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Passions of the Literati
Themes for a recital of silk-string guqin music 1
Passions played out in Chinese opera 2  

Generally speaking, qin melodies in my repertoire which fit into this theme can be divided into three categories: men and women; friends; and high principles. Representative melodies in each category include the following (no link means my reconstruction is incomplete):

I. Men and women

  1. Abandonment Han Gong Qiu: Ban Jieyu discarded like fan in autumn
    Xiang Si Qu: a female ghost sings of her abandonment
    Yanyi Ge: Wife accuses Baili Xi: once rich he forgot her
    Changmen Yuan: Empress Chen left in Changmen Palace
  2. Bereavement Cangwu Yuan: Two wives of Shun mourn his death
    Xiang Jiang Yuan: same
  3. Courtship Feng Qiu Huang: Sima Xiangru seduces Zhuo Wenjun
    Wenjun Cao: same story as previous, but different lyrics and melody
    Guan Ju: A lord seeks his lady, from the Shi Jing
  4. Infatuation Moshang Sang: Luofu tells a courting lord that she will remain true to her husband
    Xian Pei Ying Feng: Jiaofu from Zheng meets two river nymphs
  5. Loneliness Zhi Zhao Fei: Man in 50s lonely: even birds have mates
  6. Sacrifice Chu Ge: Yu Ji's suicide
  7. Separation Da Hujia: Cai Wenji abducted by nomads
    Dao Yi Qu and/or Dao Yi: Pounding cloth while loved ones are at frontier
    Gui Yuan Cao: song with Li Qingzhao's song about being abandoned in her chamber
    Longshuo Cao: Wang Zhaojun sent to the barbarians
    Qiu Feng Ci: Loved one away
II. Friends
  1. Bereavement Boya Diao Ziqi: Boya mourns death of Ziqi
    Ya Sheng Cao: Confucius mourns for Yan Hui
  2. Drinking Jiu Kuang: We drink for philosophical principles
    Zuiweng Yin: About the Old Toper, Ouyang Xiu
  3. Separation Yangguan Sandie (long version and short version: Parting on long journey
III. Heaven and principles

  1. Detachment Yuan You Song Yu's search for principles
  2. Involvement Li Sao: Qu Yuan's search for a good ruler
    Xing Tan: The Apricot Tree Forum, where Confucius taught

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Passions of the Literati
The first presentation on this theme took place 27 July 2002, with 戴曉蓮 Dai Xiaolian (see below) at the Chime conference in Sheffield, England. The theme of the conference was "Sex, Love, and Romance: Reflections on the Passions in East Asian Music". Su Zheng of Wesleyan University provided commentary.

My part of this recital consisted of introducing and playing several relevant melodies, many of them from Xilutang Qintong. These were:

Feng Qiu Huang (A Male Phoenix Searches for his Mate), which includes lyrics by which Sima Xiangru is said to have seduced Zhuo Wenjun ("Feng xi, Feng xi, gui gu xiang....")

Boya Diao Ziqi (Boya Mourns Ziqi): Boya finally meets someone who understands his music, then the man dies.

Han Gong Qiu (Autumn in the Han Palace): also called Autumn Fan, Ban Jieyu mourns that the emperor has discarded her, as one would a fan in autumn.

Yanyi Ge (Doorbar Song): the abandoned wife of the statesman Baili Xi comes to the court and sings of their former poverty (Baili Xi apparently then took her back). Dai and I played this together.

戴曉蓮 Dai Xiaolian (Chinese Wiki)
Dai Xiaolian, a native of Shanghai, is a professor at the Shanghai Conservatory and a "國家級非物質文化遺產古琴藝術代表性傳承人 Representative Inheritor of the National Intangible Cultural Heritage of Guqin Art". At the age of 9 she began to study guqin from her grandfather, the famous 廣陵派 Guangling School guqin master 張子謙 Zhang Ziqian, but she also studied with a number of other famous masters including 吳景略 Wu Jinglue and 吳文光 Wu Wenguang, then at the Shanghai Conservatory with 姚丙炎 Yao Bingyan, 林友仁 Lin Youren and 龔一 Gong Yi. Still at the Shanghai Conservatory, she has made nuumerous recordngs and often performs in China and abroad.


2. Carrying a qin in Chinese opera
This image, copied from demona.pixnet.net, shows Chen Miaochang holding a qin during the scene 琴挑 Qin Tiao in the 崑曲 Kunqu opera 玉簪記 Yu Zan Ji.

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