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27. Longing to Return Prelude
- Standard tuning:2 5 6 1 2 3 5 6 played as 1 2 4 5 6 1 2
思歸引 1
Si Gui Yin    
  A 19th century impression of Shi Chong at his estate3    
"Longing to Return" means "Longing to Return Home". This is true both accounts related in the preface to this song. The first tells of the virtuous Woman of Wei (in ancient times a small kingdom in what is today Henan province), who commits suicide when not allowed to return home;4 the second concerns Shi Chong (249-300), who is credited with having created the poem that provides the lyrics for this song.5 These lyrics express Shi Chong's longing to return to his estate in Heyang (north of the Yellow River, across from Luoyang, also in Henan).

The only other setting for qin of these lyrics is in Chongxiu Zhenchuan Qinpu (1585), which has the same lyrics but somewhat different music.6 Meanwhile, a Longing to Return Intonation (also pronounced Si Gui Yin but with the character "yin" meaning "intonation") seems to occur only once, in 1557, where it is applied to an unrelated melody also known as Huai Gu Yin.7

The lyrics attributed to Shi Chong are included in the guqin melody section of Yuefu Shiji; the entry there begins with several prefaces, then has lyrics by three poets, Shi Chong himself, Liu Xiaowei (496-549) and then Zhang Hu (8th c.). Details of this entry are as follows.

Yuefu Shiji, Folio 58, #1, Si Gui Yin.8

Also called Leave Detention Melody (Li Ju Cao).9

Qin Cao says,10 ....
(The account here, copied almost verbatim in the 1511 preface, tells of a woman who is compared to the Virtuous Woman of Wei but who commits suicide after being detained against her will.)

Shi Chong's Si Gui Yin Preface says,11
"When Chong was young he had great ambition; later he enjoyed taking it easy. (The rest of this account is also copied below almost verbatim in the 1511 preface)

(To this someone, presumably Guo Maoqian himself, adds):
"But these thoughts of returning (si gui) are to Heyang and so concern a different matter" (than that of the woman who commited suicide because she could not go home).

Yuefu Jieti says,12
"Perhaps Liu Xiaowei of Liang's「胡地憑良馬」(the lyrics that begin his poem below) neatly state the attitude of someone longing to return." (Poem not yet translated; not mentioned in the 1511 preface.)

According to what the Qin Lun of Xie Xiyi (Xie Zhuang) 13 said:
"Jizi wrote Li Ju Cao." (Here the text is a bit different from what is in the 1511 preface.)

(Closing comment:)
This does not say that the Woman of Wei wrote it, and we cannot grasp the real story.

Yuefu Shiji then has the poem/lyrics attributed to Shi, followed by the two others with the same title. These other two are as follows,

Liu Xiaowei (496-549)

(Not yet translated)

Zhang Hu (8th c.)

(Not yet translated.)

There is an entry in Wen Xuan entitled Longing to Return Prelude (Si Gui Yin Xu), by Shi Chong.14 The Yuefu Shiji preface attributed to Shi Chong seems to be a condensed version of this. In the preface Shi Chong, after saying he worked in office for 25 years, describes his estate at Heyang. He then writes that his family had musicians there and that while there he himself enjoyed playing qin and reading books. However, he adds, he is now away from this and longs to return. Having heard a melody called Prelude to Longing to Return, in which men of old expressed the same feelings as his, he decided to write lyrics for the melody. He ends by lamenting that he could not find anyone knowledgeable enough to create a new melody for it, and set it for string and bamboo instruments. What Shi Chong wrote here suggests that whatever string melody he may have found was lost by then.

Perhaps the most consistent conclusion one can draw from all of this is that the original melody concerned a woman of Wei, but then Shi Chong added lyrics about his own longing to return home. However, for this to apply here would require the melody to predate Shi Chong, and there is no evidence for this. So in the end we can only read all the stories, then imagine the actual source of the present melody as well as when and how it came to be paired with these lyrics.

The preface here follows the same basic outline as in Yuefu Shiji (q.v.), but omits the Yuefu Jieti comments and shortens some of the others.

According to Qin Cao, There was a virtuous woman of Wei. The king of Shao (Zhao) was betrothed to her, but before she arrived the king died. The heir apparent said, "I have heard that Duke Huan of Qi having Wei Ji (Wei as his concubine?) became all powerful. This woman of Wei is virtuous; I would like to keep her with me." His prime minister said, "This is impermissible. If she is virtuous it must be that she will not go along with what we say; if she goes along with what we say it must be that she is not so virtuous." The heir apparent went ahead and kept her, with the result that she was not obedient. She was detained deep inside the palace, where she played qin and created this (melody), then strangled herself and died.

Shi Chong of Jin said, "In ancient times there was a Si Gui Yin to be played on strings but without lyrics, so I have created lyrics for it." But these thoughts of returning (si gui) are to Heyang and so concern a different matter" (than the suicide of this girl, who could not go home),

The Qin Lun of Xie Xiyi (Xie Zhuang) said, "In olden days there was a Li Ju Cao." It did not concern the Woman of Wei and we cannot grasp it.

Music and lyrics 16
One section, with a largely syllabic setting of the Yuefu Shiji poem by Shi Chong. Except for one 5-character line, the lyric structure mixes lines of 3+3 with lines of 7 syllables. A repeated punctuation mark here means that the tablature says, "再作 play again". There is no indication of whether the lyrics should be sung during the repeated musical phrase.

(泛音起 harmonics begin)
Si gui yin, gui He Yang. ......
(My) Longing to Return Prelude, (refers to) returning to Heyang,

Ge yu yi, hong yan gao fei xiang.
It is as if I have wings, like the geese and cranes flying high around.

Jing Mang Fu, ji He liang.
Passing Mangfu (hills near Luoyang), crossing a bridge over the (Yellow) River,

Wang wo jiu guan xin yue kang.
On seeing my old house my heart is joyful.
(泛音止 Harmonics end)

Qing qu ji, yu pang huang.
Clear water overflows from canals, and fish frolic.

Yan jing su bo qun xiang jiang. .......
(Swimming) geese are startled as they struggle against the tide, the flock encouraging each other.

Zhong ri zhou lan le wu fang.
All day long I gaze around and my joy has no limit. (comment)

Deng yun ge, lie Ji Jiang
Climbing to the Chamber in the Clouds, (I find an array of) exemplary women,

Fu si zhu, kou gong shang.
Tapping on string and bamboo instuments,
(harmonics begin           beating out musical notes.

Yan Yao Chi, zhuo yu shang.
Feast at the Heavenly Pool, and fill our jade wine-cups.

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. (QQJC I/307) Longing to Return Prelude (思歸引 Si Gui Yin)
My understanding of the Shi Chong poem and its background was greatly assisted by "The Estate of Shi Chong", an article sent to me in November 2011 by David Knechtges and subsequently published, as "Estate Culture in Early Medieval China: The Case of Shi Chong", in Early Medieval China: a Sourcebook, Columbia University Press, 2012, edited by Wendy Swartz, Robert Ford Campany, Yang Lu and Jessey Choo.

10734.260 思歸引 Si Gui Yin says it is a qin melody also called Li Ju Cao (離拘操 Leave Detention Melody); there is no mention of a 離鸞操 Li Luan Cao. It quotes the Yuefu Shiji preface (which gave Li Ju Cao as an alternate title), Qin Cao, and another poem of this title said to be in the Old Yuefu. Si Gui Yin is in various melody lists, such as here, as well as being the fourth prelude in Qin Cao.

Variants on the title "Longing to Return" can be found elsewhere. References on this site include the phrase Confucius Longs to Return (仲尼思歸 Zhongni Si Gui) in Cai Yong's Rhapsody on the Qin (see further comment below). And Qinshu Daquan Folio 13 includes amongst its list of melodies quite a few with "Longing to Return" in the title. These are, in order:

  1. Si Gui Cao (思歸操)
  2. Si Gui Zuo (思歸作)
  3. Si Gui Yin (思歸引)
  4. Si Gui Tan (思歸彈)
  5. another Si Gui Cao
  6. another Si Gui Tan
  7. Ying Ke Si Gui (郢客思歸)

Some of these are also in the Qin Yuan Yao Lü . However, the only Longing to Return Intonation (思歸吟 Si Gui Yin) I have found is the melody mentioned below.

2. Tuning and mode
Taigu Yiyin does not group pieces by mode. My transcription treats the first string as do (1). This makes melody largely pentatonic (using the notes do re mi so la, i.e., 1 2 3 5 6), though fa (4) occurs 3 times. Most phrases end on 5 or 2, making these the primary tonal centers. However, in the closing harmonics the tonal center changes to 1. The mode closest to having these characteristics is zhi diao.

3. Shi Chong at Jingu? (full scroll)
The image, taken from an online auction site, identifies it as 白色緞顧繡石崇金谷園圖軸 清嘉慶 (1796-1821) an anonymous early 19th century painting of Shi Chong at Jin Gu, his more famous estate. There have been many paintings of Shi Chong's estate.

4. 衛女 Woman of Wei
衛女 34896.8 Young woman from Wei 衛賢女 34896.xxx (Virtuous Woman of Wei). In my commentary on the entry in Qin Shi #52 I have not been able completely to clarify her details.

5. 石崇 Shi Chong
A wealthy man of Henan with two famous villas, one in 金谷 Jin Gu for luxurious banquets, and a more personal one at 河陽 Heyang (north of the Yellow River). See further.

6. Tracing Si Gui Yin (see tracing chart)
Zha's Guide 14/146/253 lists this only here and in 1585, but it is also used as the title of at least one version of Huai Gu Yin (next).

7. Longing to Return Intonation (思歸吟 Si Gui Yin
This piece is better known as Cherish Antiquity Intonation (懷古吟 Huai Gu Yin), though in its earliest known publication it was called Calmly Expansive Intonation (夷曠吟 Yikuang Yin). It is discussed here under the Huai Gu Yin of 1525.

8. Chinese edition p. 838

9. Leave Detention Melody (離拘操 Li Ju Cao)
43079.xxx. The 拘 ju in the title is the same word used to describe the Woman of Wei's situation in the palace: 拘於深宮 she was detained deep inside it. Presumably, having played "Longing to Return (Home)" on the qin she left this detention by hanging herself. This title can be found in some melody lists, e.g., here, but it is not in Qin Cao and there is no reason to assume it had any melodic connection to the present Si Gui Yin,

10. Qin Cao Preface in Yuefu Shiji
Si Gui Yin is one of the Nine Preludes in the Qin Cao attributed to Cai Yong. The preface in the Qin Cao as included in TKW Qin Fu, p. 744, is almost the same, adding at the front "衛女之所作也 it was created by Wei Nü" (see Qin Shi #52.); a double column commentary then says, "一曰離物操。案古交苑蔡邕琴賦注琴操有離鸞。離物疑即離鸞之譌。", i.e., that it was also called Li Wu Cao but that Liwu was a mistake for Li Luan. Li Luan is actually a title listed in Qin Li as well as in an alternate list of Qin Cao.

The Qin Cao preface as copied in Yuefu Shiji is:

11. Shi Chong Preface in Yuefu Shiji
The Shi Chong preface here is:
To this is added: 但思歸河陽別業,與《琴操》異也。

12. Yuefu Jieti comment in Yuefu Shiji
The original Chinese is:

13. Xie Xiyi comment in Yuefu Shiji
For Li Ju Cao see above.
The original Chinese here is:
To this is added: 不言衛女作,未知孰是。

14. Shi Chong's Preface to Si Gui Yin (思歸引序 Si Gui Yin Xu)
See the Haixiao Chubanshiye edition of Wen Xuan, pp. 2187-9. It is not clear to me why the poem itself was not included.

The original text of the preface in Wen Xuan is as follows:

This preface, as well as the Shi Chong poem, are translated in the article by David Knechteges mentioned above. In another preface, also translated by David Knechtges, Shi Chong describes a scene at his estate at Jin'Gu, outside of Luoyang, where numerous guests wrote poems during an event in 296 CE that sounds very much like a 修禊 Xiu Xi (see Xiuxi Yin): if the poems were not adequate the guests had to drink a measure of wine. The preface mentions that there were music instruments playing there, including "琴瑟笙筑": qin, se, sheng mouth organ and zhu bowed zither.

15. Original preface
The original Chinese preface in Taigu Yiyin is somewhat abridged from Yuefu Shiji (see above). Its text is as follows:


16. Original lyrics
Regarding the arrangement of the lines after the present one, the overall rhythming pattern of these lyrics suggests that the last six phrases of the melody should considered as [3+3] x 3 . By tying this with the previous 7-character phrase it is possible to arrange the musical rhythm so that the melody ends with a neat 4-line passage that follows the rhyme, as follows:
However, the musical phrasing in the 1511 tablature, with the last three phrases played in 泛音 harmonics, the tonal center changing there to do, and the fingering paralleling that of the three previous phrases, suggests that 終日周覽樂無方 was intended to connect musically with the previous line, and then the melody should end with two lines arranged as [3+3+3] x 2 , as follows:
Qin tablature indicates only how to play the notes, thereby specifying pitch but not directly indicating note values (rhythm), which would have been learned from the teacher. Based largely on my own understanding of the lyrics (there is more flexibility in interpreting the music) my tendency is to prefer the former interpretation.

Regarding the "exemplary women" (列姬姜 lie Ji Jiang), this is stated by referring to two famous women mentioned in the Biographies of Exemplary Women (列女傳 Lienü Zhuan): 莊樊姬 Fan Ji wife of King Zhuang of Chu and 姜后 Queen Jiang, wife of the King of Zhou.

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Appendix: Chart Tracing 思歸引 Si Gui Yin
Further comment
above; based mainly on Zha Fuxi's Guide 14/146/253

    (year; QQJC Vol/page)
Further information
(QQJC = 琴曲集成 Qinqu Jicheng; QF = 琴府 Qin Fu)
  1. 謝琳太古遺音
      (1511; I/289)
1; lyrics
18. 太音補遺
      (1557; III/328)
3; 思歸吟 Si Gui Yin (different yin; no lyrics);
This melody, found only here, is actually a version of Huai Gu Yin
    . 新刊正文對音捷要
      (1573; #29)
Same as 1585?
  2. 重修真傳琴譜
      (1585; IV/409)
1; same lyrics as 1511 but somewhat different music

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