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Henan Province and Guqin 1
Themes, related qin handbooks2 and the Zhongzhou School3
Kaifeng honors Shi Kuang4    

The area of what is today Henan province, straddling the Yangzi river in central China, was very significant in the early development of the guqin. While it may not be possible to know the full nature of guqin music in the China of that time (i.e., more than 800 years ago), one of the best ways to begin is to examine the known details of guqin music connected in some way to Henan both during that time5 and later (since around 1200).6 For the earlier period, in addition to music such as what can be included on this program, we have details of many famous early qin players who were from and/or lived there in antiquity.7 And a number of surviving poems from and/or associated with this region have been used as lyrics for guqin songs.8

The importance of some of the ancient cities in the area of what is today Henan province is significant to the early rise of guqin music. Early capital cities here include Luoyang10 (Loyang) and Kaifeng11 (plus a nearby archaeological site12) as well as archaeological sites around Anyang (both Shang dynasty13 and Warring States Period14) and Shangqiu (Warring States Period15). Of these, Luoyang and Kaifeng in particular have many associations with the qin. Other parts of Henan with notable connections to ancient melodies include the Song Shan mountain range in central Henan16 and the reputed Bamboo Grove of the Seven Sages sometimes said to have been near Shanyang in northern Henan.17

Coming to the later period, the earliest surviving printed handbook, Shen Qi Mi Pu (1425), has a number of ancient melodies with at least thematic connections with the earlier period (further comment). Then at least two more important early qin handbooks seem actually to have been compiled in Henan: Fengxuan Xuanpin (1539)18 and Guyin Zhengzong (1634).19 In fact, though, although some of the melodies in these latter two handbooks may have had local origin or undergone local revision, it cannot at present be known whether any of the pieces in these handbooks reflected a local style: the 1539 handbook is a collection exclusively of old tablatures from various sources, and the 1634 one has revised versions of old melodies plus some apparent new ones (including the earliest surviving version of one of the most popular, Ping Sha Luo Yan20). In addition, although all three of these handbooks have early versions of many famous guqin melodies, and although some of the most famous early qin melody titles are specifically associated with this region, these three handbooks were all compiled by Ming dynasty princes, apparently from a wide variety of sources, and there is no direct evidence that they included any music specific to Henan.21

It is not until the mid 18th century that we have a qin handbook said specifically to refer to a local Henan qin style; the style/school was called Zhongzhou Pai (Zhongzhou Qin School). There soon followed several mid-Qing handbooks that also identified their melodies as being from this tradition. However, these versions did not survive to the present as part of an active repertoire. Now there is an effort under way to try to reclaim this name; to my knowledge this has not yet include efforts to reconstruct the way melodies were played in these Zhongzhou handbooks.

For these reasons, and since my repertoire consists mainly of melodies I have reconstructed from tablature published during the Ming dynasty, the melodies that I can play in a Henan program are selected due to the people, places and stories connected to the melodies; the extent to which they can be called Henan or Henan-style melodies is not known.22

The melodies for a Henan program could thus include the following:23

  1. Withdrawing from Society (遯世操 Dun Shi Cao; 1425)
    Xu You goes into reclusion in the Song Shan mountains of Henan.

  2. Guangling Melody (廣凌散 Guangling San; 1425)
    There was a Guangling in Henan, the Nie Zheng story is set in Henan and Xi Kang is said to have learned the melody at a pavilion here.24

  3. Wine Mad (酒狂 Jiu Kuang; 1425)
    A melody connected to Ruan Ji, like Xi Kang one of the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove (in northern Henan)

  4. Autumn Moon Shining on a Reed Pavilion (秋月照茅亭 Qiuyue Zhao Maoting; 1425)
    Connected to Cai Yong (Kaifeng) or Zuo Si (Luoyang).

  5. Nomad Reed Pipe: the short version (小胡笳 Xiao Hujia; 1425) or long version (大胡笳 Da Hujia; 1425)
    Central Asian nomads abduct Cai Wenji from her home near Kaifeng (short version may be more ancient).

  6. Jade Sheng, Heavenly Crane (瑤天笙鶴 Yao Tian Sheng He; 1525)
    Wangzi Qiao rides off to immortality from a peak in the Song Shan Mountain range in Henan.

  7. Discussing the Dao at Kongtong Mountain (崆峒問道 Kongtong Wen Dao; with Dalü Yi and Kongtong Yin; 1525)
    The Yellow Emperor and Guangchengzi on a mountain sometimes said to be in Henan (further under Kongtong Wen Dao as well as under Laozi himself).

  8. Fragrant Orchids (佩蘭 Pei Lan; with 鶴舞洞天 He Wu Dongtian; 1525)
    A Clear Thinker in the Song Shan Mountain range.

  9. Mozi Sings with Feeling (墨子悲歌 Mozi Bei Ge; 1609)
    Some claims have been made that the philosopher Mozi was from Henan, specifically Shangqiu or Lushan.

    Songs (there is also a sung version of the above Wine Mad)
    - some might require a separate singer

  10. Song of Four Laments (四思歌 Si Si Ge, 1597)
    A setting of lyrics by Zhang Heng in which, from Luoyang, he mourns four friends (lovers?) absent in the four directions.

  11. Detained in Gloom Lament (拘幽操 Ju You Cao; 1511)
    A setting of lyrics by Han Yu in the voice of Wen Wang while he was imprisoned in Youli, now part of Anyang.

  12. Longing to Return Prelude (思歸引 Si Gui Yin; 1511)
    A setting of lyrics by Shi Chong expressing his desire to return to his home in Heyang, across the Yangzi river from Luoyang and his other home in 金谷 Jingu.

  13. Ancient Lament (古怨 Gu Yuan; 12th c.)
    The lyrics by Jiang Kui mention Jin Gu, a valley to the northwest of Luoyang (Jin Gu, like Heyang, was a home of Shi Chong - see previous).

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Henan
A qin program featuring Henan could focus on melodies I play with themes connected to Henan, or it could also have melodies claiming a Henan style of play (e.g., 中州派 Zhongzhou School; these latter would have to be played by someone else.

Here it should be emphasized that, although at present there is no way to know which old guqin melodies themselves may have originated in Henan, or what parts of them might reflect a local tradition, perhaps eventually (in particular, after a much larger percentage of the entire early repertoire has been reconstructed and the differing versions of all of these pieces have been rigorously compared) it will be possible to make educated guesses.

2. Qin handbooks from Henan province
The last five of the nine qin handbooks listed here are said to be connected to the 中州派 Zhongzhou School. To my knowledge the stylistic aspects of the music in these guqin handbooks has not yet been established. The handbooks include:

  1. 風宣玄品 Fengxuan Xuanpin (QQJC II; 1539)
    A famous collection of 101 melodies, most of which seem to have been old tablatures; compiled by a prince in Henan, otherwise no known musical connection to the area

  2. 思齊堂琴譜 Sizhaitang Qinpu (QQJC IX; 1620)
    13 melodies, one (Ou Lu Wang Ji) her own composition; compiled by 崇昭王妃 a concubine of Prince Zhao of Chong (centered on 汝寧 Runing, on the east side of 駐馬店 Zhumadian?)

  3. 古音正宗 Guyin Zhengzong (QQJC IX; 1634)
    60 melodies, 14 apparently new (including Yan Luo Ping Sha; compiled by another prince in Henan

  4. 一峰園琴譜 Yifengyuan Qinpu (QQJC XIII; 1709)
    20 melodies; 10 with lyrics (a few may be new); 10 with no lyrics (1 is new)

  5. 琴書千古 Qinshu Qiangu (QQJC XV; 1738)
    4 folios, 24 melodies (2 or 3 new; 3 with lyrics); compiler unclear; Zha Fuxi says clearly 中州派 Zhongzhou School

  6. 琴劍合譜 Qin Jian Hepu (QQJC XVIII; 1749)
    "Handbook of Qin and Sword"; earliest known book of the Zhongzhou School. All that survives seems to be an incomplete draft copy with only 11 of the original 23 melodies (ToC XVIII/299); it has one new title: 桃李園 Tao Li Yuan (XVIII/309).

  7. 潁陽琴譜 Yingyang Qinpu (QQJC XVI; 1751)
    This handbook, which has 12 pieces all with pre-existing titles seems, like previous, to be considered as a handbook of the Zhongzhou School apparently started by 李郊 Li Jiao of 溵州 Yinzhou.

  8. 研露樓琴譜 Yanlulou Qinpu (QQJC XVI; 1766)
    4 folios, 20 melodies (no new titles); Zhongzhou School; by 崔應階 Cui Yingjie, a student of 王受白 Wang Shoubai (王封采 Wang Fengcai)

  9. 龍吟閣秘本琴譜 Longyin'ge Miben Qinpu (QQJC XVIII; mid-18th c.)
    1 folio, 3 titles, none new but apparently here in style of Zhongzhou School (王受白 Wang Shoubai)

Other handbooks to consider:

There may be other handbooks to consider as well, but I have not seen such arguments. As for the latter four handbooks listed above, they introduce only one new melody title, 桃李園 Tao Li Yuan.

3. Zhongzhou School (中州派 Zhongzhou Pai)
76.179 中州 (literally Middle Region) says it can refer to all of China or specifically to Henan, since Henan is considered to be in the middle of China. There is also a region of Henan called Zhongzhou (新安 Xin An, near Loyang?).

This qin style, also called Zhongzhou Orthodox Style (中州正派 Zhongzhou Zheng Pai), is thus associated particularly with Henan; it was apparently started in the 18th century by 李郊 Li Jiao of 溵州 Yinzhou. Several handbooks around that time are said to document its style.

Details of the Zhongzhou style and of its later players is unclear, but it is said that the last known player of this style died mid-20th century, and Henan was not included in Zha Fuxi's guqin work of the 1950s.

On the other hand, since the revival of interest in the qin in the present century efforts have been made to revive a school of that name. In 2007 there was a Zhongzhou School Dapu Conference in Zhengzhou that featured reconstructions of old melodies. As part of this effort it seems that claims are made that that pretty much any qin player associated with the Henan region belonged to the Zhongzhou School, giving it a long history. I do not know what evidence there is of pre-Qing dynasty use of this term in connection with the qin, or of people specifically reviving versions of melodies as played in the Qing dynasty handbooks associated with Zhongzhou school of that time.

(As far as I can tell, the revival is led by players including 丁紀園 Ding Jiyuan (1942-; listed as Shu school), 韓廷瑤 Han Tingyao and 松大年 Song Danian.

4. Kaifeng honors Shi Kuang
Old photo: see details, including Shi Kuang's connection to Henan.

5. Guqin music from before 1200 CE
The main source for guqin music of this period (other than the ancient piece You Lan preserved in Japan) is the first handbook known to have been printed rather than simply hand-copied, the Shen Qi Mi Pu of 1425. It seems very likely that this handbook preserves music as written down in Hangzhou during the 13th century - certainly there was an effort to do this - but the first folio of that handbook in particular seems to include much earlier music, perhaps including music from the manuscripts known to have been brought by Zhang Yan to Hangzhou from Kaifeng after the collapse of the Northern Song dynasty ca. 1127 CE (further details). The Shen Qi Mi Pu melodies in the program list above (except the long version of Nomad Reed Pipe) are all from the first folio.

6. Henan guqin music since 1200 CE
Shen Qi Mi Pu (1425) quite likely includes revised versions of melodies brought to Hangzhou from Kaifeng after 1127 but at present it is impossible to know which pieces these are. A few melodies published later also quite likely fit into this category. As for the later melodies with a connection to Henan, here it will be particularly interesting to examine the melodies published in the handbooks listed above.

7. Qin players of antiquity connected to Henan province
The most famous are Cai Yong, whose Qin Cao is the earliest known listing of qin melodies, and Xi Kang, whose Rhapsody on the Qin is the first known depiction of the qin in its modern form. Other pre-Tang people from Henan said to have been qin players included Cai Wenji, Chu Yanhui, Du Kui, Ruan Ji, Liu Kun, Liu Yuan, Sun Deng, Xie Kun, Yuan Zhun, Yuan Zizhi, Zhang Ji, Zhao Yuan and Zheng Shuzu.

8. Poets and lyrics associated with places in Henan
Poets from Henan who created lyrics used in qin songs include:

Songs to be considered for inclusion in the tentative program above are only ones with lyrics specific to places in Henan.

10. Luoyang / Loyang 洛陽
Old names include 東都 Dongdu, 西京 Xijing,司州 Sizhou, 河南府 Henan Fu. It was a capital city during parts of the Shang and Zhou dynasties as well as for most of the Eastern Han, and it was considered the "Eastern Capital" for part of the Tang dynasty. For shorter periods later on it was also a capital city.

11. Kaifeng 開封
Old names include 浚儀 Xunyi, 汴州 Bianzhou, 東京 Dongjing and 汴京 Bianjing. It was a capital city for most of the Northern Song dynasty as well as for brief period at other times. The images here connecting Shi Kuang with Kaifeng concern wind music.

12. Ancient archaeological site near Kaifeng (魏 Wei?)
Archaelogical site (guizhi 遺址) of the ancient Song kingdom capital, near Kaifeng? Compare Shangqiu (below), which is about 150 km to the east.

13. Anyang, Yin/Shang period ruins: 殷墟 Yinxu (Wiki)
This archeological site is one of several such sites northwest of modern Anyang city (in the direction of 臨漳 Linzhang Hebei; see also the Yinxu Museum in Anyang city itself). It is said to contain ruins of the ancient Yin dynasty capital (ca. 1350-1050 BCE).

14. Anyang, Warring States Period ruins: Ye 鄴 (also 40570.9 鄴城 Yecheng, etc.; Wiki)
This archaeological site (there may be more than one) is further north from modern 安陽 Anyang, near the Hebei border. It is not completely clear how this Ye may be related to the Ye that was once the magnificent city described by Zuo Si in his 魏都賦 Wei Capital Rhapsody (See Nienhauser, Wen Xuan I, p. 429ff). Ye itself seems to have been later, founded by Duke Huan of Qi around the time of Confucius. At the end of the Han dynasty Ye was first the headquarters of Yuan Shao (see Liu Bei), then from 210 to 220 the Wei administrative center (see Cao Cao). It was perhaps most famous for its 三台 three terraces built in 210 (金鳳臺、銅雀臺、冰井臺). However, the city eventually went into decline. For a later mention see Wang Jing'ao.

15. Shangqiu 商丘 (Wiki)
3834.22 Ancient city that during the Warring States period became the capital of the state of 宋 Song; some say that it was the home town of Mozi. Early in the Han dynasty it was the realm of the emperor's brother 劉武 Liu Wu, prince of Liang (c. 184–144 BC); an enthusiastic supporter of arts, Liu Wu was an early patron of the poet Sima Xiangru. The city was later sometimes called Kweiteh (貴德 Gui De).

16. Song Shan 嵩山
This mountain range, associated with a number of qin melodies, runs east to west south of Luoyang.

17. 山陽 Shanyang
The exact location is unknown. See further under Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove.

18. Fengxuan Xuanpin (1539)
Compiled by Zhu Houjiao, 徽恭王 Prince Gong of the Hui region, south of the Song Shan range (perhaps centered on 禹州 Yuzhou, northwest of the modern 許昌 Xuchang).

19. 古音正宗 Guyin Zhengzong (1634)
Compiled by 潞王朱常淓 Zhu Changfang, Prince of Lu (or 潞簡王 Lu and Jian), a district centered on 闈輝府 Weihui district, an old name for an area near 新鄉市 Xinxiang town in what is now northern Henan province, east of 潞安 Lu'an district of Shanxi (midway between Zhengzhou and Anyang). To my knowledge the versions of melodies in this handbook have not yet been much studied.

A tourist site by 鳳凰山 Phoenix Mountain in Xinxiang has a large mausoleum honoring the Zhu Changfang's father, the Prince of Lu and Jian (images).

20. Ping Sha Luo Yan (here called Yan Luo Ping Sha)
This melody is sometimes said to have great antiquity; on the other hand it is also sometimes attributed to the Hangzhou qin player Zheng Zhengshu, who would have lived in Hangzhou when Zhu Changfang was there. To my knowledge no one has attributed the melody to Zhu Changfang himself or suggested that it has any specific connection to Henan. However, discussions of the melody's origins are usually very minimal. In addition, although some sources now credit the other new titles in this handbook to Zhu Changfang, they provide no evidence to back this up. Certainly, however, this is a topic worthy of further study (beginning with the actual reconstruction of the other new pieces from Guyin Zhengzong.)

21. Ming dynasty princes
These imperial relatives may have had few official responsibilities and may often have traveled. Zhu Quan says he dispatched assistants to all over China to collect the tablature for his Shen Qi Mi Pu. Zhu Changfang may have spent a lot of time in Hangzhou, collecting tablature there.

22. Henan theme: Henan melodies?
See the above handbook list, this Zhongzhou School footnote and this further comment. Studying the possibility of a Henan style might begin with reconstructing the 14 potentially new melodies from Guyin Zhengzong. However, the simple fact that they may have been first published in Henan does not prove the melodies themselves had local characteristics.

23. Other qin melodies with some connection to Henan
The first four of these melodies are from the Most Ancient section of the Shen Qi Mi Pu. Other potentially related melodies that I do not yet play include:

  1. Ou Cheng
    Lyrics by Cheng Hao or Cheng Yi, who lived in Luoyang

Reconstruction still tentative.

24. Melodies of Xi Kang
Xi Kang (aka Ji Kang) is also said to have been executed at Luoyang after playing Guangling San. He has also been associated with the following melodies:

  1. Feng Ru Song,
  2. Xuan Mo,
  3. Chang Qing,
  4. Duan Qing, and
  5. Gu Guan Yu Sheng

However, in spite of Xi Kang's own connection to Henan, none of these other pieces seems to have a specific connection to the area.

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