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ZCWQP   ToC     /   Qin and the seasons 首頁
Spring Dawn in a Grotto-Heaven
Standard tuning, gong mode ( 5 6 1 2 3 5 6 ) 2
洞天春曉 1
Dongtian Chun Xiao 
  Dongtian Chun Xiao illustration from Kuian Qinpu 3        
Grotto-heavens, also mentioned in the melody title Cranes Dance in a Grotto-Heaven, should be remote scenic areas, otherworldly in appearance and at best having good geomantic properties. In many parts of China today there are still many places claiming such properties.4 Some are natural areas, though usually over the years greatly modified by human hand; others are completely artificial, having been built into private gardens. Grotto-heavens are also a popular theme in literati painting, and one might naturally assume that they should be good places to play the qin.

This particular evocation of a grotto-heaven, Dongtian Chun Xiao, is the third melody in Zangchunwu Qinpu (1602); it follows the modal prelude Shenpin Gong Yi,5 as well as the short Harmonious Spirit Intonation (He Qi Yin6), the three of them seeming to form a set. This assumption is supported by commentary inserted here in the 1602 handbook between Shenpin Gong Yi and He Qi Yin.7 The commentary mostly concerns the qin player Shen Taishao and his creation of these two titled melodies.

The same commentary also mentions the third melody in this handbook attributed to Shen, Xishan Qiu Yue (compare Jishan Qiu Yue), but not the fourth, Feng Xiang Xiao Han.

Although He Qi Yin does not appear in any later handbooks, during the Qing dynasty Dongtian Chunxiao became one of the most common, surviving in 28 handbooks from 1602 to 1946.8 Nevertheless, it is not at all clear how widely it was actually played. Truly popular melodies tend to develop considerably over the years, but my preliminary examination of the various versions of Dongtian Chunxiao through 1802 (I have not yet seen any of those published after that date) suggests they all have a remarkable similarity.

According to Zha's Guide, none of the versions has section titles (but see 17029) and only four (1602, 1705, 1722 and 1914) have direct commentary, none after this earliest one seeming to mention Shen Taishao. In addition none of the commentaries says anything about the significance of the title.

My present working assumption is that Shen Taishao either created this melody or gave it its earliest full form; one might speculate that there is a connection between the fact that he was living (and teaching) in Beijing and the fact that modally his version stands out for the many occurrences of non-pentatonic notes, in particular the note fa (see further). Shen's student Yan Cheng learned it and developed his own version, often changing fa to mi; the other early Yushan school qin master Xu Hong almost completely eliminated the instances of fa, and in this form (see 1673) it subsequently became a melody particularly associated with the Yushan School.

 

 
Original preface10
This handbook, published in 1602, has some relevant comments (original Chinese) after the modal prelude, but prefaces specifically for this melody can only be found in three later handbooks.

 
Music 11
18 sections, untitled

 
Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Spring Dawn in a Grotto Heaven (洞天春曉 Dongtian Chun Xiao) (VI/294)
17777.9-13 and 5/1143 have various dongtian but no qin reference or mention of this title. For Chun Xiao see under Chunxiao Yin. Other melodies also mention either dongtian or chunxiao (e.g., He Wu Dongtian and Chun Xiao Yin), but there seems to be no musical connection.

Perhaps there is some relevance with 洞天福地 Dongtian Fudi (Grotto Paradise, a Daoist term): elsewhere Dongtian Chun Xiao is associated in some way with these Daoist grotto paradises. (See appendix.)
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2. Gong mode (宮調 gongdiao)
Standard tuning, here 5 6 1 2 3 5 6, in some other modes is considered as 1 2 4 5 6 1 2. For further information on gong mode see Shenpin Gong Yi and Modality in Early Ming Qin Tablature.
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3. Kuian Qinpu Illustration (QQJC XI/7)
The illustration above, which has no inscription, is placed directly below an illustration that seems to serve for the whole book.
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4. Grotto-Heavens in China
An internet search for "洞天" or "grotto-heaven" emphasizes the places that are tourist attractions.
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5. Celestial Air Introducing the Gong mode (神品宮意 Shenpin Gong Yi)
See also gong mode above. The gong modal prelude from 1602 is a relatively long version drawing on several earlier versions.
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6. Harmonious Spirit Intonation (和氣吟 He Qi Yin)
3600.163 only heqi: friendly; yin and yang in balance. This melody title only here (see in ToC).
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7. Commentary between Shenpin Gong Yi and He Qi Yin
This commentary, which mostly concerns Shen Taishao, is as follows (not yet translated):

沈子,越人也。諱音,號太韶。自髫切好先王之樂。每遇景柳琴游於林泉蒼松修竹之間,對客泠泠然,追慕伯牙子期之趣。

斯時明月懸空清風和暢與客酌酒。欣然沈醉借榻于山僧之舍。倏然一夢,恍若蓬萊,有一石洞,步入視之,見一老叟撫琴。予問曰,「翁撫何曲?」答曰,「中和之曲」。予又問曰:「此何處也?」叟答曰,「洞天之所」。予即拜別,深得意味,不覺鐘鳴驚悟。嘆曰,「此夢非凡也。」故作此《和氣吟》,並《洞天春曉》入宮調,而有萬物育生之意。作《谿山秋月》入角調。有御風淩雲之志耳。中州窺玄子郝寧識。

The final sentence, which could be translated "As known by the Henan enquirer into mysteries Hao Ning", is written under the title for He Qi Yin.
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8. Tracing Dongtian Chunxiao
Zha Guide (28/223/--) lists 28 handbooks to 1946, as follows:

  1. 藏春塢琴譜 (1602; VI/294; many occurrences of fa)
  2. 陽春堂琴譜 (1611; VII/354; partially written using decimal system, but not consistent)
  3. 松絃館琴譜 (1614; VIII/73; earliest Yushan school handbook; fewer fa but still many)
  4. 思齊堂琴譜 (1620; IX/17)
  5. 樂仙琴譜     (1623; VIII/442; largely a copy of 1611)
  6. 徽言秘旨     (1647; X/55; 1692 same)
  7. 愧菴琴譜     (1660; XI/7; illustration: see above)
  8. 臣卉堂琴譜 (1663; XI/119)
  9. 大還閣琴譜 (1673; X/328; after 1611 the second most important Yushan school handbook; most fa changed to mi)
  10. 德音堂琴譜 (1691; XII/473)
  11. 琴譜析微     (1692; XIII/40)
  12. 蓼懷堂琴譜 (1702; XIII/185; each section subtitled)
  13. 誠一堂琴譜 (1705; XIII/327; first with commentary)
  14. 五知齋琴譜 (1722; XIV/422; introduces "省 short rests" in opening phrase)
  15. 臥雲樓琴譜 (1722; XV/; facsimile)
  16. 蘭田館琴譜 (1755; XVI/188)
  17. 琴香堂琴譜 (1760; XVII/21)
  18. 自遠堂琴譜 (1802; XVII/300; copy of 1722 五知齋)
  19. 裛露軒琴譜 (>1802; XIX/; "熟派 Yushan school"; "copy of 1722 五知齋")
  20. 琴譜諧聲     (1820; XX/)
  21. 琴學軔端     (1828; XX/)
  22. 鄰鶴齋琴譜 (1830; XXI/)
  23. 悟雪山房琴譜 (1836; XXII/)
  24. 天聞閣琴譜 (1876; XXV/ , but not in ToC on p. 171ff of Zha's Guide, or the Columbia University edition)
  25. 天籟閣琴譜 (1876; XXI/)
  26. 響雪齋琴譜 (1876; ???/)
  27. 希韶閣琴譜 (1878; XXVI/)
  28. 詩夢齋琴譜 (1914; ???/)
  29. 沙堰琴編     (1946; XXIX/)

Four handbooks include commentary on Dongtian Chunxiao:

  1. 1602; (after Shenpin Gong Yi [中文]; details above)
  2. 1705 (XIII/327; "溫舒廣大 calm-carefree and vast"),
  3. 1722 (XIV/422; preface: "its beauty is calm and soothing"; afterword: "洵古調 truly an old melody", but difficult)
  4. 1914 ("最難得其冲和古淡之意 very difficult to attain its diffuse and anciently subtle meaning").

The 1705 comment comes from the Record of the Historian, Book of Music, description of the effect of listening to melodies in gong mode ("聞宮音使人溫舒而廣大").
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9. Subtitles in 蓼懷堂琴譜 (1702)
In Liaohuaitang Qinpu each section has a subtitle written in small print after the section number, as follows:

  1. 啓明清旦 (The planet) Venus is visible at dawn
  2. 金雞三唱 A golden pheasant crows three times
  3. 月淡星稀 The moon and stars are faint and scattered
  4. 玉殿鐘鳴 From a jade palace a clock strikes
  5. 群仙朝會 A crowd of immortals meets at dawn
  6. 鸞鳳和鳴 Male and female phoenix call out together
  7. 光含萬象 A brightness encompasses myriad images
  8. 鶴舞洞天 Cranes Dance in a Grotto Heaven
  9. 九皋聲徹 Sounds penetrate the nine marshpools
  10. 仙珮迎風 Fairy jade in the Wind
  11. 九霄步虛 In the ninth layer of heaven strolling in emptiness
  12. 風雲際會 Wind and clouds happen to meet
  13. 萬樹桃花 Myriad trees with peach blossoms
  14. ____ (? None)
  15. 金雞離海 A golden pheasant emerges from the sea
  16. 玉兔西沈 The jade rabbit (i.e., the moon) sinks in the west
  17. 彩霞萬叠 Rosy clouds in myriad layers
  18. 雲迎旭日 Clouds welcome the rising sun

Zha's Guide does not include them and I have not yet found them in any other handbook.
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10. Original preface
The Chinese original of the commentary prior to He Qi Yin is not yet online.
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11. Music
In 2010 I transcribed this earliest version and compared it with later ones, 1611 and 1614 in particular. The major differences are of ornamentation and, in early editions, the interpretation of certain notes as either mi or fa. As I comment with the 1614 version of the melody Autumn River Night Anchorage, an increased appearance of fa seems to have been a significant modal trend in certain handbooks published around 1600; and as with that melody, once again here the occurrence of fa seems to diminish or disappear in the later versions. Most notably the version in the earliest Yushan handbook, 1611, has many occurrences of fa, but these are almost all changed to mi in its successor, 1673.

Interpreting this is complicated by some confusion in the finger position indications (e.g., 六七 or 六半 vs 六下). For some reason the old system, quite capable of precision if used properly (see comment under the decimal system), was by 1600 no longer being used with precision. In fact, one might speculate that it was a resulting confusion that led to the introduction (perhaps in Yangchuntang Qinpu, 1611) of a decimal system for indicating finger positions. Unfortunately, the earliest use of this system was not yet very precise.

A cursory examination of the later versions (listed above) suggests that this melody relatively unchanged at least through 1802. This perhaps suggests that, although it was considered a very important piece, it was not widely played, perhaps because of its difficulty: players had to continually refer back to earlier tablature rather than simply play it from memory.

There has been some online commentary that discusses the music in Chinese only, but the main example I have seen of this has since been removed.
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Appendix

The following, found on the internet, may be relevant. It mentions Dongtian Chunxiao right after Eight Views of Guishan, but I am not sure of the connection.

溈山探幽之二 Exploring the hidden Mount Gui (in Hunan), #2
  文/姚武飛

既然無法從風水角度探索出溈山稱為瓷業發祥地的理由,舊只好轉而去琢磨樊公廟遺址上側的古洞天。

古洞天是這座寺廟現在的名字,按照典籍的記載應當叫做"小溈山寺"才對。唐朝時期,道士司馬承楨檢索全國名勝地理,挑選神奇清幽,山靈水秀,兼採陰陽,上達天庭,適宜神仙居住的地方命名為洞天福地,編成《天宮地府圖》一書。書中列出36洞天,72福地,這裡即便被稱為第十三洞天:小溈山好生玄上洞天,相傳是道家仙人花邱林和傅天師修煉得道之所在。根據同時代杜光庭在《洞天福地岳瀆名山記》中的記載,付天師修煉之時居石室、設仙壇,這裡應當是一處天然的岩石洞府。直到後來的大緣禪師雲遊至此,才在此建寺,這是溈山建廟的最早的文字記載。至於寺廟的名稱也有一條記載:宋殿元易祓書匾:小溈山寺。

寺廟的周圍,至少在唐宋年間,還是符合道家"洞天福地"標準的,因而周圍的景致被命名為溈山八景。"洞天春曉"是概括性的說法,峽谷幽深,宛如仙境,春天姍姍遲來,卻帶著一種與生俱來的隆重與驕傲的態勢;"荷池秋霽"指的是寺廟前一口三五畝的荷塘,霜降之後,因為這山間溫潤的小氣候,荷葉並不曾完全枯萎凋落,蒼老中生出一層白色的粉末,在十月的陽光下反倒流露出一種久經風霜的沈著和冷靜;"折經流水"寺廟門前,溈山水的兩條支流在此交匯,遠遠望去,像是折疊起來的一本經書,正慢慢打開等著有道高僧來仔細研讀;"靈龜故石"本來是寺廟對面一塊頑石,因為長期和道士們一起修煉,終於也得道成了仙,超脫出六道輪回;"鉢盂山形"是寺廟對面一個獨立的小山崗,線條圓潤柔和,遠遠望去,不正是當年道士雲遊歸來遺落的化齋鉢盂嗎;"龍脊高崗"指這溈山的山勢,從瀏陽和醴陵交界的扁擔坳宛然曲折而來,山勢脈絡分明,山體高峻,氣氛非同尋常;"卓錫飛泉"是寺廟西側一眼泉水的由來,剛剛雲遊到此的邱真人見此地沒有泉水,就隨手將錫杖往地上一杵,泉水應聲而出;"袈裟仙跡"也是寺廟後面的這座山嵐,南坡陡峭,北坡卻平緩許多,山腳延伸到小溪河邊,坡地曲折如同袈裟擺動的褶皺。

我們去看的時侯,樊公廟已經在那場運動之中被拆毀了,我們整整晚來了五十年,小溈山寺自然也是一齊不存在了,現在看到的是十年前剛剛修建起來的"古洞天"。寺廟周圍的八景也需要努力尋找,才能看出一點似是而非的模樣。接待我們的年輕的住持,已經分不清自己究竟是道士還是和尚。問問道觀的來歷,一口咬定就是禪宗五派中溈仰宗發源之溈山。追問密印寺的所在卻又不能作答。不過,這裡即便不是密印寺的所在,卻也處在湖南長沙寧鄉的大溈山和位於江西萍鄉的仰山兩大溈仰宗的祖庭之間,或許應當舊屬於這個支派的禪宗也未為可知,或許這也就是道觀得名"小溈山寺"的來由吧。

歷史從來就是一團迷霧,單單從清楚的記載看來,這小溈山寺倒是不如乾脆借助近代醴陵瓷業發祥地這個名份,恢復起樊公廟和陶瓷祖師的祭祀儀式,再用醴陵人擅長的手法塑造出幾做陶瓷的三清老爺塑像,好好的做成一個有陶瓷特色的道觀,或者也就是一件功德無量的事業了。

Return to the annotated handbook list or to the Guqin ToC.