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52. Floating on the Canglang River
- Ruibin mode: 2 tighten the fifth string one position: 2 3 5 6 1 2 3
泛滄浪 1
Fan Canglang  
  Illustration from Kuian Qinpu 3 (1660) of Jiuyi Yin 4        
This title could also be translated at Floating on Clear Waters, and the same ambiguity may be found in the most famous story concerning the Canglang, related below but more closely associated with the melody Zepan Yin than it is with the present melody. In that story, connected to the famous upright scholar-official Qu Yuan (ca. 340 - 278), the Canglang is generally said to be the name of a river in Hunan.5 However, although in the Zepan Yin story Qu Yuan sings of the Canglang, he is commonly said to have drowned in the Miluo River. It is not clear whether this is a discrepancy, or whether "canglang" ("clearwater") is there used simply as an adjective describing rather than naming the river.6

In any case the present melody, Floating on the Canglang, has an entirely different theme; or perhaps two different themes. On the surface it seems to be an easygoing melody, well adapted to its stated topic, "casting aside rank and fame" and becoming one with nature. On the other hand, its connection to the following melody, #53 Xiao Xiang Shui Yun, reminds one of the political implications of the latter. This implication is emphasized by the alternate title, Jiuyi Yin (Jiuyi Mountain Prelude; see image at right). The Jiuyi mountains, through their association with Emperor Shun, evoke China's ancient glories, and so Fan Canglang, in spite of its images of escaping the world by floating on a lake, borrows from the paired melody its undercurrent of what might be called patriotic sentiment.

The melody of Fan Canglang survives in nine handbooks: seven from 1425 to 1561, but after that only in 1670 and 1876.7 As with Xiao Xiang Shui Yun, it is attributed to Guo Chuwang,8 a famous qin player who lived in Hangzhou at the end of the 12th century

The preface to Xiao Xiang Shui Yun says, "Whenever Guo wanted to look at the Jiuyi mountains they were blocked by clouds over the Xiao and Xiang rivers". The Jiuyi mountains are on the border between Hunan and Guangdong/Guangxi provinces to the south; in the southern part of the plains of central Hunan the Xiao meets the Xiang as it flows north into the eastern side of Dongting Lake. In the Song and Yuan dynasty the Canglang is said to have been a small river flowing into the Yuan river just before it entered Dongting from the west. It might be noted that if one is to picture mountains in the background, this would seem to require clear waters and a location closer to where the Xiao and Xiang meet than to a Canglang River near Dongting Lake; however, this may be applying too literal an interpretation to what is in effect a poetic reference.

The significance of the Jiuyi mountains is described further with Xiao Xiang Shui Yun. As for the Canglang, although it is a small river, Zhu Quan would perhaps have particularly liked the title Fan Canglang because of its allusion to the Qu Yuan story.

This Qu Yuan story was related in a poem called The Fisherman (see Chu Ci, The Songs of the South9). Here the unemployed and distraught Qu Yuan, wandering on a marshbank (image10), comes across a fisherman to whom he speaks his grief. The fisherman then sings a Canglang Song,11

When the water in the Canglang is clear, I can wash the tassels of my hat in it.
When the water in the Canglang is muddy, I can wash my feet in it.

Without another word the fisherman then leaves Qu Yuan.

The meaning of the poem is that when government is clean it is fine to work with it, but when it becomes dirty one should be happy to leave it. This is also conveyed by the lyrics which were added to this melody in Zheyin Shizi Qinpu, though they also focus on the joys of life on the waters.12 Zhu Quan, in a form of exile at Nanchang, would presumably have identified with these sentiments.

As for the five lakes,13 there are different accounts of what this refers to, but in this case most likely it is to Dongting, which at times has had an odd shape.

It must be added that although in Shen Qi Mi Pu this melody seems intended as a prelude to Xiao Xiang Shui Yun, and both melodies were apparently created by the same person, it is not at all certain that Fan Canglang originated as a prelude. The main evidence for this is that in several other handbooks Fan Canglang is not placed directly before Xiao Xiang Shui Yun.

In addition to my own, there are recordings of the SQMP version of Fan Canglang by Wu Wenguang and Gong Yi (two: one with xiao flute, the other with Chinese orchestra).

Original Preface14

The Emaciated Immortal says

it is said that this piece was also written by Guo Chuwang. Its topic is rowing a small boat in the five lakes, and casting aside rank and fame as if they were discarded mustard plants. (In the boat it feels as if you are) carrying the wind and moon and playing with the clouds and water; affairs of the world seem as insignificant as bubbles on the surface of the water, your Dao encompasses all of history, and your mind joins with the universe; its theme is like this.

Three sections; titles from Zheyin Shizi Qinpu

(00.00) 1. Mist and rain on the five lakes
(01.02) 2. (Treat) honor like mustard grass
(01.48) 3. Play with clouds and carry the moon in a boat
(02.43) -- harmonics
(03.01) -- Piece ends

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Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Floating on the Canglang (泛滄浪 Fan Canglang) references
References in ZWDCD include:

Fan Canglang could also be translated as Floating on Clear Waters, and that might be the intention here. For more on the Canglang River see below.

2. Ruibin mode 蕤賓調
For further information on ruibin mode see Shenpin Rujibin Yi and Modality in Early Ming Qin Tablature.

3. Kuian Qinpu illustration (QQJC XI/34)
There is no inscription or commentary. Although the melody here is called 九嶷引 Jiuyi Yin, and as mentioned in the next footnote this can be an alternate title for the same melody as here, the melody in Kuian Qinpu is unrelated.

4. Jiuyi Yin 九疑吟 (see image above)
Although Jiuyi Yin is an alternate title for Fan Canglang, Zha's Guide lists it separately, at 18/176/--, with three listings (it does not include the version in Taiyin Chuanxi, 1552). All but one are versions of Fan Canglang: see Appendix. The four melodies called Jiuyi Yin are as follows:

  1. 1561; melody similar to Fan Canglang (see in Appendix);
  2. 1552; also a version of Fan Canglang (see in Appendix)
  3. 1557; same as 1552? (see in Appendix)
  4. 1660 (written 九嶷 Jiuyi); in four sections; the image above was for it (see also below)
    This melody seems to survive only here, where it comes directly after 蒼梧怨 Cangwu Yuan. Both melodies are in jiao mode, and Jiuyi is an alternate name for Cangwu, so the two melodies may here have the same story. But neither the Cangwu Yuan nor Jiuyi Yin melodies here make any mention of Nü Ying and E Huang. This perhaps suggests that the important part of the Jiuyi Yin / Cangwu Yuan story is not that two concubines mourned for Shun, but that people look to that mountain region to evoke thoughts of China's ancient glory.

Jiuyi mountain range
This area in southern Hunan province near the Guangdong border is also called Cangwu, the name used in a musically unrelated melody,
Cangwu Yuan. However, none of the dictionary entries for Jiuyi or Cangwu includes any musical references:

173.574 九疑 Jiuyi (Nine Doubts): name of a mountain range in southern Hunan where the famous legendary emperor Yu Shun is said to be buried.
173.672 九嶷 Jiuyi (Nine Yi): same mountain range
32425.112 蒼梧 Cangwu: 1. Region of Guangxi; 2. another name for 九疑 Jiu Yi, sometimes also located in Guangdong province but today in Guangxi.
This seems to be the area closest to Hong Kong with a connection to the title of an old qin melody.

5. 滄浪水 Canglang River in Hunan (compare Miluo)
The Historical Atlas of China, Vols. VI (Song dynasty, map 63/4) and VII (Yuan dynasty, map 32/3) show a river of this name flowing into the 沅水 Yuan River just before it enters 洞庭湖 Dongting Lake from the southwest. The name Canglang does not seem to be in any of the other volumes.

On the other hand, 18460.17 滄浪 Canglang has two entries, neither associated with the above:

  1. 水名,亦作蒼浪 name of a stream/river, also written Canglang (i.e., with the grass radical instead of water radical). It goes on to give four descriptions, all variant names of or otherwise related to the 漢水 Han River in Hubei province.
  2. 水青色也 "Water clear in color", earliest reference 呂氏春秋 Lüshi Chun Qiu; next a poem by 陸機 Lu Ji in Wen Xuan.

As for 蒼浪 Canglang, 32425.77 says, "azure waters"; another name for 滄浪 Canglang rivers.

There is also a 滄浪 Canglang district in the Suzhou area.

6. See further in the Canglang River footnote above.

7. Tracing Fan Canglang
See appendix, which is based mainly on two entries in the Zha Guide:

Fan Canglang (8/85/134)
Jiuyi Yin (18/176/--)

Other Canglang melodies and/or preludes to Xiao Xiang Shui Yun seem to be either unrelated or minimally related. For example,

Jiuyi Yin is the source of the above illustration.

8. 郭楚望 Guo Chuwang
He is also connected to #53, Xiao Xiang Shui Yun.

9. Translated by David Hawkes (Penguin, p.206); see also Xu Yingchong, Poetry of the South, Hunan Publishing Co. p.163 (dual language). See the Chu Ci illustrations

10. This connects with the same story related in #56 Zepan Yin . This is retold with the four Zepan Yin illustrations. There the river seems to be called the Canglang.

11. Canglang Song (滄浪歌 Canglang Ge)
Found earlier in Mengzi (Book of Mencius). 18480.27 has 滄浪歌﹕孟子,離婁上。有孺子歌曰: Canglang song, Mengzi, Li Lou A: There is a children's song that says,

When the Canglang's water is clean I can wash my hat tassles,
When the Canglang's water is dirty I can wash my feet.
Confucius said, Listen to this, students, in clean (water) wash your tassles, in dirty (water) wash your feet; (the water's) own nature determines this.
18480.27 also mentions 楚辭,漁父 Chu Ci, The Fisherman.

12. Zheyin Shizi Qinpu lyrics
These lyrics begin,

13. Five Lakes 五湖
262.790 Most commonly it seems to be an old name of Tai Hu, a lake west of Suzhou. A famous story set here concerns the wealthy Fan Li and the beautiful Xi Shi (see the melody Chun Jiang).

14. Preface
Two other handbooks have prefaces: <1491 (basically the same as here) and 1670 (same idea). For the original Chinese text see 泛滄浪.

15. Music
The original Chinese section titles are:

1. 五湖煙雨
2. 草芥功名
3. 弄雲載月

The music in Zheyin Shizi Qinpu is identical so its lyrics can be sung here.

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Appendix: Chart Tracing Fan Canglang and Jiuyi Yin
Based mainly on
two entries in Zha Fuxi's Guide

    (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/166)
3 sections; comes before Xiao Xiang Shui Yun
  2.  浙音釋字琴譜
      (<1491; I/224)
3T; placed after Xiao Xiang Shui Yun; lyrics, otherwise same as 1425
  3. 西麓堂琴統
      (1525; III/203)
3; placed before Xiao Xiang Shui Yun; quite modified from 1425
  4. 風宣玄品
      (1539; II/337)
3; placed after Xiao Xiang Shui Yun, otherwise same as 1425 (no corrections)
  5. 琴譜正傳
      (1561; II/500)
3; called 九疑吟 Jiuyi Yin, but almost same as 1425 (no corrections of SQMP errors);
precedes Xiao Xiang Shui Yun, but is not in Wugang Qinpu and has no commentary
  6. 太音傳習
      (1552; IV/184)
3; called 九疑吟 Jiuyi Yin and placed before Xiao Xiang Shui Yun; music almost same as 1425; has preface that begins by saying Jiuyi is in 道州寧遠縣 Ningyuan County of Daozhou (Yongzhou prefecture?), adding that Guo Chuwang created it; it then tacks on the preface from 1425
  7. 太音補遺
      (1557; III/402)
3; called 九疑吟 Jiuyi Yin and placed before Xiao Xiang Shui Yun; the preface begins the same as 1552, but omits the quote from 1425; music seems same
  8. 琴苑新傳全編
      (1670; XI/435)
3; almost same as 1425, but placed before Ruibin Yu Ge (Xiao Xiang Shui Yun is at XI/430, after Yu Ge)
  9. 天聞閣琴譜
      (1876; XXV/566)
3; "from 1670";
its Xiao Xiang Shui Yun, from 1739, is two pieces earlier in the QQJC edition

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