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Clear Peaceful Music
Subtitle: 七夕 Qi Xi (7th night [of the 7th lunar month]
Standard tuning2 played as 1 2 4 5 6 1 2
清平樂 1
Qingping Yue
Hewen Zhuyin Qinpu tablature (1676) 3      

Qingping Yue is the name of a cipai (poetic structure) with 46 characters (as here: 4,5;7,6. 6,6;6,6). For the version in Japanese handbooks the lyrics under the title Qingping Yue are subtitled Qi Xi (Seventh Night) and concern the legend of the cowherd and weaving girl meeting on the Magpie Bridge (in the Milky Way) once a year on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month; because of this legend there is a "Double Seventh Festival", it is also called Beseeching Skills Festival because on this day girls would show off their domestic skills.4 Today this festival is sometimes referred to as "Chinese Valentine's Day".5

The Zha Guide lists the title Qingping Yue in five handbooks, all with lyrics that have this same structure (4,5;7,6. 6,6;6,6.), but none with a preface or afterword. In fact, amongst these qin melodies only the lyrics of the Japanese version concern the Magpie Bridge story; the other versions also have different melodies as well as themes.6

Likewise, dictionary references to Qingping Yue mention the cipai structure but make no mention of the magpie bridge story. There are quite a few poems that use this structure. Some concern love, but not the magpie bridge theme.

The present lyrics are given below under Music. A comment before the lyrics attributes them to "Master of the Wind and Moon, Sun Cangqiu".7 Then a statement at the end of the lyrics says: "Toko the Lazy Monk Matched the Sounds"8 (presumably meaning he matched music to the lyrics by Sun Cangqiu).

Although multiple lyrics can be applied to the present melody, there were no comments about this in any of the early qin handbooks. For an example of a qin melody for which such multiple lyrics are actually suggested see Shi Yin (1585).

 
Original preface
None9

 
Music10 (with transcription; timing follows 聽錄音 my recording)
清平樂(七夕)
Qingping Yue (Qi Xi)
Clear Peaceful Music (Seventh Night)
One section; a mostly syllabic setting by "Lazy Monk Toko" of lyrics attributed to "Master of Wind and Moon Sun Cangqiu"

00.00 Prelude made from the closing harmonics
00.09
鵲橋成了,猶限歡娛少。       (Perhaps "限" is a mistake for "恨 hen")
Què qiáo chéng liao, yóu xiàn huān yú shǎo
Magpie Bridge has formed, yet it limits happiness to (once a year).
      爭似秦樓瓜菓早,盡向斯時乞巧。   ("菓 guǒ": 1709; 1676 has "菒 gǎo")
      Zhēng sì qín lóu guā guǒ zǎo, jǐn xiàng sī shí Qǐ qiǎo.
      It seems as if in the ladies' quarters gourd-fruit (offerings are ready) early, finished by the time of festive events.

00.37
凝眸斗渚迢遙,浮槎定擬今宵。                         (斗渚 13804.xxx)
Níng móu dòu zhǔ tiáo yáo, fú chá dìng nǐ jīn xiāo.
Staring into the top end of the Milky Way, we seem to float on a log as we try to meet this evening.
      誰識天涯此際,教人暗裏魂銷。
      Shuí shí tiān yá cǐ jì, jiào rén àn lǐ hún xiāo.
      Who knew the world here could be so vast: (this) arouses our hidden passions!

End: 01.10

(Translation tentative 11)

 
Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. 清平樂 Qingping Yue
18003.58 清平樂 says it is the name of a 詞牌 cipai, mentions the structure as having 46 字 characters, and gives some history, but it gives no actual examples and makes no mention of the cowherd and weaving girl story.

Regarding the history, it mentions poems by Li Bai of this title, but they use a different structure; likewise with its mention of a 張輯 Zhang Ji ci poem.

On the other hand there are quite a few poems that have used the same 46 character structure as with the present melody (4,5;7,6. 6,6;6,6.). Some well-known examples include:

  1. 清平樂 Pure Serene Music, by 李煜 Li Yu (李後主 Li Houzhu, 937–978, Wiki):

    別來春半,觸目柔腸斷。                 Bié lái chūn bàn, chùmù róu chángduàn.
    砌下落梅如雪亂,拂了一身還滿。 Qì xià luò méi rú xuě luàn, fú le yī shēn hái mǎn.

    雁來音信無憑,路遙歸夢難成。     Yàn lái yīn xìn wú píng, lù yáo guī mèng nán chéng.
    離恨恰如春草,更行更遠還生。     Lí hèn qià rú chūn cǎo, gèng xíng gèng yuǎn hái shēng.

    As translated by Burton Watson in The Columbia Book of Chinese Poetry: From Early Times to the Thirteenth Century

    Since we parted, spring half over;
    everywhere I look, grief overwhelms me.
    Below the steps, fallen plum petals like tumbles of snow -
    I brush them off only to be covered with them again.

    Wild geese arrive but bring no letters.
    The road's so long, even in dreams it's hard to go home.
    This pain of separation is liek the spring grass -
    the farther away I journey, the ranker it grows.

  2. 會昌 Huichang, by Mao Zedong (1934)

    東方欲曉,莫道君行早。                 Dōng fāng yù xiǎo, mò dào jūn xíng zǎo.
    踏遍青山人未老,風景這邊獨好。 Tà biàn qīng shān rén wèi lǎo, fēng jǐng zhè biān dú hǎo.  

    會昌城外高峰,顛連直接東溟。     Huì chāng chéng wài gāo fēng, diān lián zhí jiē dōng míng.
    戰士指看南粵,更加鬱鬱蔥蔥。     Zhàn shì zhǐ kàn nán yuè, gèng jiā yù yù cōng cōng.

The Mao poem has been set to modern orchestral music as 六盘山 Liupan Mountain (easily found online).
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2. Mode: 宮音 Gong Yin?
The handbook calls the mode Gong Yin, which should treat the standard tuning as 5 6 1 2 3 5 6 (see 1425). This makes the apparent relative scale 5 6 7 1 2, but allows the melody to end on 1 over 5, hence "gong mode". However, until these final two notes it seems more natural to treat the tuning as 1 2 4 5 6 1 2, which makes the scale 1 2 3 5 6 and allows the eight phrases to end on 5, 1. 5, 1. 6, 2, 6, 4/1. In both cases the final two notes clearly change the tonal center. The reasons for this are not clear, but this something that can also be found in some other old qin melodies as well.
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3. Image: Original tablature
Copied from QQJC XII/168.
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4. Double Seventh Festival
Wikipedia relates the story of the cowherd and weaving girl (牛郎織女 niúláng zhīnǚ) meeting on the Magpie Bridge (鵲橋 quèqiáo) once a year on the Double Seventh. It also gives reasons for the festival also being called "Beseeching Skills Festival" (乞巧節 Qǐqiǎojié).
(Return)

5. Chinese Valentines' Day
The same is sometimes also said of 元宵節 Yuanxiao Jie (Wikipedia: Lantern Festival; see also under Liangxiao Yin).
(Return)

6. Tracing Qingping Yue
Zha Guide 34/--/501 gives five listings and three sets of lyrics, all 4,5;7,6. 6,6;6,6 as here. The five listings are as follows:

  1. 和文注音琴譜 (1676; XII/168)
    Repeated in Toko Kinpu (東皋琴譜 1709; XII/271). The lyrics here (given above), attributed to Sun Cangqiu, concern the story of the cowherd and the weaving girl. A comment at the end of the lyrics says: "東皋懶衲諧音 Toko the Lazy Monk Matched the Sounds" (presumably meaning he matched music to the lyrics by Sun Cangqiu).

  2. 松風閣琴譜 (should be 抒懷操, 1682; XII/365)
    Different music and lyrics but in same pattern; lyrics mention qin. This version is repeated in 1687 (XII/400), 1738 (see below) and 1802 (also below). The lyrics are as follows:

    清平樂(雙壽) Qing Ping Yue (Shuang Shou)
    凉生蕭署,尙有蟬吟樹。                 Liáng shēng xiāo shǔ, shàng yǒu chán yín shù.
    攜到氷絲間綽注,碧水丹山凝竚。 Xié dào bīng sī jiān chuò zhù, bì shuǐ dān shān níng zhù.
    迴文應動歸心,雙棲伴爾彈琴。     Huí wén yīng dòng guī xīn, shuāng qī bàn ěr tán qín.
    宛似鹿門小隱,不須世覓知音。     Wǎn sì lù mén xiǎo yǐn, bù xū shì mì zhī yīn.

    1682 subtitles the lyrics "雙壽", adding "檇李朱   雯復齋填詞" (1687 has 朱雯   復齋); with the music (角音 and also 雙壽) 1682 says, "燕山程   雄頴庵諧譜" (1687 has 程雄   頴庵, but its music is different again [宮音]).

  3. 松聲操 (1687; XII/390)
    A third set of lyrics and music,

    清平樂 Qing Ping Yue
    文音誰識,止解傳鈎剔。                 Wén yīn shuí shì, zhǐ jiě chuán gōu tī.
    試問宮商分呂律,若個真能入室。 Shì wèn gōng shāng fēn lǚ lǜ, ruò gè zhēn néng rù shì.
    隱庵獨契希聲,新詞盡付韶音。     Yǐn ān dú qì xī shēng, xīn cí jǐn fù sháo yīn.
    何日溪邊洗耳,烹茶許我閒聽。     Hé rì xī biān xǐ ěr, pēng chá xǔ wǒ xián tīng.

    With the lyrics 1687 says, "張潮   山來"; with the music (宮音 清平樂), "程雄   隱菴"

  4. 琴譜千古 (1738; XV/404)
    Same lyrics and 角音 music as 1682, but it has no separate comment about the music, saying only, "朱復齋先生填詞".

  5. 自遠堂琴譜 (1802; XVII/546)
    Same as 1738.

Although Qingping Yue is said to be a cipai, here no two sets of lyrics has been applied to the same melody. Instead, one of the sets of lyrics has been used in three different handbooks, each with a different melody.
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7. 風月主人孫蒼虬 Master of Wind and the Moon Sun Cangqiu
The attribution here says, "風月主人孫蒼虬著詞 Lyrics by the Master of Wind and the Moon Sun Cangqiu", with no further details about who or when this was. "Cangqiu" is most likely a nickname. 32425.61 "cangqiu" says it is a "蒼色虬龍 small horned dragon blue/grey in color", but it can also poetically suggest a gnarled tree trunk or a man with a wispy/curly beard; as a nickname it can be found elsewhere, but I have not yet found anyone surnamed 孫 Sun with this nickname. 44734.30xxx (風月); 7135.xxx (孫); 32425.61xxx (蒼虬). There is no evidence yet that Sun was in Japan.
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8. Toko the Lazy Monk Matched the Sounds
東皋懶衲諧音. "Toko" refers to the Chinese monk Jiang Xingchou. Most likely he created the melody himself, but he may have brought it from China.
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9. Preface
Many melodies in the Japanese handbooks have attributions of music and/or lyrics, but few have further commentary. Here the only comments are the attributions to Sun for the lyrics and Toko for matching the melody.
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10. Music
See 和文注音琴譜 (1676; XII/168)
It is repeated in 東皋琴譜 1709 (XII/271). The two versions are virtually identical, but 1709 has one character different, changing "菒 gǎo" to "菓 guǒ in the third phrase. It also omits the following marginal comment that 1676 has with the note next to the character "了 liao" (inside the second 早 in the first column of tablature above):

_乃散四,者太蔟也。七徽一,絃者林鐘也。 (Then apparently a phrase in Japanese kana.)

My interpretation of this note is that the apparent "上" should be "卜 over 一" , i.e., an upward slide ("綽 chuo") slide by the middle finger on the first string (plucking the open fourth string at the same time); the 七 above the 早 is then a mistake: it should be 五 (5th hui), the 早 then forming the note of the fourth string ("taicou") together with an octave above that. "太蔟 taicou" and 林鐘 linzhong are originally note names but can also be used as stud names or perhaps even string names, etc. (e.g. see here).
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11. Translation of 清平樂 Qingping Yue (七夕 Qi Xi)
Some terms are still not clear to me (e.g. 斗渚 douzhu; 13804.65 斗宿 dousu is the Big Dipper; 渚 zhu means islet or sandbar).

Lau Shing Hon has sent me his more fluent translation, as follows:

Magpies have the Bridge built, yet pleasure only once a year yield.
      Trying to be the first in the ladies' quarters to offer fruits afresh, praying for wit and skill.
Gazing at the Dòuzhǔ galaxy afar; floating on a raft, planning for the night.
      Who knows under the heavens now, with ecstasy our souls secretly aroused.

This captures the mood well, but the more literal effort is maintained above to help a singer understand each word while singing.
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