of the "bamen" and "wubu" as we find them in tcc literature? Imho, it's too much to assume that they have a one to one correlation.

JAMIE:One idea that may be useful(I don't know that much about music other than how to read it) is to consider each posture as more than one note.

ONENOC: one could assign, instead of single notes to energies, interval combinations, rhythmic patterns, or textures, and still have a music that has an aspect which is largely influenced by the energies.

ONENOC: (Textures can refer to two things. Firstly, whether some music is monophonic (just a melody), homophonic (melody harmonized, more or less), or polyphonic (two or more distinct melodies being played simultaneously). Or, texture can simply refer to density of notes.)

ONENOC: you describe a translation of the form's movements "into their respective musical notations." There are actually an infinite number of ways of translating this, either formulaically or otherwise.

DPASEK: I would first ask, exactly how many discrete postures are there in the form? The answer to this question will constrain the design of the translation method.It's easy to map each of 13 postures to a particular frequency, duration, etc. If there are actually 10000+ postures, a different approach is necessary.

STEVE JAMES:I don't think that the actual number of postures in a form can be counted. At best, one can count the "rests", pauses or stopping points. Those might be considered your "measures".

STEVE JAMES:But I don't think it would be "musical" or harmonious, unless one artificially made it so. By artificial, I mean, let's make "Peng" equivalent to middle C. You make "Lu" = C# (sharp) or Bb (B-flat). That might make some sense, since usually notes that are only a half-tone apart are discordant when played simultaneously. Well, we could then make "An" equivalent to the note D (after/above C). Then "Ji" could be D#. Seems to work fine, but clearly the relationship of Peng to Lu is not the same as that of An to Ji.But it's here where we start to have bigger problems. The next note "E" is naturally harmonic with "C.

ONENOC: you could completely ignore the so-called rules of traditional western harmony, which is common practice nowadays in circles of classical composers, and do something akin to what tai1chi describes. One could still produce great music in this way, depending on the definition of great music.

STEVE JAMES:But, which energy should we apply it to? Advance? Well, we advance when we do Peng and Ji and, as you noted on you comments in another thread about "to and fro", in (1/2?) of any form. So, that would imply that "E" would be in half the chords.

STEVE JAMES:we might need to use the Chinese musical scale, which also had some basis in mathematics. The Han might have used a similar scale (i.e., an octave with 12 notes), but their ideas about harmonics might not (no one knows 'for sure') be the same as our contemporary sense.

STEVE JAMES:It might also be true that we would need to understand a lot more about their science and the aesthetics of that time. For ex., the notes we call A, B, C, etc., are not the same (in terms of their actual vibrations in Mhz) as the same notes of 200 years ago and less.

STEVE JAMES:I think the Chinese did see a relation between mathematics and music and cosmologic theories. Making music from the "energies" will require a particular view of how they work together --that one might have to make up for oneself.

ONENOC: I must say one thing, however. A translation as you describe may not be possible, because just by assigning any texture, rhythmic pattern, accompanimental figuration, interval, or tone to an energy you have already delved deep into the realm of interpretation. Who is to say that the rhythmic pattern assigned is the correct one.It seems that you're looking at the Tai Chi form as a code of energies (I could be wrong here). Therefore, one would essentially be writing music to a code, assigning something or the other to each element of the code, and repeating that something at the repetition of each element. But assigning that something alone is an interpretation in and of itself. And, the way "somethings" are assigned to elements of the code must almost surely allow for some freedom of composition in order to produce a musically rewarding piece (yes, I'll admit that musically rewarding is a subjective term which I've used in a rather free manner).

STEVE JAMES:However, Psalchemist also brought in the I Ching, etc., and that inevitably brings up mathematics. One reason I thought you'd be interested in the link I posted was because of it's reference to Pythagoras. There is a definite relation between the length of a string and the vibration it produces. If you looked at the body as a set of strings --which of course need something solid to allow the control of that vibration and to produce a sound.

JAMIE:There's a book - "Tai Chi Chuan and the I Ching" by Da Liu that gives a good account of the trigrams and hexagrams for each posture.

JAMIE:The energy movement along each meridian during a movement passes though various points - could you assign musical equivalents to these points?

JAMIE: Maybe look at at an overlay of the chakra system (very similar to Chinese system)- assigning notes the those points.

JAMIE:One other idea is the tempo of the Taiji form - not always even, there are gradual changes of pace that could somehow be noted and utilized in your project.>Jamie

ONENOC: Interval combinations: one could, among other things, set that whenever a certain energy occurs, then one will harmonically hear a certain interval.

ONENOC: This can also be done melodically. That is, one could have a rising major seventh every time "peng" occurs. These are just a few possibilities.

ONENOC: Rhythmic patterns in this sense do not need to refer to accompaniment. For instance, an energy could be associated with dotted eights, and whenever that energy surfaces, the listener then hears many dotted eights, whether in the context of the main melody (assuming there is one, as there may not be) or accompanimental figures.

DPASEK:Chinese physicians apparently assigned various musical scales to the five phases/elements (wuxing) during the 1980's and now CD's are for sale to aide in the treatment of patients based on these theories.
Earth is assigned to the Gong scale (Key of C),
Metal to Shang (D),
Wood to Jue (E),
Fire to Zhi (G),
and Water to Yu (A)
Therefore music designed to aid recovery from a weakened Earth condition would be predominantly in the key of C although it would modulate on occasion to the key of G (since Fire is the mother/creates Earth according to the relationships of the wuxing), etc..

DPASEK:If you wanted to base a song on the movements of Taijiquan, it would be reasonable to set it in the key of C (since this represents Earth which represents Central Equilibrium in Taijiquan, the energy that is maintained throughout the form).

DPASEK:Every shift of weight and turn of the waist could then be assigned to the other elements/phases to produce a musical sequence.

DPASEK:Adding the eight energies associated with the bagua (bamen) would be much more difficult. My only suggestion would be to assign Peng to Qinggong (still key of C but one octave higher) because Peng, like Central Equilibrium, is maintained throughout the form.

STEVE JAMES:There have been traditional ways to divide forms. After the "13" movements, the "8 gates" and "5 steps", the long form ws divided into "6 roads". Nowadays, the tendency is to divide long forms into three sections. Short forms are, iirc, mostly divided into two.

STEVE JAMES:Well, in this musical context, there are "refrains" that make up the "hook" or theme of the whole composition. I suppose that if one knows the theme by heart, the rest of the piece falls into place. There is even a chance for improvisation and creative experimentation.>Steve James
**********************************************************

Jamie,
Thank you for those original perspectives and ideas on how to go about researching such a matter.
I think they will be very instrumental tools in the seeking of.
And I appreciate, also, the reference for the IChing translations,
I shall look for it.

DPasek,
I think you ask a key question when querying the number postures,
and the validity at attempting assignment of them to sounds...
Of paramount importance...

The information you supplied concerning the wubu,
and the new sound science is intriguing.
It is something of a break~through for me to hear this.
Beyond my expectations.
Most certainly very usefull.

And thank you for your thoughtfull speculations,
On the possible key of Tai~Chi.

Onenoc,
You too mentioned the infinite possibility in the form postures.
Something to be resolved, surely.

Thank you for the musical instructions,
Your explanations were very usefull and thoughtfull.

Steve James,
How can I begin to thank you for your help on this project?
You have set a fine foundation,
With multitudes of fascinating thoughts,
and knowledge,
To move things right along.
I can see how there is a must be needs for interpretation,
And delving into the history of the Chinese cultures of music and Tai~Chi would be pertinent.

Once again Thank you to you all for your advices.
and,
Once again, I do apologize for the lengthy pause.

Thank you,
Best regards,
Psalchemist.


[This message has been edited by psalchemist (edited 10-01-2004).]
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Postby DPasek » Tue Oct 12, 2004 3:46 pm

Psalchemist wrote: "This might take years...A greater feel for the art of Tai~Chi, some further musical instruction..."

Since you are talking possibly years prior to being able to delve into this project, let me suggest some ideas that could be used to simplify the task to some degree or to do parts of it now while leaving the more difficult parts to the future when you have a more complete understanding of the form and/or music theory. Since you are interested in doing this for Yang style and will undoubtedly approach it differently than I would, let me instead use Chen style in my illustration. Feel free to use or reject any of these ideas as you see fit.

First I would need to decide whether I wanted to compose the music in (A) real time to match some performance, or to (B) do a more abstract composition (or both).

(A) Real Time: The benefit would be that this would be a more realistic representation corresponding to a particular performance of the form; but I personally never perform the routine twice quite the same way (tempo, pacing, emphasis, expression, etc.), and I assume this also holds true for my teachers. By setting the music to a DVD performance by Chen Zhenglei (my teacher for this form) I may get at least an interesting sound track for it, and could possibly use it to accompany my own performance of the form to get a better feel for his performance characteristics (tempo…), with the added benefit of possibly having the musical characteristics (vibrations representing energies…) enhance the feelings obtained while performing the form. This real time score would not have the flexibility of actual variable performances and would be horrible to do in musical notation due to irregular tempo, etc., and may not allow sufficient time per move to include all the musical representations desired.

(B) Abstract: This would allow the choice of a consistent rhythm (perhaps that of a heartbeat?) throughout the composition, and would allow setting whatever length (number of measures) to use for each posture as works best for the concepts attempting to be represented by the music. For the rhythm, I would try about 110bpm since Greg Mucci's study of Taijiquan practitioners (published in Tai Chi Magazine, Aug. 1998, Volume 13, #4) gives this as the average pulse rate in this study for the participants during the performance of their form (actually 114bpm average for 6 men and 107bpm for 3 women).
I would probably start with option (A), real time, as the results of that would probably give me an indication of what parameters would be good to try for option (B), abstract.

Next I would set the foundation for the music by using chords to indicate all weight changes and waist turns. As the foundation of the form comes from the wubu (five steps: advance, retreat, gaze right, look left, and central equilibrium), and these correspond to the wuxing (five phases/elements) which correspond to five different chords [see earlier post], this should be fairly easy to do without much specialized knowledge. As Earth/Central Equilibrium is the constant throughout the form and corresponds to the Key of C, this would be the key of the song. Anytime that the music needs to resolve, the C chord could be returned to, it could be used whenever balance is emphasized (as in one-leg stances), and it could be used during transitions in the movements. Variations could include volume changes depending on the degree of waist turn or weight shift (e.g. one-leg = 100/0 (or 0/100) weight distribution could be the loudest, 50/50 weight distribution could be half volume, and 60/40, 70/30, 80/20 and 90/10 could be in-between in a relative manner). One could try starting out with Major triads for the chords, but I suspect Minor chords would sound more "Eastern", but it would probably be best to research the chord structures used in traditional Chinese music and follow their conventions.

The melody could be assigned to notes representing the eight energies/applications and be an octave above the chords. Like you, however, I do not know which musical notes to assign to which expression of energy (except probably using C for "ward-off"). Notes corresponding to the root notes of the chords mentioned above could then be used to resolve the music, or during transitions, in a manner similar to the C chord as suggested above. Of course the C note could also be used wherever it could aid the composition as the structural integrity of "ward-off" occurs throughout the form. Other melodic considerations could include having a brief rest after postures early in the form since CZL taught us to settle into distinct endings in the early sections of the routine, whereas later sections emphasize flow and thus do not have those distinct endings - musically represented by the lack of those rests later in the routine (perhaps also making the notes more legato). Expressions of fajin could be more staccato, and be louder, or could be emphasized with percussion (gong, cymbals, drum beats, etc.). My Chen style training and understanding is that all eight energies/applications are included, at various points, within almost every circle, and Chen style constantly uses the principle of the circle in the routine, so it would be possible to cycle through these notes repeatedly throughout the routine. Certain places, however, emphasize or explicitly express certain of the energies/applications, and these could be musically louder then the more subdued/implied places.

It would probably be best to use traditional Chinese instruments, but since I don't have access to (or the skills to play) them, I would probably start by using synthesized sounds. It may be desirable to use different lead instruments for the six sections (as taught by CZL) of the form. For example, plucked strings may be used for the early sections with the clearly defined endings as mentioned above, while bowed strings may be more suited for the sections where many of the same moves are repeated but where flow is emphasized. Other choices could be reeds, brass, wind (e.g. flute), tuned percussion (e.g. xylophone), etc.

In one section of an insert for a CD collection of Chinese music that I have, Shan Wen Tong (with Elyn & Mika Macinnis) wrote that "Qi was thought to be the wind of heaven, producing twelve pitches that correspond to the months of the year." This information may be worth pursuing for help in determining which tones to associate with the postures/applications since the months are associated with the cyclical arrangement of the trigrams which are in turn associated with the eight applications/gates (bamen). Later in the CD insert is a mention of "The Eight Sonorous Bodies," which are "based on the material from which they were made: metal, stone, silk, bamboo, gourd (calabash), clay (earth), skin (hide) and wood." And "Further information and explanations of the Eight Tones can be found in the 'Record of Music' from the ancient work Record of Rites." This may also be worth looking into.

You may also pick up some ideas from the latest two issues of the Journal of Asian Martial Arts (Vol. 13 #2&3) articles by Paz-y-Miño and Esponosa: "The rhythm of Aikido, Part I" and "Music principles applied to Aikido techniques, Part II."

Being both a musician and a martial artist (primarily Taijiquan), the information in this thread has been of interest to me, but I doubt that I would have the time or enthusiasm to pursue this further at this time. Psalchemist, I hope that this lengthy post is more of a help than a hindrance.

DP
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Postby tai1chi » Thu Oct 14, 2004 10:06 pm

Hi Psalchemist, DP,

Psalchemist, your comments are very kind, and I probably don't deserve them; but they are appreciated.

DP, I think, has suggested a brilliant solution to your idea. He wrote:

"It would probably be best to use traditional Chinese instruments, ... using synthesized sounds. It may be desirable to use different lead instruments for the six sections ..."

Of course! a synthesizer is the solution to your problem. DP's suggestions for organization (or arrangement) seems ideally suited for a computer. I'd suggest that you do a google search and find some free software to make the job easier. Set the key, the time signature, and the chords and melody can be generated as DP suggested.

It might be best to coordinate that with a set of pictures, something like making a score for a film.

It's a cool idea. Whether the result was intended by the founders can be debated later.

cheers,
Steve James
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Postby psalchemist » Sat Oct 16, 2004 12:58 am

Greetings DPasek,

Thank you for all the wonderfully insightfull suggestions.
I will certainly try to factor this all into consideration in the attempt.
Very helpfull indeed.

On the subject of chords you wrote:
<<I would set the foundation for the music by using chords to indicate all weight changes and waist turns. As the foundation of the form comes from the wubu (five steps: advance, retreat, gaze right, look left, and central equilibrium), and these correspond to the wuxing (five phases/elements) which correspond to five different chords [see earlier post], this should be fairly easy to do without much specialized knowledge.>>DPasek

Yes, this makes sense to me,
and I think it is what I shall begin with,
Thanks for starting me off.

I also appreciate your explanations for the basis in the key of C,
This also makes logical sense to me.

Your briefing of staccatto and legatto:
<<Other melodic considerations could include having a brief rest after postures early in the form since CZL taught us to settle into distinct endings in the early sections of the routine, whereas later sections emphasize flow and thus do not have those distinct endings - musically represented by the lack of those rests later in the routine (perhaps also making the notes more legato). >>DPasek

<<Expressions of fajin could be more staccato, and be louder, or could be emphasized with percussion (gong, cymbals, drum beats, etc.).>>DPasek

You also mentioned how this would work with individual instruments...all novel ideas to add to my list...Definitely something I shall have to observe in my form practice and attempt to respect in any transmissions scribed. Great points.

As a Yang practitioner, I am not familiar with the formalities of Fajin in Chen style form...Are there many points of Fajin in the form? In which postures?

About the melodies variations you wrote:
<<Variations could include volume changes depending on the degree of waist turn or weight shift (e.g. one-leg = 100/0 (or 0/100) weight distribution could be the loudest, 50/50 weight distribution could be half volume, and 60/40, 70/30, 80/20 and 90/10 could be in-between in a relative manner).>>DPasek

Something else I had not considered...A very important consideration... Image

***********************************************************
<<In one section of an insert for a CD collection of Chinese music that I have, Shan Wen Tong (with Elyn & Mika Macinnis) wrote that "Qi was thought to be the wind of heaven, producing twelve pitches that correspond to the months of the year." This information may be worth pursuing for help in determining which tones to associate with the postures/applications since the months are associated with the cyclical arrangement of the trigrams which are in turn associated with the eight applications/gates (bamen).>>DPasek

<< Later in the CD insert is a mention of "The Eight Sonorous Bodies," which are "based on the material from which they were made: metal, stone, silk, bamboo, gourd (calabash), clay (earth), skin (hide) and wood." And "Further information and explanations of the Eight Tones can be found in the 'Record of Music' from the ancient work Record of Rites." This may also be worth looking into.>>DPasek

<<You may also pick up some ideas from the latest two issues of the Journal of Asian Martial Arts (Vol. 13 #2&3) articles by Paz-y-Miño and Esponosa: "The rhythm of Aikido, Part I" and "Music principles applied to Aikido techniques, Part II." >>DPasek

Excellent leads and suggestions for me to follow,
Thank you very much for all your invaluable help.

One last point, you penned:
<< My Chen style training and understanding is that all eight energies/applications are included, at various points, within almost every circle, and Chen style constantly uses the principle of the circle in the routine, so it would be possible to cycle through these notes repeatedly throughout the routine. Certain places, however, emphasize or explicitly express certain of the energies/applications, and these could be musically louder then the more subdued/implied places. >>DPasek

Hmmm, I am not sure what you are describing...Could you please give me an idea of what would comprise a full circle in the Chen style form?


**************************************************************************

Hi Steve,

Thanks for your valuable thoughts,
and all the encouragement you have provided towards this endeavor.

I do have a few unexploited synthesizers...
But the prospect of putzing around, exploring, and noting from scratch,the old fashioned way, seems a little overwhelming.

Your idea of organizing audio, visual and notation
using a program designed for this is much more appealing and motivating.
It would certainly facilitate the process for me.
I will try to locate one.
If you happen to come across such a link on the net,
I would appreciate the tip.

Thank you both,
Best regards,
Psalchemist.
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Postby DPasek » Tue Oct 19, 2004 9:50 pm

Psalchemist,

Chen style is probably off topic for both this thread and this forum, but since it is my preferred style and since you asked…

In response to the questions: "As a Yang practitioner, I am not familiar with the formalities of Fajin in Chen style form...Are there many points of Fajin in the form? In which postures?"

The 1st routine (yi lu) is more about cultivating energy (and thus less fajin) than expressing it as is done in the 2nd routine (er lu, or pao chui/cannon fist), and my understanding is that it should be practiced at least 4x for every time the 2nd routine is practiced because of this. Also for the 1st routine, the xin jia (new frame) contains more fajin expression than the lao jia (old frame), at least as I learned them, although, since I learned these from different teachers I can't be certain of this as it may be due simply to individual differences. My understanding is that the new frame was modified to more accurately reflect how the moves would be done in actual application, and thus it would not be surprising for it to contain more expression of fajin than the old frame (for reasons similar to those discussed recently on the Yang fast form thread). It should not be surprising that the old frame 1st routine shares more similarities to Yang style than the others, and it could probably be practiced at a similar speed and expression of energy as Yang style without raising many eyebrows. But the 1st routine, new frame does have numerous places where fajin is commonly expressed. I started to make a list of where I typically express fajin in the Chen style xin jia yi lu, but there are more places than I would want to list here. Perhaps better would be for you to search out a video clip of a demonstration of Chen style xin jia yi lu and to see for yourself.

In response to the following: "One last point, you penned:
<< My Chen style training and understanding is that all eight energies/applications are included, at various points, within almost every circle, and Chen style constantly uses the principle of the circle in the routine, so it would be possible to cycle through these notes repeatedly throughout the routine. Certain places, however, emphasize or explicitly express certain of the energies/applications, and these could be musically louder then the more subdued/implied places. >>DPasek

Hmmm, I am not sure what you are describing...Could you please give me an idea of what would comprise a full circle in the Chen style form?"

Hmmm, this is a bit more difficult to describe than to demonstrate, but let me try to give a somewhat simplified explanation. The principle of the circle is probably easiest to see in the old frame 1st routine, but since you are not particularly familiar with Chen style, let me simplify it even farther by using the simple chansijin exercises that you may have seen for Chen style. There are many variations practiced, but let me use one common one as an illustration. Picture a circle with one hand (rather than two for simplicity sake) similar to the circle used in Yang style Cloud Hand posture. If you take the transition from Single Whip to Cloud Hand using only the right hand, and continue the body and hand motions without taking the closing step with feet together, then the resulting circling hand (with feet kept in place) and body shifts and waist turns would be very similar to a simple one-handed Chen style chansijin drill. Each circle of this hand would contain the potential for the eight energies/applications. The following would be my interpretation of where these energies could be manifested if desired (based on my own understandings of the energies and the Chen principles; any errors are solely my own as I have not been specifically shown this for this circle):

With the following dynamics stated from the Chen style perspective, the initial shift to the right leg (for Yang style going from Single Whip to Cloud Hand) would accompany a turning of the right palm towards the right. This could express An/Push energy. After the weight is finished transferring to the right, the left kua/hip joint is relaxed/settled accompanied by a sinking of the right elbow and the palm becoming more vertical. This could express Cai/Pluck/Pull-down energy. The weight shift to the left accompanied by the downward arcing hand toward the groin could express Lu/Roll-back energy. With the continuing shift to the left and the hand crossing the centerline of the body, the hand begins to turn inward to face the body and the energy in the forearm can be used to express Ji/Squeeze/Press (for someone used to expressing Ji as a two-handed technique, as many practitioners seem to do, this example may be difficult to visualize, but just try to imagine how it would be expressed using only one hand and I think this example would be understandable). As the weight finishes shifting to the left and the waist turns to the left, the right shoulder can express Kao/Shouldering against an opponent. As the body starts shifting back to the right leg and the waist starts turning to the right, the right elbow comes upward as the hand begins circling upwards. This could express Zhou/Elbowing energy. As the body and waist continue rightward the arm rises toward the top of the circle and the hand turns palm outward. This could express Peng/Ward-off energy (although the structural integrity of Peng would also occur throughout the circle). Lie/Split is more difficult to see in one-handed techniques, but it can also be expressed within this circle, depending on how the technique is actually applied in relation to an opponent. For example, where the Ji energy is explained above, if you continue control of an opponent's left arm such that your right elbow lines up with their left elbow, especially if their arm is straightened by the previous application of Lu, then Lei could be expressed to control them or to dislocate their elbow (the Lei push/pull force-couple would be: push = your elbow against theirs, and pull = your hand against their wrist); similarly, the shoulder could be used in a similar force-couple where Kao is explained above (push = your shoulder against their arm, shoulder, or back, and pull = your hand against their wrist). Another place where Lei could be expressed is where An is explained above if you had your right leg trapping behind their leg(s) (the force-couple would be push = your hand, forearm, upper arm, shoulder, or even your back, and pull = your right leg forcing them to trip and fall backwards to the ground).

I try to visualize these energies within any circle performed in the form, whether vertical or horizontal, one-handed or two (circling in the same or opposite directions), in front to the side or across the body, etc. I hope this clarifies the previous post, and I hope nobody minds a lengthy discussion of Chen style on this Yang style forum.

DP
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Postby psalchemist » Sat Oct 23, 2004 6:21 pm

Greetings DPasek,

Thank you for your reply to my questions.

{{In response to the following: "One last point, you penned:
<< My Chen style training and understanding is that all eight energies/applications are included, at various points, within almost every circle, and Chen style constantly uses the principle of the circle in the routine, so it would be possible to cycle through these notes repeatedly throughout the routine. Certain places, however, emphasize or explicitly express certain of the energies/applications, and these could be musically louder then the more subdued/implied places. >>DPasek
Hmmm, I am not sure what you are describing...Could you please give me an idea of what would comprise a full circle in the Chen style form?"

Hmmm, this is a bit more difficult to describe than to demonstrate, but let me try to give a somewhat simplified explanation. The principle of the circle is probably easiest to see in the old frame 1st routine, but since you are not particularly familiar with Chen style, let me simplify it even farther by using the simple chansijin exercises that you may have seen for Chen style. There are many variations practiced, but let me use one common one as an illustration. Picture a circle with one hand (rather than two for simplicity sake) similar to the circle used in Yang style Cloud Hand posture. If you take the transition from Single Whip to Cloud Hand using only the right hand, and continue the body and hand motions without taking the closing step with feet together, then the resulting circling hand (with feet kept in place) and body shifts and waist turns would be very similar to a simple one-handed Chen style chansijin drill.

Each circle of this hand would contain the potential for the eight energies/applications.

The following would be my interpretation of where these energies could be manifested if desired (based on my own understandings of the energies and the Chen principles; any errors are solely my own as I have not been specifically shown this for this circle):
With the following dynamics stated from the Chen style perspective, the initial shift to the right leg (for Yang style going from Single Whip to Cloud Hand) would accompany a turning of the right palm towards the right. This could express An/Push energy. After the weight is finished transferring to the right, the left kua/hip joint is relaxed/settled accompanied by a sinking of the right elbow and the palm becoming more vertical. This could express Cai/Pluck/Pull-down energy. The weight shift to the left accompanied by the downward arcing hand toward the groin could express Lu/Roll-back energy. With the continuing shift to the left and the hand crossing the centerline of the body, the hand begins to turn inward to face the body and the energy in the forearm can be used to express Ji/Squeeze/Press (for someone used to expressing Ji as a two-handed technique, as many practitioners seem to do, this example may be difficult to visualize, but just try to imagine how it would be expressed using only one hand and I think this example would be understandable). As the weight finishes shifting to the left and the waist turns to the left, the right shoulder can express Kao/Shouldering against an opponent. As the body starts shifting back to the right leg and the waist starts turning to the right, the right elbow comes upward as the hand begins circling upwards. This could express Zhou/Elbowing energy. As the body and waist continue rightward the arm rises toward the top of the circle and the hand turns palm outward. This could express Peng/Ward-off energy (although the structural integrity of Peng would also occur throughout the circle). Lie/Split is more difficult to see in one-handed techniques, but it can also be expressed within this circle, depending on how the technique is actually applied in relation to an opponent. For example, where the Ji energy is explained above, if you continue control of an opponent's left arm such that your right elbow lines up with their left elbow, especially if their arm is straightened by the previous application of Lu, then Lei could be expressed to control them or to dislocate their elbow (the Lei push/pull force-couple would be: push = your elbow against theirs, and pull = your hand against their wrist); similarly, the shoulder could be used in a similar force-couple where Kao is explained above (push = your shoulder against their arm, shoulder, or back, and pull = your hand against their wrist). Another place where Lei could be expressed is where An is explained above if you had your right leg trapping behind their leg(s) (the force-couple would be push = your hand, forearm, upper arm, shoulder, or even your back, and pull = your right leg forcing them to trip and fall backwards to the ground).

I try to visualize these energies within any circle performed in the form, whether vertical or horizontal, one-handed or two (circling in the same or opposite directions), in front to the side or across the body, etc. I hope this clarifies the previous post, and I hope nobody minds a lengthy discussion of Chen style on this Yang style forum.}}
******************************************************
Well, that certainly seems to add a whole new dimension to this endeavor.

Insight into how to deal with those those 10,000 possibilities, perhaps...

So if I understand your transmission accurately,
( Please correct me if I have erred )

This would create a kind of trilling, rapid succession, repitition/alternation of the sequence of the eight energies/notes consistently...???

Order proceeding according to the order which energies proceed through each posture of the form?

Thanks again Image
I will factor this in.

Best regards,
Psalchemist.
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Postby DPasek » Tue Oct 26, 2004 5:40 pm

Psalchemist,

You wrote:
<< So if I understand your transmission accurately,
( Please correct me if I have erred )

This would create a kind of trilling, rapid succession, repitition/alternation of the sequence of the eight energies/notes consistently...???

Order proceeding according to the order which energies proceed through each posture of the form?>>

Depending on the speed of the music (or form performance), and which transitional energies you wished to include, this could be so. This level of complexity may be too much for an attempt to set the form to music, but I thought that I should at least alert you to the possibility. You can see, though, that the form could contain thousands of possible applications, and deciding which to include (and in what order) may be rather daunting.

One consideration is deciding how to apply the energies to the transition movements. In the sequence Ward-off Right/ Roll-back/ Press/ Push/ (Single Whip) it may be tempting to take the transition from the end of Press to the end of Push (two clearly defined energies since the postures are named for them) and use just the musical note associated with Push (whatever it is determined to be). However, this transition is typically viewed as setting up the Push, and would thus have some associated energy involved, and this energy could be different depending on the interaction with your opponent. Possibilities include the following:
A) If the opponent is pushing with both hands on your shoulders, you could deflect them up over your shoulders when shifting back by placing your hands, wrists, or forearms under their arms and lifting up slightly as you shift back.
B) If the opponent is pushing with both hands on your hips, you could deflect or pull them downward by placing your hands on top of theirs as you shift back.
C) For either of the above you could also split their energy to the sides of your body by placing your hands, wrists, or forearms inside of their arms and guiding them outward as you shift back.
Each of the above uses a different energy, in the same transition in the form, to set up the following Push, but which is used depends on the specifics of the interaction with your opponent. How would you decide which to use in the musical composition?

The simplest option would be to ignore the transitional energies and just use one note throughout to represent Push (the major or explicitly expressed energy for this posture). Two notes could be used if one of the options outlined above is preferred by you or your teacher, so that one note would represent a transitional energy and Push would represent the completion of the move. My Chen style bias would lead me to probably use at least four notes as follows: one during the transition at the start of the shift back when the hands are arcing upward; another when the hands start the downward arc from the apex; a third when the hands sink downward toward the bottom; the fourth when shifting forward for the Push. In application this could represent option A at the beginning of the shift back while the hands/arms are arcing upward; when still shifting back but when the arms start arcing downward could represent option C (if the wrists or forearms are used to contact under an opponent's arms during option A, then when your elbows start sinking it would be easy to let the fingers raise to the inside of the opponent's arms); when the arms sink down in front of your torso could represent option B (after the hands attain the inner position during option C, then they could continue over to the top and grab the opponent's forearm or wrist to pull them down); and finally Push when shifting forward.

In this transition, at least as I was taught, with essentially symmetrical arm movements and little if and waist turning, it is difficult for me to see all eight energies in this posture. (Note: The equivalent Chen style transition between the equivalent to Yang's Press and Push is easier to see where the other energies could be.) For example, I do not see where Elbowing or Shouldering could be applied in the Yang style version of this posture and transition. Perhaps you were taught different details and may be able to include all eight energies in this posture and the transition. In any case, I hope I have provided something of interest for you to experiment with.

DP
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Postby Kalamondin » Tue Oct 26, 2004 9:39 pm

Hi Everyone,

What a fascinating topic! There are so many possible considerations. So far, it looks like people have been leaning towards a more “absolute” composition wherein each application (or movement or whatever) is assigned particular musical combination of notes. Of course, there are infinite variations possible in this, depending on which application you choose to focus on, keys, notes, instruments, etc., etc. as has already been mentioned.

But in reading through this thread, I wondered about digitizing the form itself and transposing it into music. I’m talking about making recordings of different practitioners to generate the sound or music of the form, directly related to what their body is doing. A kind of musical bio-feedback, if you will. This could be synchronized with film of the practitioner doing the form and used as an instructional tool.

OK, I’m getting ahead of myself: here’s the basic premise: somehow, the movements are measured. Then they are transposed into music. There are so many possible things to measure: movement (hand-foot, elbow-knee, shoulder-hip combinations?), weight distribution, heart rate, brain waves, eye movement, etc.

For making measurements: a pressure sensitive floor (I hear they are doing fascinating things with pressure sensitive paints too, but that’s probably several years down the road) to measure the weight distribution in the feet, electrodes to measure heart-rate and brain waves, laser sensors to plot arm and leg trajectories, or that snazzy suit that the CGI people used to do martial arts trajectory measurements on that TV program several months ago).

Granted, this is a project for someone who has a lot of money or somehow has access to all of these things. It would be really cool though.

Then, different values get assigned to the spectrum of data you generate (here’s where a musician would need to decide intervals and keys, etc.). I would suggest something low for the feet, like a cello, or bassoon. Then when the weight changes, we hear a kind of low groaning. Or you could choose more earth based sounds. Or maybe the feet would be the percussion and the low drone would come from the leg work. Perhaps a different sound for opening and closing the qua. Smaller quicker variations from sensors on the abdomen to approximate the circular movements of the dan tien.

Each fingertip could be a higher note, a wind instrument, left and right fingers corresponding. Then, someone who can keep their fingers still would have a rather steady chord, but someone who waggles their fingers would “play” the series of notes in a chord.

Movements of the arms could be swooping violin noises: the long arc of the left arm into single whip could be like the sound of a bow drawn steadily over a violin string…in the practitioner who moves steadily. Someone whose form is jerkier would hear a see-sawing of notes instead of a smooth arcing combination of sound.

So, in theory, the more smooth and harmonious the form of the practitioner being recorded, the more smooth and harmonious the music will be.

Happy playing,
Kal
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Postby DPasek » Thu Oct 28, 2004 3:38 pm

It sounds like you have come up with a great approach.
Hope you can pull it off at some point in time.

Happy Playing (for both arts: musical & martial)
DP
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Postby psalchemist » Fri Oct 29, 2004 2:26 pm

Greetings DPasek,

Thank you for that very interesting analysis.

You probed:
>>One consideration is deciding how to apply the energies to the transition movements....>>DPasek

Yes, definitely...I agree that transitions are of major consideration.
Actually, it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to unmesh their significance from the form.

Thank you for explaining, in depth, how I would think this through.
Which is what I shall have to do...


From what I observe thus far, there is little or next to no empty space...and the full space is heavily permeated with detail.

At the finalization of each posture there would have to be some sort of pause?
More staccatto and defined in the beginning of the form, more legatto in later parts (paraphrasing your thoughts)...Here I see some opportunity for empty space...

But how would one add a sense of empty space to the overall music to balance its busy essence?
How will I instill the sense of quiessence?
( A Yang ten essential, are you familiar with the expression in Chen style ? )?
Even the quietest hush would be full...???

Thanks once again Dpasek,
Your post has been very helpfull to me in my endeavors.
I appreciate your efforts.

Best regards,
Psalchemist.
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Postby psalchemist » Fri Oct 29, 2004 2:27 pm

Greetings Kalamondin,

Thank you for conrtibuting to the pool of ideas.

You wrote:
<< here’s the basic premise: somehow, the movements are measured. Then they are transposed into music. There are so many possible things to measure: movement (hand-foot, elbow-knee, shoulder-hip combinations?), weight distribution, heart rate, brain waves, eye movement, etc.>>Kalamondin

I do believe I understand your innovations...
So this complex machine(s),
would have to be created,
by the information input based upon a translation or interpretation,
of the form firstmost into score...
The way I see it,
If one could first translate it,then maybe one could design such a machine by it. And thus customize the symphony of the form.
And because we perform the form slightly differently each time...even our own tailored sounds would change from session to session. ?
It's an interesting extension to the idea, I feel,
Considering the importance of the factor of change in TaiChi itself.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Best wishes,
Psalchemist.
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Postby psalchemist » Fri Oct 29, 2004 2:29 pm

Greetings to all contributors of this thread,

With this WONDERFUL list of ideas,
Begining with the chords assigned to shifting, hips...
and finalizing with a computer program similation...
and tailor made symphonies...
I am very hopefull Image
Although quite overwhelmed at first,
With time to consider all these helpfull presentations,
It seems much more plausible, executable, attemptable.
It is a project I am approaching, nevertheless, very cautiously.
It is like many little projects within one large one.
And there is little point in putting brush to canvas,
until the image is somewhat visualized...
I must say, this project is already much more concrete,
than it was a couple months ago,
Without one note as of yet struck or scored,
There has been much progress acheived.

I thank you all very much for your suggestions.

Psalchemist
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