The guzheng is an instrument of nuance. While the basics boil down to "pluck with your fingers and don't tangle your hands" the advanced techniques require subtlety, understandings of changes in timbre, and fine muscle control. As guzheng performer Chen Xiyao said in an interview, it may take 5 years to learn the techniques but it takes the rest of your life to perfect your expression.
As of 1986 there were over 230 documented techniques, each with their own symbol (Han 2013, p123). Modern books have condensed that to 40. That is because each technique can be seen as a concept that can be applied according to the desires of the performer, the piece, or the occasion. Such concepts range from the famous plucking and bending of strings to percussive strikes, mutes, and runs of notes. New techniques continue to appear and their popularity will change over time. Read on for a medium length list of ~100 techniques compiled by Dr. Daniel Lee Ferguson.
About Ferguson's Work and Sources
In 1979 Dr. Ferguson compiled a comparative list of techniques from seven sources:
A. Liang Tsai-Ping's 古箏獨奏曲及箏路歷程文集 (Gǔzhēng dúzòu qǔ jí zhēng lù lìchéng wénjí), a collection of his solo works and journal about his journey learning about the guzheng. (1978) Liang Tsai-Ping published the first manual of guzheng playing to have broad reach in China some 30 years prior.
B. Jiǎng Píng (蒋萍)'s 古筝演奏法 (Gǔzhēng yǎnzòu fǎ), "Guzheng Playing Methods". (1957)
C. Zhào Yùzhāi's 古筝曲集 (Gǔzhēng qǔ jí), a collection of guzheng music and information. (1963)
D. Liú Yìzhì's (劉毅志) 談筝瑟 (Tán zhēng sè), a discussion about zithers (1966)
E. Zhèngsuìyuān (鄭穗淵)'s 筝樂理論及演奏 (Zhēng yuè lǐlùn jí yǎnzòu), "The Theory and Performance of Guzhengs" (1977)
F. Xīn Zhúrén (辛竹仁)'s 古筝弹法 (Gǔzhēng tán fǎ), "Guzheng Plucking Methods" (1978)
G. Some description reference the traditional techniques used to play the 7-stringed zither, the guqin.
I am representing Dr. Ferguson's work here (with his permission) because A) it's the most comprehensive source of English language information on fingering techniques that I know of and B) to preserve this information and increase its accessibility. There are only four known copies of his work in the world.
If you have questions or concerns, please email me through the form below.
A few notes:
1st The descriptions are my own summaries. My intent is to give you the basics of a technique so that you can ask a teacher to show you the intricacies. Therefore, some of the finer distinctions Ferguson documented are not represented here.
2nd I have rearranged the ordering of the fingerings. I have grouped techniques in categories to emphasize when groups of techniques relate to each other, and when a complex technique is derived from a simple technique. I have also tried to put simpler techniques first and complicated techniques second, as informed by my own learning experiences.
3rd there are occasional character/romanization mismatches. I choose the character written and display the closest romanization I can find. Each is noted in the footnotes.
4th there are abbreviations offered by Ferguson for some of the techniques. I do not yet understand when they are used, so I have documented a few that could easily be confused for unrelated characters. I have not attempted to display all of the abbreviations.
5th: This list is built off of texts that are 40 to 60 years old. Names and their associated techniques have changed, I am sure, and I am equally sure that different styles of play would approach different techniques differently. If something in this list conflicts with your understanding, send me an email and we'll figure it out!
6th and lastly: This listing is not intended to act as a teaching guide. You will still need a teacher to explain how to position your fingers and move your hands and arms.
As explained by Ferguson:
Free stroke: When a finger strikes only the strings intended to make a sound.
Rest Stroke: When a finger follows a strike by resting on a string without making a sound.
As explained by the The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians:
Glissando: "The effect obtained... by sliding rapidly over the relevant keys or strings with the fingernails or the fingertips." I describe them as "runs".
Tremolo: "A term now most strictly used to denote a rapid reiteration of a single note or chord without regard to measured time values"
Vibrato: "A regular fluctuation of pitch or intensity (or both), either more or less pronounced and more or less rapid."
Mordent: "The rapid alternation of the main note with a subsidiary note a step below."
Grace Notes: "Ornamental notes... [of] unmeasured duration which is not counted as part of the written bar length. Speed of execution [varies but]... grace notes are usually performed lightly and very quickly."
Right Hand Techniques
Technique names are given in simplified and traditional scripts alongside pronunciation. Ferguson also provides abbreviated characters used in some contexts; I have provided those that closely resemble known characters to help out in cases of confusion. Most cannot be represented with existing digital character sets. The abbreviations are not meant to be pronounced so I have omitted their romanization.
托 (abr. 乇) , Tuō: The thumb strikes a string while moving away from the performer. There is a distinction made between using the first knuckle of the thumb and the second to actuate, something I have heard as "small knuckle" and "big knuckle". The distinction seems to be context sensitive, as does whether or not it is played as a free stroke or a rest stroke.
劈 or 擘 (abr. 尸), Pī or Bò: The thumb strikes a string moving towards the performer. Always played as a free stroke (1). Can be alternated with Tuō (small knuckle) to create a rapid striking of the same string.
抹 (abr. 木), Mǒ: The index finger pulls a string towards the performer.
挑 (abr. 乚), Tiāo: The index finger pushes a string away from the performer. Always a free stroke.
勾 (abr. 勹), Gōu: The middle finger pulls a string towards the performer.
剔, Tī: The middle finger pushes a string away from the performer.
打 (abr. 丁), Dǎ: Some sources say this is the ring finger pulling a string toward the performer with a rest stroke (Source E, G). Others say this is the ring finger pushing a string away from the performer as a free stroke (Sources A, F).
摘, Zhāi. Possibly also Zhé, character not specified (折?): The ring finger pushing a string away from the performer as a free stroke. Also taken from qin traditions. (Sources E, G)
扣, Kòu: The ring finger pushes a string away from the performer as a free stroke (Source F).
小指内彈, Xiǎozhǐ nèi tán, "little finger plucks inward": The smallest finger on the hand, or pinky finger, pulls a string towards the performer. This is a newer technique (Source F, 1978); I have seen it used by performers (2017), but Ferguson wrote he believed the smallest finger was never used by performers (1979).
连, Lián, using the same finger to pull or push across multiple strings in whatever rhythm indicated by the music. This is played slower than a glissando. Named examples are:
连托, Lián tuō, Repeated tuō: The thumb moves away from the performer, pushes across a run of strings in quick succession.
连劈, Lián pī, Repeated pī: The thumb moves towards the performer, puling across a run of strings in quick succession.
连抹, Lián mǒ, Repeated mǒ, AND 歷, Lì: The index finger moves towards the performer, pulling across a run of strings in quick succession.
连挑, Lián tiāo, Repeated tiāo: The index finger moves away from the performer, pushing across a run of strings in quick succession.
连勾, Lián gōu, Repeated gōu: The middle finger moves towards the performer, pulling across a run of strings in quick succession.
连剔, Lián tī, Repeated tī: The middle finger moves away from the performer, pushing across a run of strings in quick succession.
撮 (abr. 早) , Cuō, Also 大撮, Dà cuō, "Big cuō": The thumb and middle finger pinch together by paying a tuō and gōu, respectively, on two different strings. The strings must be an octave apart. For example, if the thumb plays an A in one octave, the middle finger plays the the A in the next octave lower.
小撮, Xiǎo cuō, "Small cuō": The thumb and middle finger pinch together by paying a tuō and gōu, respectively, on two different strings. The strings that are played must have one string between them. Also see 间弦 (trad: 間絃), Jiān xián, technique #17 below.
反撮, Fǎn cuō, "Counter-cuō" Also 喷指, Pēn zhǐ: The thumb and middle finger are an octave apart, but instead of playing strings by closing the hand as in cuō, they play the strings by opening the hand, playing a pī and tī respectively. Just as pī and tī are reverses of tuō and gōu, fǎn cuō is a reverse of cuō, hence the name.
挫, Cuò: A dampening technique. After performing cuō the thumb and middle finger reverse direction to press against the strings they just struck, silencing the vibration.
反挫, Fǎn cuò: A dampening technique. After performing fǎn cuō the thumb and middle finger reverse direction to press against the strings they just struck, silencing the vibration.
间弦 (trad: 間絃), Jiān xián, "Gap String", Also 和弦, Héxián, 和聲, Hé shēng: The different sources capture multiple techniques with these terms. The general concept is that two fingers play two strings at the same time with at least one string in between. These include the thumb and index finger playing tuō and mǒ, respectively; the index and middle playing tiāo and gōu respectively, and the thumb and middle finger playing tuō and gōu, respectively. Each source provides different guidelines for when which finger combination is used with which number of strings in between. They all agree, however, that once there are four strings in between and thus on octave is being played, the proper technique to use is cuō.
煞 (abr. 刍), Shā: A dampening technique. The palm of either or both hands is placed on the strings to silence them. Frequently used to clear the air when multiple strings are vibrating at once (say, after a Lián tuō) and to mark the end of a song.
复指 (trad: 複指), Fù zhǐ: A class of techniques where the same string is struck twice in quick succession. There are different finger combinations and timings that all fit underneath the label of Fù zhǐ. They include: The same finger striking a string twice by reversing direction (thumb, index, or middle) and pairs of fingers (thumb and index, index and middle). The category includes both strikes where the hand is closing (such as tuō then mǒ), and the reverse (tiāo then pī). The complete list offered by Ferguson is as follows:
Gōu then Mǒ
Mǒ then Gōu
Tiāo then Pī; which Ferguson names as 滚指, Gǔn zhǐ
Tī then Tiāo
Tiāo then Tī
Mǒ then Tiāo
Gōu then Tī
Tuō then Pī
Tuō then Mǒ: Not in Ferguson, but a combination I was taught that used the same notation.
Mǒ then Tuō: Not in Ferguson, but a combination I was taught that used the same notation.
打圆 (trad. 打圓), Dǎ yuán or 論指 (trad. 輪指), Lún zhǐ: two strings one octave apart are alternated with tuō on the high string first, then gōu on the lower string. The pattern is played as 16th notes for as long as the music indicates. This technique has ties to the Chaozhou School style of music.
反打圆 (trad. 反打圓), Fǎn dǎ yuán: The reverse of dǎ yuán: two strings one octave apart are alternated with gōu on the lower string first then tuō on the high string. The pattern is played as 16th notes for as long as the music indicates.
摇 (trad. 搖), Yáo, 摇指 (trad. 搖指) yáo zhǐ, or 論 (trad. 輪), Lún: A category of one of the iconic techniques of guzheng playing, this is when a finger strikes the same string very rapidly to produce a distinct tremolo. It is used to extend the duration of a note and for various effects. The performer's hand is near the fixed bridge, sometimes supported by the little finger. When the term yáo zhǐ is used by itself, it is probably referring to this technique performed with the thumb. This technique is common in the Henan School style of music. Named variations and sequences include:
食指摇 (trad. 食指搖), Shízhǐ yáo: Yáo zhǐ is performed with the index finger, the strength of the strikes coming either from the wrist or from the finger knuckles.
间弦摇指 (trad. 間絃搖指) Jiān xián yáo zhǐ: When yáo zhǐ is played directly after a jiān xián . The yáo zhǐ is started with a pī stroke, towards the performer.
勾带摇指 (trad. 勾帶搖指) Gōu dài yáo zhǐ: When yáo zhǐ is played directly after a gōu  on the same string.
撮带摇指 (trad. 撮帶搖指) Cuō dài yáo zhǐ: When yáo zhǐ is played directly after a cuō. The yáo zhǐ is started on the same string the thumb just plucked, beginning with a pī stroke.
拂撮带摇 (trad. 拂撮帶搖) Fú cuō dài yáo: Same as cuō dài yáo zhǐ, but with a Fú technique played before the cuō.
琶音摇指 (trad. 琶音搖指) Pá yīn yáo zhǐ: When yáo zhǐ is played right after a pá yīn. The yáo zhǐ is started on the same string the thumb just plucked, beginning with a pī stroke.
锁音 (trad. 鎖音) Suǒ yīn: A category of 9 techniques where multiple fingers strike the same string in a specific rhythmic pattern. Unfortunately only 5 are names and explained in Ferguson's sources:
锁音 (trad. 鎖音) Suǒ yīn: Same as category name. 3 strikes of the same string: Tī, Mǒ and Tiāo are played on the same note in the rhythm of 1/16, 1/16, 1/8
小锁 (trad. 小鎖) Xiǎo suǒ: 3 strikes of the same string: Mǒ, Tiāo and Mǒ are played on the same string in the rhythm 1/16, 1/16, 1/8.
背锁 (trad. 背鎖) Bèi suǒ: 4 strikes of the same string: Gōu, Tī, Mǒ, and Tiāo are played on the same string in the rhythm 1/8, 1/8, 1/16, 1/16.
短锁 (trad. 短鎖) Duǎn suǒ: 5 strikes of the same string: Mǒ, Gōu, Tī, Mǒ, and Tiāo are played on the same string in the rhythm 1/8, 1/8, 1/16, 1/16, 1/8.
长锁 (trad. 長鎖) Cháng suǒ: 9 strikes of the same string: The sequence is Mǒ, Tiāo, Gōu, Tī, Mǒ, Tiāo, Tī, Mǒ, Tiāo on the same string. The rhythm is 4 1/8th notes, 4 1/16th notes, then 1 1/8th note.
拂,Fú, or 拂指 (abr. 弗) Fú zhǐ: Another one of the iconic guzheng sounds. These are a category of glissando techniques, that is, runs of notes struck so quickly 3 or 4 notes fit in a single beat; harps are famous for this. A finger is run across a set of strings, stopping at a particular point. Often when a fú zhǐ ends, rather than play the next note in the sequence, a string one octave different is played. Ferguson offers these specific names:
装饰 (trad. 裝飾) Zhuāngshì: a run of three strings played by the thumb moving away from the performer as tuō.
外拂, Wài fú, 装饰拂 (trad. 裝飾拂) Zhuāngshì fú, or 短拂 Duǎn fú : a run of no more than four strings played by the thumb moving away from the performer as tuō.
内拂, Nèi fú: a run of no more than four strings played by the index or middle finger moving toward the performer as mǒ or gōu.
歷音, Lì yīn, 长拂 (trad. 長拂) Zhǎng fú: a run of five to eight strings played by the thumb, index, or middle finger, depending on direction.
䅺示拂, Biāo shì fú: More of a difference in notation than a standalone technique, the mark of biāo shì fú is placed above two notes. It indicates that a three-note Fú should be played, terminating on the first written note.
拂撮,Fú cuō: A sequence in which a Fú running way from the performer using the thumb is followed by a cuō, and one of the strings of the cuō is modified on the left with an ān yīn (see left-hand sections).
滚拂 (trad. 滾拂) Gǔn fú, also called 流水声 (trad. 流水聲) Liúshuǐ shēng: The ring finger plays a fú away from the performer, using dǎ, immediately followed by a fú played towards the performer by the index finger using mǒ.
潺拂 Chán fú: A general term for a set of techniques that involve a back and forth fú which are commonly traced in an oval pattern. These include combinations of middle then index fingers, index then thumb, or middle finger then thumb, both starting on the high strings and starting on the low strings.
流水拂 Liúshuǐ fú: A technique using both hands to create overlapping fú: The index finger of one starts on a low string and begins a fú of about four or five strings. Part way through that run the second hand begins a run. The pattern is repeated, each fú starting before the other is complete. As the hands alternate the performer moves them along the instrument from the low strings towards the high strings. The tempo and volume of the fú increase as they approach the middle pitch of the instrument, then decrease as they reach the high strings.
滑拂 Huá fú: The middle finger and index finger run through a fú from the low to high strings, moving toward the performer using mǒ and gōu. The two fingers start one string apart.
反滑拂 Fǎn Huá fú: opposite of huá fú, with the fingers using tī and tiāo instead.
乱音 (trad. 亂音) Luàn yīn: either the left or right hand plays a rapid fú halfway between the movable and fixed bridges, which is to the left of where most notes are played.
扫拂 (trad. 掃拂) Sǎo fú: the thumb uses pī to perform a quick fú running toward the body.
琶音 Pá yīn: The thumb and several fingers of the right hand strike notes as an arpeggio, that is, one after another in quick succession. Each finger strikes one note. Ferguson specifies it is four fingers in total; modern pieces use three finger pá yīn as well.
外琶音 Wài pá yīn: The arpeggio starts with the thumb, moving away from the performer's body from high notes to low.
內琶音Nèi pá yīn: The arpeggio starts with the ring finger, moving toward the performer's body from low notes to high.
轮 (trad. 輪) (abr. 侖) Lún: All five fingers strike the same string in sequence, and continues to repeat the pattern for as long as required. The thumb plays towards the performer, the other four fingers play away. The sequence may start or end with the thumb. This technique comes from the Pipa and is not a derivative of the 锁音 Suǒ yīn techniques.
泼刺指 (trad. 潑刺指) Pō cì zhǐ, 泼剌指 (trad. 潑剌指) Pō lá zhǐ: A two-handed technique. First, two adjacent strings are selected. Second, the left hand bends the lower string so that it matches the pitch of the higher string. Third, the index, middle, and ring fingers of the right hand are held tightly together. Fourth, these fingers sweep across both strings towards the performer, creating one note (not six). Fifth, these fingers sweep back across the strings away from the performer. The back and forth is often followed by a dampening of the strings with the palm of the right hand. (2)
双泼指 (trad. 雙潑指) Shuāng pō zhǐ: Two pō cì zhǐ played in sequence. The first three sweeps are soft, the fourth sweep is emphasized.
三泼指 （trad. 三潑指) Sān pō zhǐ: Three sweeps are played in sequence, towards, away, and then towards the performer. The first two are played softly, the third is played loudly.
(1) One should be wary of absolutes, but until I get information that contradicts Ferguson I will leave his absolutes in.
(2) Ferguson says 泼刺指 (trad. 潑刺指) Pō cì zhǐ is two distinct actions: Pō and cì. I assume pō refers to the three fingers sweeping towards the performer while cì is when the fingers sweep away. However, Ferguson does not specify how much of this technique is included in that. Do the number of strings played at once matter? As It's unclear where the boundaries lie I have not given pō and cì their own entries.
Left Hand Techniques
吟, yín (3): A broad category of light vibratos that rapidly depress and releasing a string to the left of a movable bridge after it has been struck. The number of fingers and the exact terminology for each technique vary by source. Ferguson calls out these specific types of yín:
颤音 (trad. 顫音) Chànyīn: A light vibrato, sometimes also used as the generic term in place of yín.
慢吟, Màn yín: A steady vibrato that is slower than Chànyīn.
急吟, Jí yín: A steady vibrato that is faster than Chànyīn.
飛吟, Fēi yín: Multiple definitions: Source A says Fēi yín requires a larger motion than Chànyīn. Sources 5 and 6 hold the opposite, saying Fēi yín is not a vibrato but instead a single light touch made just after the string is struck, like that of a dragonfly skimming the surface of water.
雙飛吟, Shuāng fēi yín: Two of the dragonfly-like fēi yín played in sequence. Source F is the only one with this term, so it is likely two quick, light presses of the string.
點, Diǎn: A light press of a string at the same time it is struck, rather than slightly after.
顿吟, Dùn yín: listed by Source E but not defined by Ferguson, Dùn yín in modern teaching is a fast press and release by the left hand, a cut into the open note. The effect is the creation of a second note. It is played halfway through the marked note. In other words, if a quarter note bears the marking for dùn yín, the open string sounds for an eighth note and is then cut.
實頓, Shí dùn, and 虛頓, Xū dùn: Named by Source E but Ferguson did not define them.
走吟, Zǒu yín: A string is depressed, raising its pitched. The right hand then strikes it repeatedly. As the strikes take place the left hand performs a vibrato while also sliding tot he left, lowering the pitch back towards normal. More specifics, and how this technique might be played on different strings in sequence, are not described.
抖吟, Dǒu yín: From Ferguson: "...combining the act of raising a [3 or 6 string] pitch to 4 or 7 with a yín technique." I am not sure if this means a tremolo so large it fluctuates between a 3 and 4, or if this means pressing first to a 4, then performing a tremolo where its lowest pitch is 4. Or perhaps it means something else. The Chinese for this is in Source E. Anyone know?
揉, Róu, or 猱, Náo: A strong vibrato played with more strength or power and that goes to a higher pitch than any of the yín/yīn. The different sources have different descriptions. Sources E and F say it is slow, only pressing the string 2 or 3 times in the space of a quarter note.
按音, Àn yīn, also 实 (trad. 實) Shí or 标示按(trad. 標示按), Biāoshì àn: The general term for pressing with the left hand to change a string's pitch. The string is pressed and held, then the right hand strikes it to sound the desired note. The pitch does not slide or change while the string sounds; it is a stable sound.
半全音, Bàn quányīn: The left hand presses a string to between a half step and whole step higher.
滑音, Huáyīn: A left-handed bend that make the pitch change audible as a slide. This group of techniques are typically played in 1/8 or 1/16 note rhythms. There are many different techniques in this category, and I would hazard many different names for each. Below are the ones Ferguson names:
The following four Huáyīn techniques all involve a string that is pressed to raise its pitch before a strike and released right after to produce an audible slide to a lower pitch. They seem to be variations on the same technique.
下滑, Xiàhuá: The pressed note is raised by either a half step or whole step/minor third. Source B has different notations for each.
前滑音, Qián huáyīn: Noted, but not explained further in Ferguson. Comes from Source C.
下滑音, Xiàhuá yīn: A downwards huáyīn used for slow rhythms.
下滑倚音, Xiàhuá yǐ yīn (4): A downwards huáyīn used for faster rhythms. Ferguson compares it to the rhythm of grace notes.
The following four Huáyīn techniques involve a string being struck, then being pressed to create an audible slide to a higher pitch. They seem to be variations on the same technique.
上滑, Shàng huá: The pressed note is raised by either a half step or whole step/minor third. Source B has different notations for each.
后滑音, Hòu huáyīn: Noted, but not explained further in Ferguson. Comes from Source C.
上滑音, Shàng huáyīn: An upwards huáyīn used for slow rhythms.
上滑倚音, Shàng huá yǐ yīn: An upwards huáyīn used for faster rhythms. Ferguson compares it to the rhythm of grace notes.
回滑音, Huí huáyīn: Not in Ferguson by this name, but its individual characters are. Combined they denote a down-up slide. A string is pressed with the left hand and struck with the right. As the string sounds the left hand releases pressure then quickly reapplies it, creating a slide to the lower, open pitch, then immediately back to a higher pitch.
特殊滑音, Tèshū huáyīn: A string is struck and while it sounds it is slowly bent to produce the next higher note, then slowly released to produce the original note.
髙回转滑音 (trad. 髙回轉滑音), Gāo huízhuǎn huáyīn: A fast version of Tèshū huáyīn, for example, 1/8 notes instead of 1/4.
低回转滑音 (trad. 低回轉滑音), Dī huízhuǎn huáyīn: The inverse of Gāo huízhuǎn huáyīn. The string is bent before the note is struck, released while it sounds, then bent back to the higher pitch.
搧拂, Shān fú: A fú, or glissando, played by the left hand, typically while the right hand continues playing.
波音, Bō yīn, or 漣音, Lián yīn: Similar to an inverted mordent. The right hand plucks a string, then a moment later, the left hand presses that string to raise it 0.5 to 1.5 steps and releases it. It is a fast technique, and more commonly performed on shorter notes (1/8, 1/16).
压弹 (trad. 壓彈), Yā tán or 压猱 (trad. 壓猱), Yā náo: After a technique involving a glissando or run of notes, the entire palm of the left hand performs a vibrato of all of the strings involved simultaneously.
The following techniques involve playing two adjacent strings at the same time, while bending the lower string to match the pitch of the higher string. The left hand's bend is audible, producing a slide. No Mandarin name is provided for this category.
双音 (trad. 雙音), Shuāng yīn: The two strings, bent to be the same pitch, are played with a lián tuō or lián tiāo, a glissando.
切, Qiè: A Shuāng yīn involving a lián tiāo, according to Source A.
重音, Zhòngyīn: The two strings are pinched, with the index finger playing mǒ and the thumb playing tuō.
捻, Niǎn: The index and thumb are again used, but this time both are played towards the performer. The index plays mǒ and the thumb plays pī.
轮 (trad. 輪), Lún: Niǎn played several times in a row.
重托, Zhòngtuō, or 双弦上滑音 (trad. 雙絃上滑音), Shuāng xián shàng huáyīn: The thumb plays tuō over both strings.
重劈, Zhòng pī: The thumb plays pī over both strings.
双弦前滑音 (trad. 雙絃前滑音), Shuāng xián qián huáyīn: Just after the right hand's thumb plays tuō over both strings the left hand releases the lower-pitched string, dropping its pitch quickly.
回, Huí: A string is pressed by the left hand, then it is struck by the right. While it is still sounding the left hand slowly releases it, creating a slow drift from the higher pressed pitch back to the lower open string. The string is only struck once; the audible sound is solely the string's resonance.
扫音 (trad. 掃音), Sǎo yīn: Four fingers of the left hand pluck four strings simultaneously to produce a gong-like effect. The left hand plucks the strings just to the right of the movable bridges.
扣, Kòu: The thumb of the left hand slides across a string from near the S-Bridge towards the movable bridges, tightening the string as it approachs. Meanwhile the right hand plays an extended yáo zhǐ, or rapid tremolo.
扭, Niǔ: The thumb and index finger pull a string upward and then release it, causing it to snap downward. Sources C and E says it the left hand must do this; Source F says it could be the right as well.
卜, bǔ: The performer wraps their knuckles on a wooden surface of the instrument.
空, Kōng: A string is left open, or unbent. I imagine this was inserted as a way to explicitly remind a performer to leave a string open, but I have yet to see it on a score.
柱, Zhù: The left hand is placed on movable bridge to dampen the string, and the right hand plucks it. It produces a vastly different sound from an open string, somewhat akin to a thumping, pitched drum. That is the same character as the term for the movable bridge.
泛音, Fànyīn: The playing of a quiet harmonic, which is where a string is touched lightly with the ring finger of the left hand halfway between the movable bridge and the right fixed bridge, then struck with the right hand. At the moment of the strike the touching finger is removed to allow the string to sound. Each string needs to be touched a different distance from the fixed bridge to produce its harmonic. Much like fretting an instrument, this shortens the length of the string to increase the pitch of its sound.
泛起, Fàn qǐ: More of a notation than a technique, this indicates where a player should switch to playing harmonics.
泛止, fàn zhǐ: More of a notation than a technique, this indicates where a player should stop playing harmonics.
(3) Ferguson indicates the character for light vibrato is 吟 which is pronounced yín, but writes the pronunciation as yīn. Because of his frequent use of 吟 I am using that character's pronunciation in this list, rather than his written pronunciation. Dr. Han 2013 confirms this character as "yin 吟 (zheng fingering technique of light vibrato)". Ferguson also mentions the term 虛, "xū", could be equivalent as well.
(4) Ferguson writes that the character 倚 has the Yale romanization "chí" which would transfer to pinyin as "qí". 倚 has the pinyin "yǐ" in my references, which is also yǐ in Yale. When in doubt I rely on the characters, hence my use of "yǐ" in the romanization.