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15: Short Version of Nomad Reed Pipe
- Huangzhong mode:2 1 3 5 6 1 2 3 )
小胡笳 1
Xiao Hujia

There are a number melodies on the theme of hujia (a term difficult to translate). They all concern the abduction by nomadic tribespeople around the year 190 CE of Cai Wenji, a beautiful and talented Han woman. The story was soon being related in poetry, song and drama, and it also soon found its way into the repertoire of various musical instruments, as mentioned in several pre-Tang dynasty sources.4 And since that time the Hujia story has continued to be popular in a variety of media. The qin melody titles on this theme most commonly seen in Ming dynasty qin publications are Xiao Hujia (four occurrences) and Da Hujia (Long Version of Nomad Reed Pipe), #47 in Folio III of Shen Qi Mi Pu (seven occurrences). In addition, this Hujia theme has been popular in painting at least since the Song dynasty; there is some discussion of this in that Da Hujia introduction.

The specific title Xiao Hujia (Short Version of Nomad Reed Pipe) does not seem to appear in Tang dynasty melody lists5 but it is mentioned in Tang dynasty poetry.6 The earliest mention as a qin title is perhaps in connection with a southern Tang dynasty qin player named Tang Yi.7 As for actual surviving tablature, these can be found in four handbooks to 1585, then once again in 1890 (unexamined, but apparently unrelated).8 Of the first four, the version in Zheyin Shizi Qinpu (<1491) adds lyrics but is otherwise identical to 1425, as is Fengxuan Xuanpin (1539). Chongxiu Zhenchuan Qinpu (1585) had the same lyrics as Zheyin, but a somewhat different melody.9

The story concerns the abduction of Cai Yan (Cai Wenji),10 daughter of the famous literatus Cai Yong11 (133-192), by the Xiongnu (Huns), around the year of her father's death near the end of the Han dynasty. Married to one of their chiefs, she had to spend 12 years living with them in Central Asia before being ransomed by the famous general Cao Cao (155-220), who had been a friend of her father. Wenji herself is credited with several poems about the experience and the story competes in popularity with the one about Wang Zhaojun married to a Xiongnu prince two centuries earlier (see #46 Longshuo Cao, Folio Three).

One source says that Xiao Hujia had 19 parts, whereas Da Hujia had 18. Its adaption as a qin piece is generally attributed to Dong Tinglan12 (ca. 695 - 765), a qin master famous for playing several melodies in huangzhong (yellow bell) mode that have a strong non-standard Chinese modal feel.

Perhaps it is significant that Dong was from Longxi,13 a region in Gansu province not far from its current capital, Lanzhou, and about 500 km WNW of Chang An, the Tang capital. He studied qin from Chen Huai(gu),14 who was then serving in the army in Fengzhou, about 150 km upriver from Chang An. Presumably Dong later spent some time in the capital because he became well known in literary circles and was highly praised in several poems. He edited a qin handbook, now lost. Two of his students, Zheng You15 and Du Shanren,16 both also became well-known players.

Three surviving qin handbooks of the 15th and 16th centuries include both Xiao Hujia and Da Hujia, the latter having 18 sections.17 But after this the Hujia title survived basically as Hujia Shiba Pai (18 Beats of Nomad Reed Pipe), always in 18 sections, though several different new melodies were tried before settling on the version common in the 18th and 19th centuries. Melodically there is little relation between the short and long versions, except that they both use the same huangzhong tuning.

As for the nomad reed pipe itself, it developed into a curved horn with three fingerholes, but the early nomad versions were said to have been made by rolling up a local reed and blowing into it.

Besides my own, there are recordings of Xiao Hujia by Xu Jian (first half), Ding Yang and Yao Gongbai, as well as the recording with transcription in Bell Yung's Celestial Airs of Antiquity.

Original preface18

The Emaciated Immortal says

this piece was written by Dong Tinglan in the latter half of the Tang dynasty. It concerns (the following story:)

Cai Yong's daughter Cai Yan, literary name Wenji, during the great disorder at the end of the Han dynasty, was kidnapped by nomad (hu) cavalry and became a queen in their foreign land. In 12 years she bore two sons; the king respected her. Once in spring (while riding a nomad chariot), she was so moved by the sound of a nomad reed pipe that she herself rolled up a bullrush reed to make a pipe and blew into it; the sound was very mournful. Dong Tinglan used the qin for expressing these sounds of the nomad reed pipe. These are the Short and Long Versions of Nomad Reed Pipe. The Long Version of Nomad Reed Pipe is in Folio III (#47).

Six sections:

(00.00) -- Prelude
(01.06) 1. The geese are returning, so she thinks of China
(02.01) 2. Blowing on the reed pipe to express her grief
(02.52) 3. She cannot control her words
(04.26) 4. Offering up a great sigh to heaven.
(07.22) -- Postlude
(10.22) -- Piece ends

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Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Xiao Hujia 小胡笳 (see also Xu Jian, QSCB, Chapter 5)
7632.411 小胡笳 Xiao Hujia says see 2741.155 十九拍 Shijiu Pai (19 Sections):

Shijiupai (19 Sections): Name of a Hujia melody, by Cai Yan of the Latter Han dynasty. (YFSJ, Qin Melody Lyrics, Hujia Shibapai [this is on p.861, beginning line 1, after the passage quoted in 18 Sections]) Qin Ji says, "Big Hujia in 18 Sections and Small Hujia Shijiupai in 19 Sections were both written by Cai Yan." According to the qin melody (Xiao Hujia?) by Cai Yi there was a Big and a Small Hujia in 18 Sections. Shen Liao's Collection [Bio/xxx; the meaning of the text here is unclear] at the time names a Shen ["Liu" in YFSJ seems to be a mistake, corrected in Cai Yi] Family Sounds is Small Hujia, and there is also an added sound for one section, altogether making 19 sections, calling it Zhu Family Sounds. It is not clear to what period Mr. Zhu belonged [QSCM has "何人所載"].

YFSJ goes on to quote Li Liangfu's Guangling Shixipu Xu to explain 契 "add", then 李肇 Li Zhao's 國史補 Guoshi Bu saying that during the Tang dynasty Dong Tinglan was good at both the Shen and the Zhu sounds.

In addition, the Tang writer Yuan Zhen wrote a Preface to Xiao Hujia (see below. It is quoted in 41049.1228 金徽 Jin Hui (Golden Studs).

2. For Huangzhong (or Wuyi) mode, slacken 1st, tighten 5th strings each a half step. For more details on this mode see under Kai Zhi and in Shenpin Wuyi Yi. For more on modes in general see Modality in Early Ming Qin Tablature.

4. 30073.357-61 Hujia 胡笳 mentions varous melodies on different instruments.

5. Early melody lists mention only Hujia.

6. Tang poetry specifically mentioning Xiao Hujia
The best known example seems to be 元稹 Yuan Zhen, 小胡笳引 Xiao Hujia Yin. (It seems sometimes to be called 無名氏 Anonymous, 姜宣彈小胡笳引歌 Jiang Xuan plays prelude song for Xiao Hujia Yin'ge.) The lyrics are as follows:

哀笳慢指董家本,姜宣得之妙思忖。(See QSCB, p. 55)

7. Cai Yi 蔡翼
32581.xxx; Bio/2446xxx (Sui). Qin player of the Southern Tang dynasty; no further information other than that in his Xiao Hujia and Qin Diao.

8. See Zha Fuxi's Guide, 3/35/42. More details are in the appendix.

9. The lyrics concern...

10. #47 Da Hujia has further information on 蔡琰 Cai Yan.
Giles gives this story under Ts'ai Yen, and mentions her skill in music.

11. 蔡邕 Cai Yong is connected to a number of melodies, including #13 Qiuyue Zhao Maoting ;

12. Xu Jian, Qinshi Chubian, p.55, discusses Dong Tinglan.

13. 42837.8 隴西 Longxi; almost all references are to Gansu

14. Qinshu Cunmu Folio II #2 lists a "Qinpu 21 folios" under his name, connecting it also with Zhao Yeli.

15. Zheng You 鄭宥 40513.xxx

16. Du Shanren 杜山人
The proper name of Du Shanren (Mountain Man Du) was apparently 杜陵 Du Ling.

17. See also Qinshu Daquan (1590, V. pp.222, 261-7 and 270. No music included but a great variety of commentary on different versions and sources of this piece.

18. For the original Chinese text see 小胡笳.
(Return) 8

19. 前敘; (一)鴈歸思漢; (二)吹笳訴怨; (三)無所控訴; (四)仰天長嘆;後敘。

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Appendix: Chart Tracing Xiao Hujia (compare Da Hujia)
Based mainly on Zha Fuxi's Guide 3/35/44

    (year; QQJC Vol/page)
Further information
(QQJC = 琴曲集成 Qinqu Jicheng; QF = 琴府 Qin Fu)
  1.  神奇秘譜
      (1425; I/130)
6T (1+4+1); no phrasing indicated
  2.  浙音釋字琴譜
      (<1491; I/249)
6T (1+4+1); adds lyrics; otherwise same as 1425. However, the lyrics don't match very well and the melody does not easily lend itself to singing.
  3. 風宣玄品
      (1539; II/368)
6t (1+4+1); same as 1425 but with phrasing indicated
  4. 重修真傳琴譜
      (1585; IV/492)
6T (1+4+1); lyrics as <1491; music related but different from above
  5. 希韶閣琴瑟合譜
      (1890; XXVI/462)
11T (1+9+1); lyrics; relationship with above is unclear
(adds se zither part; score not available for examination)

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