Many melodies can be associated with specific regions or places in China. Since I play many of these, I can easily give a program playing such melodies from around China.2 It is also possibe to a greater or lesser extent to have a program that focuses on specific regions. These regions include:
Areas and specific places
One of many sites for a Fisherman's Song1
Xi'an (and southern Shaanxi province)
Most related melodies are connected by early stories
Lower Jiangnan (within a 200 km radius from Shanghai)
Almost all melodies use standard tuning.
For Hangzhou in particular, see Music from the Time of Marco Polo.
Chu/Hunan (South Central China)
Note in particular the characteristic tunings.
North and Central Asia (including the Silk Road)
About nomad problems, not trade; again note the characteristic tunings
Includes the ancient capitals Loyang/Luoyang and Kaifeng
Special focus on She county
Many important mid- and late-Ming qin handbooks were published here
The earliest surviving qin music was brought to Japan in the 17th c.; never localized
The qin was often imagined in literature and painting, but no known music
The qin was often mentioned in literature and painting, but no known music
Other specific known locations with connected melodies include
- Guangzhou, in Guangdong: Lingnan melodies in the
Wuxue Shanfang Qinpu (1836)
- Jiujiang, in Jiangxi:
Gui Qu Lai Ci (Come Away Home)
- Qu Fu, Shandong: Xing Tan (Apricot Tree Forum), where Confucius is said to have taught.
- Handan, Hebei:
Moshang Cang tells of the beautiful young Luofu rejecting the advances of a local official.
- Xiangyang, Hubei:
Xiangyang Ge (Xiangyang Song) can be sung to a poem about Xiangyang by
- Linqiong (Qionglai), Sichuan:
Linqiong Yin concerns Sima Xiangru's seduction here of Wenjun; see also
Feng Qiu Huang.
A Sichuan-theme program might actually focus on
melodies as played by Zhang Kongshan.
For some melodies the related places may be multiple, and/or the specific place may not be so easy to locate. Examples include
- Liu Shui (Flowing Streams) is often associated with Sichuan province because of the famous version by Zhang Kongshan, but other versions of Liu Shui may be associated with other places.
- Kongtong Wen Dao (Discussing the Dao at Kongtong Mountain, in Henan or Gansu)
- Mingde Yin and Kongsheng Jing (Bright Virtue Prelude / Sacred Confucian Canon; the latter is set to the text of the Great Learning; the former has Zhu Xi's commentary, probably written at the Yuelu Academy, a teaching institute (now also a museum) he had founded in Changsha, Hunan)
- Qingjing Jing (Canon of Purity and Tranquility; this chant is a morning lesson sung at a Daoist monastery in Wudang Mountain in northwest Hubei, but also elsewhere)
- Yu Hui Tushan (Emperor Yu had his capital in Henan but the Meeting at Mount Tu was supposedly near Shaoxing in Zhejiang).
Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a
This photo by Lincoln Potter was taken by the sea below my home on Cheung Chau Island, Hong Kong. Literary references properly place this song in other places. Gettings inspiration from such places does not necessarily mean playing the qin there. In fact, traditional Chinese paintings suggest that scholars would take a qin with them to help contemplate its place in nature, but such paintings rarely show them actually playing: perhaps they would do the actual playing later, in the quiet of their gardens or studies.
Silk Zither Dreams: A Musical Tour of Old China (夢迴絲桐，縵遊神州)
See separate page
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