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096. Jade Sheng, Heavenly Crane
- Yu mode, 2 standard tuning: 5 6 1 2 3 5 6
Yao Tian Sheng He
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The earliest surviving biography of Wangzi Qiao, in the Biographies of Immortals (probably late Han), has details of this.8 The preface to Yao Tian Sheng He is largely a quote from the first half of his entry in this volume. The complete biography, which is quoted in the Yuefu Shiji,9 is as follows.
In some editions this is followed by a poem.13 Yuefu Shiji does not have this poem, but it does include five sets of lyrics about Wangzi Qiao.14 The second of these, by Jiang Yan (444-505),15 can be sung to the music of section 8 of the present melody.16 However, the pairing of these lyrics to the music does not quite fit the then-standard practice of one character for each right hand stroke or left hand pluck. 17
The earliest known mention of Wangzi Qiao is perhaps in the Chu Ci (Chu Lyrics) poem Yuan You (also a qin melody), traditionally attributed to Song Yu (ca. 290- ca. 223). On line 54 the author speaks of "following Wang(zi) Qiao for pleasure", apparently suggesting a search for immortality; and on lines 61/2 he speaks of asking Wangzi "about the balance made by unifying essence."18
Modern scholarship suggests that the poem Yuan You was not written until well into the Han dynasty. Another Chu Ci poem, this one probably dating from the late Han dynasty, describes Wangzi Qiao and another immortal, Chisongzi, as playing the se 52-string zither.19
Other than my own I know of no recordings of this melody. 20
Nine sections, untitled; timings follow my recording 聽錄音
04.52 8. (The lyrics below are sung on the recording)
06.10 Closing harmonics
Lyrics (further detail)
The following lyrics by Jiang Yan can be sung (and are done so on the above recording) with Section 8 (compare alternate reading):
The following translation has a syllable count allowing it also to be sung with the present melody (compare this literal one, which also translates the two alternate readings):
Present tense used because Wangzi Qiao is an immortal; "face" (instead of "faces") and "on" (instead of "on a") are poetic license due to syllable number requirements. In performance I may sing the English version as a prelude.
Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)
Jade Sheng, Heavenly Crane (瑤天笙鶴 Yao Tian Sheng He
21646.xx, but 4/618 瑤天 yao tian says it describes the beauty of the heavens or refers to an abode of the immortals; 21646.43 瑤笙 yaosheng says it can make the sound of a crane; there are several poetic references, but none mentions Wangzi Qiao. For sheng he 笙鶴 26531.22 says 仙鶴名 the name of an immortal crane (also used in Yunzhong Sheng He). 5961.1343 天鶴座 tianhe zuo is the name of a constellation. 姚品文 Yao Pinwen's 朱權研究 Study of Zhu Quan (Nanchang, 1993), pp.251-2, discusses an opera by Zhu Quan entitled Yao Tian Sheng He; the libretto is lost, but it describes the present story.
Yu mode (羽調 yu diao)
Yu mode uses standard tuning treated as 5 6 1 2 3 5 6, with 6 as the main tonal center and 3 as the secondary one, making it a sort of pentatonic minor mode. For more on this mode see Shenpin Yu Yi as well as Modality in Early Ming Qin Tablature.
王子喬 Wangzi Qiao
21295.39/1 王子喬 says Wangzi Qiao is the name of a melody (q.v.), then it quotes a passage from the 古今樂錄 Gujin Yuelu. /2 has his biography. It says his name was 晉 Jin (Wangzi Jin), his original surname was 姬 Ji (same surname given the Yellow Emperor), and he became a commoner. It then relates basically the same information given in Liexian Zhuan (see below). It also has an illustration of Wangzi Qiao on a crane. Giles 2240 has mostly the same information. (He is also mentioned in the section titles of Yuan You.) And his nickname 桐柏真人 Tongbo Zhenren associates him with the Tongbo Palace in the Tiantai Mountains.
Wang Ziqiao (?)
This is almost certainly incorrect, although Yuefu Shiji does sometimes write of him as 子喬 Ziqiao. 21295.23/1 says 王子 wangzi means "son of a king"; /2 says it is a double surname. Early sources may also refer to him as 王子 Wangzi or 王喬 Wang Qiao (see the 楚辭 Chu Ci),
4. 3597.904 周靈王 Zhou Ling Wang does not mention a surname. (Return)
嵩山 Song Shan
Songshan, in Henan province south of Luoyang, is one of the "Five Sacred Mountains". It is connected to a number of melodies and people on this website.
|6. Goushi Mountain (緱氏 Goushi)||Image from EpochTimes|
As for the marker at right, I cannot find mention of when it was built. The original Epoch Times article by 牟梅 Mou Mei accompanying the image is entitled, "緱氏山—太子升仙處 Goushi Mountain - where the heir apparent ascended into immortality." The text adds that the marker is in 河南省 Henan Province 洛陽東南40公里 40 km southeast of Luoyang, 處偃師市府店鎮南 placed south of Fudian Zhen in Yanshi township, and that the elevation of Goushi Shan is only 308 meters above sea level. On maps Fudian Zhen seems to be in a relatively flat area midway between Luoyang and Zhengzhou, north of Songshan. Thus a quote added to the online text seems quite appropriate: "山不在高，有仙則名 Mountains are not only about height: they are only famous if immortals live there." This quote, from a poem by 劉禹錫 Liu Yuxi, is also used as lyrics for the melody Loushi Ming.
Ascending into immortality
Alan Berkowitz, Patterns of Disengagement, p. 50, says the aim of an immortal was "existence beyond that which mortal men could normally expect. This goal eventually is reached either by leaving the world behind and joining the empyreal ranks of the godlike, or by staying in the world and achieving the state in which the body also becomes divinely transcendent....Chisongzi and Wangzi Qiao (are examples) of the former." 赤 松 子 Chisongzi, according to Giles, was "A being who controlled the rain and wind in the legendary age of Shen Nung. Among other feats, he was able to pass unharmed through fire." (See also 37843.105). According to Yü Ying-Shih, "Life and Immortality in the Mind of Han China." Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 25 (1964-5), pp.80-122, immortality cults became very important after the Qin unified China and many 方士 fangshi came to the capital. Gradually the emphasis was placed on extending life in the present world.
The Biographies of Immortals (列仙傳
This book was traditionally attributed to 劉向 Liu Xiang (ca.79-ca.06 BCE); modern scholarship suggests that it was probably written one or two centuries later. See Nienhauser, Companion, p.566. The biography is in Liexian Zhuan, A.1, A.23-24.
Wangzi Qiao entry in Liexian Zhuan
This biography of Wangzi Qiao from Liexian Zhuan is also included in 樂府詩集 Yuefu Shiji, Folio 29, p.437. Here it quotes the original as follows:
In Liexian Zhuan this is followed by a poem
(below), but in Yuefu Shiji it is followed instead by different lyrics, by five people (also below).
10. The 伊 Yi and 洛 Luo rivers join just east of Luoyang, then flow into the Yellow River. (Return)
|11. Master Fuqiu (see also Pei Lan)||Master Fuqiu (right) with Wangzi Qiao (expand)|
The brick at right shows Fuqiu Gong at right greeting Wangzi Qiao, who plays a sheng mouth organ. Replicas of the original, a 5th-6th brick unearthed east of Nanyang City, Henan (河南鄧縣學莊 Henan, Deng County, Xue village), are displayed for sale on the internet.
Huan Liang 桓良
15061.xxx. I have not yet found any other references to him.
Poem at the end of the Liexian Zhuan entry for Wangzi Qiao
The poem is as follows,
Not yet translated.
梁江淹 Jiang Yan of Liang (444-505)
Yuefu Shiji lyrics about Wangzi Qiao
Yuefu Shiji, pp. 437 - 439, after the biography of Wangzi Qiao from Liexian Zhuan, has five Wangzi Qiao poems, ordered chronologically:
Most of these have not been translated.
Pairing Jiang Yan lyrics about Wangzi Qiao to music in Yao Tian Sheng He
Of the lyrics from Yuefu Shiji just mentioned, those that fit best with a part of the Yao Tian Sheng He melody are those by Jiang Yan; they consist of four couplets, i.e., their character structure is (5+5) x 4. The stroke count of section eight of Yao Tian Sheng He is 5+5, 7+4, 5+6, 8+5; the note count is 9+6, 8+6, 8+6, 9+10. Having more notes than strokes or characters does not fit with the then-standard practice of having one character for each right hand stroke or left hand pluck. However, by using more than one stroke/note per character in three phrases, and pairing one character to a slide in another phrase, the melody and lyrics can be matched quite musically without changing any notes.
The singable translation above was made after the recording. Using it I often sing the melody of Section 8 in English as a prelude, then sing it in Chinese to accompany Section 8. When sung in English the rhythm tends to be slightly different with, in particular, several notes held longer. A literal translation into English requires more syllables, and thus cannot be sung with this melody in a natural way. My own tentative literal translation (including for the two alternate readings) is as follows,
My uncertainty at the end between "would return" and "will return" is based on uncertainty as to whether the author thinks that Wangzi Qiao is unlikely to return (why would he?), or that once Wangzi Qiao is on a dragon, not just a bird, he will come riding back in glory.
This poem, but with two characters that are different, has commentary and translation by Zornica Kirkova in her Roaming into the Beyond: Representations of Xian Immortality in the Context of the Human World; Brill, 2016, pp.318-319. The two alternate characters are due to her using a different edition of the poem, the one in 南齊文紀巻十 Folio 10 of the Literary Records of the Southern Qi, as editeded in the Ming dynasty by 梅鼎祚 Mei Dingzuo and preserved in the 欽定四庫全書 Qinding Siku Quan Shu.
The alternate reading is as follows (compare YFSJ version):
Translating this other version while keeping the same syllable count requires making only minor changes in the last line:
Regarding "falter", Dr. Kirkova writes that there are many stories of people faltering (hesitating) before making that last step into immortality.
Further regarding "蘭 lan", today it is usually translated as "orchid" but there is debate as to what this word meant in ancient China (see further). As for "thousand-year lan", in a brief translation it does not seem possible precisely to convey the distinction between lan that remain in bloom for a thousand years from ones that regenerate for this amount of time.
The binome 窈窕 yaotiao suggests a remote region (or a demure/graceful lady), with some dictionaries having "arcadia"; 49812.530 龍駕 long jia identifies it as a "雲神駕龍 cloud spirit riding a dragon", a “神駕雲龍之車 cart for a spirit riding cloud dragon”, or a “天子之駕 imperial chariot”.
Near fit of lyrics and music
In almost all other qin handbooks if a qin melody has lyrics it has them all the way through. And in virtually all of them the pairing follows a standard formula. Xilutang Qintong, by contrast, not only has several melodies with lyrics in only a few sections (further detail), it also has several further melodies with sections to which lyrics could be added folllowing this formula (e.g. in Han Gong Qiu) or a close version of it (as here).
At present one can only speculate on the significance of this. Was there an actual tradition of melodies with songs in only one section, or was this just the idea of one person or a few people? (These songs when published elsewhere have no lyrics). Perhaps it is because I like these pieces so much that I imagine players in the past taking pieces that they liked and either mixing in a section with lyrics or revising one of the existing sections so that lyrics could be sung (or: start with a song then build an instrumental melody around it). If the results were then published the lyrics would have to be paired so that they fit the standard formula, but if not published perhaps the rules were not so strict. (N.B., Although the poem's inclusion in the Yuefu Shiji suggests it was originally a song, there this no evidence to suggest that the present melody has any connection with any melody or melodies that might have originally been associated with any Yuefu melodies.)
18. See David Hawkes, Songs of the South, pp. 195 and 200. Hawkes says Wangzi Qiao is not mentioned in any pre-Han source. (Return)
19. See Sorrow for Troth Betrayed (惜誓 Xi Shi) in David Hawkes, Songs of the South, p.240. His translation says, "the two Masters held zithers tuned in perfect concord (while he) sang the Qing Shang air". For Chisongzi, see footnote 6 above. (Return)
20. The music is too rushed in the recording and I need to do it over. (Return)
The original Chinese is as follows:
Return to the annotated handbook list or to the Guqin ToC.