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Deer Call
宮音 Gong mode: 5 6 1 2 3 5 6 2
鹿鳴 1
Lu Ming  
"Bronze Deer Inlaid with Gems"3        
This qin song is set to the text of a poem of the same name in the Xiao Ya section of the Shi Jing (Book of Odes or Book of Songs). "Xiao Ya" (literally, "small elegance"), has numerous translations, including "minor elegantiae", "minor festal odes", "lesser court hymns", and so forth. The section has 74 odes in all (Shi Jing Mao #s 161-234). Lu Ming is #161; another is #184, He Ming Jiu Gao). He Ming Jiu Gao is also the title of a qin melody, but most versions of it have no lyrics, and those that do have different ones from those in the Shi Jing.

Lu Ming is sometimes considered to be the "banquet poem par excellence", used by Zhou rulers to entertain their vassals during their offical visits. Most Shi Jing poems have been given political interpretations over the years and banquet poems are a prime example, their lyrics said have been created with a mind towards conveying the hierarchical relationship between host and guests, and between a state and its neighbors.

Commenting on a later banquet poem by Xie Lingyun, Fusheng Wu wrote5 that Xie,

"adopts several allusions to classical texts. "Banqueting enhances the trust among us" (餞宴光有孚) is a reference to the 周易 Zhouyi, where it is said that "if one drinks wine with trust, then there is no fault ("有孚於食酒,無咎"). The next line, "In harmony and delight we restore the past loss ("和樂隆所缺"), alludes to the Mao preface to "Liu Yue" 六月 ("The Sixth Month") in the Shijing: "When 'Luming' is abandoned, harmony and delight will be in want" (鹿鳴廢則和樂缺矣). "Luming" 鹿鳴 ("The Deer Call One Another") is a banquet poem in the Shijing. According to the Mao preface, it describes how the Zhou king entertains his ministers and noble guests as to insure their loyalty. It is a celebration of the harmony between the ruler and his ministers....

The title Lu Ming (or Lu Ming Cao) survives in six qin handbooks beginning with the present one in Lixing Yuanya (1618), but all the later versions seem musically unrelated to it.6 The second and fifth publications have only note names (i.e., no tablature or rhythmic indications); these have sometimes been played slowly with all the notes equal in length, apparently interpreting the lack of rhythmic indication to mean that all note values should be the same in length.7 The last one on the list, called Lu Ming Cao, says it is a copy of the third (1802) but it adds symbols that attempt to indicate rhythm; this is the one commonly played today.8 The fourth publication has music related to the third one, but it has no lyrics.

The original text of Lu Ming is included in ctext, together with the translation by James Legge.

Not yet translated; it says that Lu Ming existed as a melody title but there was no actual melody available for the qin, so this was created.

Melody and lyrics
The setting is largely syllabic. Here the original Shi Jing text with modern pronunciation is shown with a translation currently being adapted from Legge, mainly to update some terms and make the text match more closely the original word order (also see the

  1. 呦呦鹿鳴、食野之萍。
    Yōu yōu lù míng, shí yě zhī píng.
    "You you" the deer call one another,
            as they eat the wild flowering weeds.

    Wǒ yǒu jiā bīn, gǔ sè chuī shēng.
    I have here honored guests:
            strike the se zither, blow the sheng mouth organ

    Chuī shēng gǔ huáng, chéng kuāng shì jiāng.
    Blow the sheng, strike the huang.
      Offer up baskets filled for them.

    Rén zhī hǎo wǒ, shì wǒ zhōu xíng.
    People who love me,
            Show me the correct (Zhou) path.

  2. 呦呦鹿鳴、食野之蒿。
    Yōu yōu lù míng, shí yě zhī hāo.
    "You you" the deer call one another,
            Eating the wild artemisia.

    Wǒ yǒu jiā bīn, dé yīn kǒng zhāo.
    I have here honored guests;
            Whose virtuous fame is grandly brilliant.

    Shì mín bù tiāo, jūnzǐ shì zé shì xiào.
    They show the people not to be mean ;
            The gentlemen follow the rules and the models.
    Wǒ yǒu zhǐ jiǔ, jiā bīn shì yàn yǐ áo.
    I have good wine,
            So the honored guests can carouse as as they wish.

  3. 呦呦鹿鳴、食野之芩。
    Yōu yōu lù míng, shí yě zhī qín.
    "You you" the deer call one another,
            Eating the salsola of the fields.

    Wǒ yǒu jiā bīn, gǔ sè gǔ qín.
    I have here honored guests ;
            Strike the se, strike the qin.

    Gǔ sè gǔ qín, hé lè qiě zhàn.
    Striking the se and striking the qin,
            And our harmonious joy continues long.

    Wǒ yǒu zhǐ jiǔ, yǐ jiā lè jiā bīn zhī xīn.
    I have good wine,
            To feast and make glad the hearts of my honored guests.


Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a
separate page)

1. Deer Call (鹿鳴 Lu Ming; QQJC VIII/238)
My interpretation was formulated and transcribed 2 June 2019 on CX831 from New York to Hong Kong. Over the next few days note values were being revised while playing the melody as transcribed.

2. Gong Mode (宮音 Gong Yin (5 6 1 2 3 5 6)
For more on gong mode see Shenpin Gong Yi of 1425; for mode in general see Modality in early Ming qin tablature.

3. Image
The image above, called "Bronze Deer Inlaid with Gems", was unearthed from a tomb dating from the Western Han or earlier. It was copied from the CUHK website. It was included in an exhibition at the Art Museum of Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). The attached commentary said,

The poem Lu Ming, from The Book of Songs, portrays a picture of harmony between humanity and nature. A herd of deer foraging in the meadow ‘call their companions upon the discovery of delectable food’. The call is comparable to the hospitality of a host who entertains his guests with fine wine and music.

The commentary adds that "the logo of the Fine Arts Department of CUHK is inspired by the antlers of a Western Zhou jade deer."

5. Fusheng Wu. Written at Imperial Command: Panegyric Poetry in Early Medieval China. Albany, State University of New York Press, 2008, pp.80-81.

6. Trace 鹿鳴 Lu Ming: Deer Call
Mao poem #161. It is included in Qin Cao as well as under Most ancient in the early list by Seng.

This list of six surviving versions is based on Zha's Guide 30/237/444:

  1. 1618 (VIII/202); unrelated to later ones
    Commentary says there was no existing qin setting so this one was created
  2. 1745 (XVI/365; more below); only note names
  3. 1802 (XVII/519; gong yin; 3 sections; Lu Ming Cao; copied later in 1910 (more below)
  4. ~1802 (XIX/83); related but many differences; no lyrics
  5. 1835 (XXII/171); as with 1745, only note names
  6. 1910 (XXX/205); "= 1802"; has squares to indicate rhythm (compare XXX/391)
    Lyrics ("呦呦鹿鳴食野之萍....") are Shi Jing #161 (online text and translation)

An online search for "鹿鳴" "古琴" reveals many video recordings, almost all based on the tablature in the last handbook ("= 1802"); some include singing. Examples include those by Yang Baoyuan and Zhang Peiyou.

7. Version of 1745/1835 (XVI/365 and XXII/171)
Melodies in 大樂元音 Dayue Yuanyin (1745) and 律音彙攷 Lüyin Huikao seem quite different, and I am not sure of their relationship to each other. They have only note names and seem to be using differing systems. As for the Lüyin Huikao version, it seems to be the one transcribed in Bian, Sonq Dynasty Musical Sources, p.155 further comment).

8. Versioon of 1802/1910
The 1910 handbook (XXX/205) featured a unique method of using squares to indicate rhythm. Comment says the tablature came from the 1802 version, using a 舞胎仙館藏本 copy in the Wuyi Xian Guan Collection (of 楊詩百 Yang Shibai). It does not seem to say whether the rhythms came from someone playing it in the active tradition or through it having been reconstructed. In addition, it is difficult to know how faithfully current interpretations are able to interpret these rhythmic indications.

9. Preface
The original preface is as follows:

此詩小雅,周王乞言於嘉賔,被之絃為燕享通用之樂歌也。 今之《鹿鳴》佳宴,鄕飮酒醴,皆作為聲歌,而絲桐少傳。 夫以大典禮而雅樂不傳,非一大缺典乎。 余特編之譜,祈雅音之不廢。
Through this poem in the Xiao Ya the Zhou king entreated his honored guests. It was adapted for strings to make a song that could be used for enjoyment while feasting. The "Lu Ming" of today at a grand banquet

Translation incomplete. It is not clear to me what the writer is saying about the condition of the music before he made it into a qin song.

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