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Ruan Ji
- Qin Shi #82; also: Ruan Xian and Ruan Zhan
阮籍 1 
琴史 #82 2 
Ruan Ji whistling; see Ruan Xian below 3 
Ruan Ji (210 - 263), from Chenliu district south of Kaifeng, was an important literary figure known as a Daoist, poet, drunkard and musician. He was one of the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove and is in particular associated with the qin melody Jiu Kuang. His father Ruan Yu had studied qin from Cai Yong and served as an official under Cao Cao, but Ruan Ji himself did everything he could to avoid public office.

Qinshu Daquan, Folio 16, #56, is a passage from his Essay on Music (Yue Lun).4 It begins,

Once Ji Liuzi was playing qin into the wind....

A number of poems by Ruan Ji mention qin.5 In the Ming dynasty his poems were published in a collection called Ruan Bubing Ji, Bubing being one of Ruan Ji's nicknames.6 There was also a Ming dynasty opera called Ruan Bubing.7

The biography of Ruan Ji in Giles (see Yuan Chi; Romanization is modified here) is as follows:

"His youth was a strange mixture of wildness and hard study. Sometimes he would wander away on the hills and forget to return, and at length come back crying bitterly; at other times he would shut himself up with his books and see no one for months. The age was unsuited for steadiness and perseverance, and accordingly he gave himself up to drinking and revelry. He rose to high military office uner the Emperor Wei Wen Di, and then exchanged his post for one where he had heard there was a better cook! He was a model of filial piety, and when his mother died he wept so violently that he brouht up several pints of blood. Yet when Ji Xi (嵇喜) went to condole him, he showed only the whites of his eyes (i.e., paid no attention to him); while Ji Xi's brother (n.b.: Xi Kang), who carried along with him a jar of wine and a "guitar" (qin!), was welcomed with the pupils. A neighbouring tavern-keeper had a pretty wife, and Ruan Ji would go there and drink until he fell down insensible on the floor. He was a skilled poet, though much of his work was too hastily done. He is specially known for his Yong Huai Shi (詠懷詩), (a set of 82 poems) dealing with the calamities of his day. He also wrote the Xiansheng Daren Lun (先生大人論),8 a work composed after an interview with the hermit Sun Deng (孫登). He was a fine musician, and made the best zheng (箏),9 his instruments being the 'Strads' of China. He was one of the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove."

The biography in Qin Shi begins as follows (compare the account in Jin Shu10):

Ruan Ji, style name Sizong, from the Wei family of Chenliu. He lived in the period of disorder between the Wei and Jin eras....(It goes on to say he 卒於步兵校尉 died as an officer of foot soldiers.)

The entry on Ruan Ji also discusses his nephew Ruan Xian, and Ruan Xian's son, Ruan Zhan.

 
Ruan Xian11 (3rd c. CE) Ruan Xian playing his 阮 Ruan12      

Ruan Xian was a nephew of Ruan Ji. Xu Jian discusses him in QSCB, Chapter 3.A. (p.25). Both Qin Ji and a poem by Li Ye say he wrote Sanxia Liu Quan (see, e.g., in YFSJ).

Giles (Yüan Hsien) writes,

In his youth he was a wild harum-scarum fellow, nobody knowing what would be his next escapade. He and his uncle (Ruan Ji), both poverty-stricken, lived on one side of the road, while a wealthier branch of the family lived on the other side. On the 7th of the 7th moon the latter put out all their grand fur robes and fine clothes to air, as is customary on that day; whereupon Ruan Xian on his side forked up a pair of the short breeches, called calf-nose drawers, worn by the common coolies, explaining to a friend that he was a victim to the tyranny of custom. He was a fine performer on the (ruan), and understood the theory of music. He found fault with 荀勗 Xun Xu's arrangement of the octave, declaring that the intervals were incorrect; for which Xun Xu avenged himself by getting Ruan Xian sent away as Governor of 始平 Shiping in Shaanxi. The discovery shortly afterwards of the measurements of the Zhou dynasty showed that Ruan Xian was right, the length of each of Xun Xu's pitch-pipes being out by a millet-grain. The modern 阮 ruan, once known as the 秦琵琶 Qin pipa, is said to have been invented by and named after Ruan Xian.

 
Ruan Zhan13 (ca. 281 - ca. 310)

Son of Ruan Xian. Van Gulik, Lore, p.158, relates a story from Gu Qin Shu in which his willingness to play qin for anyone is contrasted favorably with the attitude of Dai Kui. He is also discussed in QSCB, Chapter 3.A. (p.25)

Giles (Yüan Chan) has the following:

He was exceedingly pure and simple-minded, and found his chief pleasure in playing the (qin). About the year 310 he was secretary in the establishment of the Heir Apparent. He held the belief that there are no such things as bogies, and was one day arguing the point rather warmly with a stranger, when the latter jumped up in a rage and cried out "I am a bogy myself!" The stranger then assumed a hideous shape, and finally vanished. Ruan Zhan was greatly upset by this, and died within the year.

 
Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Ruan Ji 阮籍 (210-263; Wiki)
The Qin Shi table of contents names this entry Three Ruans (三阮 10.xxx), and the article also includes his nephew, 阮咸 Ruan Xian and Ruan Xian's son, 阮瞻 Ruan Zhan. See Xu Jian QSCB, Chapter 3.A. (p. 26).

As for Ruan Ji, 42492.94, as here, says his style name was 嗣宗 Sizong, and he was 陳留尉氏 Weishi (still on modern maps) in Chenliu district, south of Kaifeng. 尉氏 Wei Shi also suggests a military family. He also had the nickname 步兵 Bubing, (16621.36 footsoldiering officer). 阮步兵 42492.16 says Ruan Ji was a 步兵校尉 foot soldiering field officer and so he was called Ruan Bubing. It does not mention the collection of poetry or the opera having this name.

Further reference:

  1. Nienhauser, ICTCL, Vol. 1, pp. 463-5 (biographical information).
  2. Minford and Lau, Classical Chinese Literature, pp. 448-56 (biographical notes and a number of poems).
  3. Donald Holzman, Poetry and Politics, The Life and Work of Juan Chi (A.D. 210 - 263). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973.
  4. Graham Hartill and Wu Fusheng (transl.), Songs of my Heart, the Chinese lyric poetry of Ruan Ji. London, Wellsweep Chinese Poets, 1988.

Hartill and Wu translate qin as "harp".
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2. 12 lines (Return)

3. Image 1
Detail of a brick relief from a Nanjing tomb.
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4. Ruan Ji's Yue Lun 樂論 (original text)
Qinshu Daquan has two parts of a passage from near the end, apparently in reverse order:
昔季流子向風而鼓琴,聽之者泣下沾襟。弟子曰「善哉鼓琴,亦已妙矣。」季流子曰「樂謂之善,哀為之傷。吾為哀傷,非為善樂也。」(Then goes back to)漢順帝上恭陵,過樊衢,聞鳥鳴而悲,泣下橫流,曰:「善哉鳥聲!使絲聲若是,豈不樂哉?」夫是謂以悲為樂者也。誠以悲為樂,則天下何樂之有?天下無樂,而有陰陽調和。災害不生,亦已難矣。(This latter part seems somewhat changed from elsewhere.)

DeWoskin, Song, p.116, translates a passage from this book. It begins,

A traveler appeared in Zhao carrying a qin from which qi issued forth. When its sounds entered the ears of listeners, their feet and hands would fly and flap about, and they would lose all normal sense....

Ronald Egan, Controversy, p. 8, also translates a passage:

(When Emperor Shun, r. 126-144, passed by Fanqu, outside of Luoyang,) "he heard birds singing there and was 悲 bei ('moved' or 'melancholy'). with tears streaming down his face, he said, 'How fine are the birds' songs.' He had his attendants intone the sounds in imitation and observed, 'Wouldn't it be pleasurable if stringed instruments could play like that?'"

Egan further comments that the songs of birds cannot actually be "sad" (for further on this meaning of bei see under Mozi Bei Ge).
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5. The qin in poetry by Ruan Ji
Holzman translates most of the relevant poems; in particular, the qin is mentioned in:

  1. Line 197 of 東平相 Dongping Xiang (Tung Ping, p.44)
  2. Line 72 of 達莊論 Da Zhuang Lun (Understanding Zhuangzi, p.104)
  3. Line 69 of 清思賦 Qing Si Fu (Purifying the Thoughts, p.137ff)
  4. Three poems from (阮步兵)詠懷詩 (Ruan Bubing) Yonghuai Shi (also translated in Hartill and Wu, Songs of My Heart)

What is usually considered the first poem from Songs of my Heart was also translated in Jerome Ch'en and Michael Bullock, trans., Poems of Solitude. London, Abelard-Schuman, 1960.

Poems from my Heart, #1

夜中不能寐,起坐弹鸣琴。
薄帷鑒明月,清風吹我襟。
孤鴻號外野,翔鳥鳴北林。
徘徊將何見,憂思獨傷心。

Being sleepless at midnight,
    I rise to play qin.
The moon is visible through the curtains
    And a gentle breeze sways the cords of my robe.
A lonely wild goose cries in the wilderness
    And is echoed by birds in the woods.
As it circles, it gazes
    At me, alone, imbued with sadness.

As Holzman points out, the beginning of this poem echoes the beginning of a poem by 王粲 Wang Can (177 – 217; Wiki), one of the 建安七子 "Seven Masters of the Jian'an period".
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6. Ruan Bubing 阮步兵, the poetry collection
Collections with the title Ruan Bubing date at least from the end of the Tang dynasty. A Ming dynasty edition is called 阮步兵集 Ruan Bubing Ji. A 20th century edition called 阮步兵詠懷詩注 Ruan Bubing Yonghuaishi Zhu (Ruan Bubing: Annotated Poems from the Heart) has commentary for all the poems. These collections consist of 82 of Ruan Ji's poems; I do not know why they do not include the first three poems mentioned above.
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7. Ruan Bubing 阮步兵, a 17th century opera
Full title 阮步兵鄰廨啼紅 Ruan Bubing Lin Jie Ti Hong or 阮步兵陵廨啼紅 Ruan Bubing Ling Jie Ti Hong, but also called 英雄泪 Yingxiong Lei, this opera was created by 來集之 Lai Jizhi (1604-1682; 553.177; Bio/1024), also known as 來鎔 Lai Rong and 元成子 Yuanchengzi; it is one of six attributed to him. It "has been preserved in a mid-seventeenth century block print edition. Modern reprints should be available in a good university library." (Wilt Idema, personal communication, 2010.) According to a synopsis (which says no 傳本 transmitted text survives), in this story Ruan Ji hears that a very beautiful local girl had died the previous day. He asks that she be buried on 胭脂山 (臙脂山) Yanzhi Mountain so that it will face his own grave, which will be on nearby 鏡台峰 Jingtai Feng. Having finished speaking he 言畢長嘯 let out a long wail and then left.

Since even the version of Jiu Kuang with lyrics pre-dates the opera, in the unlikely event that there is found to be some connection between the qin song lyrics and those of the opera, then it would have to be the opera that did the borrowing.
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8. 先生大人論 Xiansheng Daren Lun
Generally called 大人先生傳 Daren Xiansheng Zhuan, Biography of Master Great Man, his longest prose work and "also his most influential". (ICTCL) No mention of qin.
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9. Ruan Ji and the zheng
The source of this information is unclear: should it be qin?
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10. Ruan Ji in 晉書 Jin Shu
Holzman, p.137, translates a relevant passage from the entry on Ruan Ji from the History of Jin as follows:

Ruan Ji was an excellent performer on the zither. When he was satisfied (with what he played) he would suddenly forget his physical being. Many of his contemporaries called him stupid, but his elder cousin Ruan Wenye (Ruan Wu, actually an uncle) constantly admired him, thinking Ruan Ji surpassed him. Thereafter all thought Ruan Ji exceptional.
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11. Ruan Xian 阮咸 (210 - 263)
42492.36/2 discusses the person. /1 concerns the instrument (see next).
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12. Ruan
The ruan is generally considered to be an ancient instrument that later developed into various smaller versions such as the 月琴 yueqin (moon lute). ZWDCD has two relevant entries:

  1. 42492/4 阮 ruan: "月琴也,阮咸之省稱 same as yue qin (moon lute), short for ruanxian".
  2. 42492.36 阮咸 ruanxian: "月琴之類,阮咸所作,因以為名 a type of yueqin (moon lute), (originally) made by Ruan Xian, hence the name"; this entry has a picture and a lengthy description.
  3. 42492.xxx 阮琴 , though an internet search shows many references.

See also Qiu Ying paintings of ruan and qin.
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13. Ruan Zhan 阮瞻
42492.94 has an image.
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Return to QSCB, or to the Guqin ToC.
 

Appendix: 樂論 Yue Lun original text

劉子問曰:「孔子云:『安上治民,莫善於禮。移風易俗,莫善於樂。』夫禮者,男女之所目別,父子之所目成,君臣之所目立,百姓之所目平也。為政之具,靡先於此。故安上治民,莫善於禮也。夫金石絲竹鍾鼓管弦之音,干戚羽旄進退俯仰之容,有之何益於政?無之,政何損于化?而曰移風易俗,莫善于樂乎?」

阮先生曰:「善哉子之問也!昔者孔子著其都乎?且未舉其略也。今將為子論其凡,而子自備詳焉。夫樂者,天地之體萬物之性也。故定天地八方之音,以迎陰陽八風之聲。均黃鐘中和之律,開群生萬物之情氣。故律呂協則陰陽和,音聲適而萬物類。男女不易其所,君臣不犯其位。四海同其觀,九州一其節。奏之圜丘,而天神下降。奏之方岳,而地祉上應。天地合其德,則萬物合其生。刑賞不用,而民自安矣。乾坤易簡,故雅樂不煩。道德平淡,故無聲無味。不煩則陰陽自通,無味則百物自樂。日遷善成化而不自知,風俗移易而同于是樂。此自然之道,樂之所始也。其後聖人不作,道德荒壞,政法不立,智慧擾物。化廢欲行,各有風俗。故造子之教謂之風,習而行之謂之俗。楚越之風好勇,故其俗輕死。鄭衛之風好淫,故其俗輕蕩。輕死故有火焰赴水之歌,輕蕩故有桑閒濮上之曲。各歌其所好,各詠其所為。欲之者流涕,聞之者嘆息。背而去之,無不慷慨。懷永日之娛,抱長夜之嘆。相聚而合之,群而習之,靡靡無己。棄父子之親,弛君臣之制,匱室家之禮,廢耕農之業,忘終身之樂,崇淫縱之俗。故江淮之南,其民好殘。漳汝之間,其民好奔。吳有雙劍之節。趙有扶琴之客,氣發于中,聲入于耳。手足飛揚,不覺其駭。好勇則犯上,淫放則棄親。犯上則君臣逆,棄親則父子乖。乖逆交爭,則患生禍起。禍起而意愈異,患生而慮不同。故八方殊風,九州異俗。乖離分背,莫能相通。音異氣別,曲節不齊。故聖人立調適之音,劍平和之聲;制便事之節,定順從之容。使天下之為樂者,莫不儀焉。白上目下,降殺有等。至于庶人,咸皆聞之。歌謠者詠先王之德,頫仰者習先王之容也,將目屈形體,服心意,便所修,安所事也。歌詠詩曲,將目宣平和,著不逮也。鐘鼓所目節耳,羽旄所目制目。聽之者不傾,視之者不衰。耳目不傾不衰,則風俗移易。故移風易俗,莫善于樂也。故八音有本體,五聲有自然。其同物者,目大小相君,有自然,故不可亂。大小相君,故可得而平也。若夫若夫空桑之琴,雲和之瑟,孤竹之管,泗濱之磬,其物皆調和淳均者,聲相宜也。故必有常處,目大小相君,應黃鐘之氣,故必有常數。有常處,故其器貴重。有常數,顧其制不妄。貴重故可得目事神;不妄故可得目化人。其物係天地之象,故不可妄造。其凡似遠物之音,故不可妄易。雅頌有分,故人神不雜。節會有數,故曲折不亂。周旋有度,顧頫仰不惑。歌詠有主,故言語不悖。導之目善,緩之目和。手之目衷,持之目九。散其群,比其文,扶其天,助其壽,使去風能之偏習,歸聖王之大化。先王之為樂也,將目定萬物之情,一天下之意也。故使其聲平,其容和,下不思上之聲,君不欲臣之色。上下不爭,而忠義成。

夫正樂者,所目屏淫聲也。故樂廢則淫聲作。漢哀帝不好音,罷省樂府。而不知制正禮,樂法不修,淫聲遂起。張放淳於長驕縱過渡,丙疆景武當益于世。罷樂之後,下移踰肆,身不是好,而淫亂愈甚者,禮不設也。刑教一體,禮樂外也。刑弛則教不獨行,禮廢則樂無所立。尊卑有分,上下有等,謂之禮。人安其生,情意無哀,謂之樂。車服旌旗,宮室飲食,禮之具也。鐘罄鼓,琴瑟歌舞,樂之器也。禮踰其制,則尊卑乖。樂失其序,則親疏亂。禮定其象,樂失其心。禮治其外,樂化其內,禮樂正而天下平。昔衛人求繁纓曲縣,而孔子嘆息;蓋惜禮壞而樂崩也。夫鐘者,聲之主也。縣者,鐘之至也。鍾失其制,則聲失其主。主制無常,則怪聲並出。盛衰之代相及。古今之變若一。故聖教廢毀,則聰慧之人,並造奇音。景王喜大中之律,平公好師延之曲。公卿大夫,拊手嗟嘆;庶人群生,踴躍思聞。正樂遂廢,鄭聲大興。雅頌之詩不講,而妖淫之曲是尋。延年造傾城之歌,而孝武思靡嫚之色。雍門作松柏之音,愍王念未寒之服。故猗靡哀思之音發,愁怨偷薄之辭興,則人後有縱欲奢侈之意,人後有內顧自奉之心。是目君子惡大凌之歌,憎北里之舞也。昔先王制樂,非目縱耳目之觀,崇曲之嬿也;必通天地之氣,靜萬物之神也。故上下之位,定性命之真也。故清廟之歌,詠成功之績。賓饗之詩,稱禮讓之則。百姓化其善,異俗服其德。此淫聲之所目薄,正樂之所目貴也。然禮與變俱,樂與時化。顧五帝不同制,三王各異造。非其相反,應時變也。夫百姓安服淫亂之聲,殘壞先王之正。故後王必更作樂,各宣其功德于天下。通其變,使民不倦。然但改其名目,變造歌詠,至于樂聲,平和自若。故後王必更作樂,各宣其功德於天下。通其變,使民不倦。然但改其名目,變造歌詠,至于樂聲,平和自若。故黃地詠雲門之神,少昊歌鳳鳥之跡。咸池六英之名既變,而黃鍾之功不改易。故逵道之化者,可與審樂。好音之聲者,不足與論律也。舜命夔與典樂,叫冑子目中和之德也。詩言志,歌詠言,聲依詠,律和聲。八音克諧,無相奪倫,神人目和。又曰:『子欲文六律五聲八音在治曶,目出納五言。女聽,夫煩手淫聲,汩湮心耳。乃忘平和,君子弗聽。』言正樂通平易簡,心澄氣清,目聞音律,出納五言也。夔曰:「戛擊鳴球,摶拊琴瑟目詠,祖考來格,虞賓在位,群后德讓。下管發鼓,合止祝敔,聲鏞目閒,鳥獸蹌蹌。蕭韶九成,鳳凰來儀。」夔曰:「 於子擊石拊石,百獸率舞。」言天下治平,萬物得所。音聲不譁。漠然未兆,故眾官皆和也。目此觀之,知聖人之樂,和而已矣。

自西陵青陽之樂,皆取之竹,聽鳳凰之鳴,尊長風之象。采大林之□。當時之所不見,百姓之所希聞,故天下懷其德而化其神也。夫雅樂周通,則萬物和。質靜則聽不淫,易簡則節制令神;靜重則服人心:此王之所造樂之意也。自後衰末之為樂也,其物不真,其器不固。其制不信,取于近物,同于人間,各求其好,恣意所存。閭里之聲競高,永巷之音爭先。童兒相聚,目詠富貴。芻牧負載,以歌賤貧。君臣之職未廢,而一人懷萬心也。當夏后之末,輿女萬人,衣以文繡,食以梁肉,端噪晨歌,聞之者憂戚。天下苦其殃,百姓傷其毒。殷之季君,亦奏斯樂。酒池肉林,夜以繼日。然咨嗟之音未絕,而敵國已收其琴瑟矣。滿堂而飲酒,樂奏而流涕,此非皆有憂者也。則此樂非樂也。當王居臣之時,奏新樂於廟中,聞知者聞知者皆為之悲咽。桓帝聞楚琴,悽愴傷心,倚扆而悲,慷慨長息曰:「善哉呼!為琴若此!一而以足矣。」順帝上恭陵,過樊衢,聞鳥鳴而悲,泣下橫流曰:「善哉鳥鳴!」使左右吟之曰:「使絲聲若是,豈不樂哉!」夫是謂以悲為樂者也。誠以悲為樂,則天下何樂之有?天下無樂,而有陰陽調和。災害不生,亦已難矣。樂者,使人精神平和,衰氣不入,天地交泰,遠物來集,故謂之樂也。今則流涕感動,噓唏傷氣,寒暑不適,庶物不遂。雖出絲竹,宜謂之哀。奈何俛仰嘆息,以此稱樂乎?

昔季流子向風而鼓琴,聽之者泣下沾襟。弟子曰:「善哉鼓琴,亦已妙矣!」季流子曰:「樂謂之善,哀謂之傷,吾為哀傷,非為善樂也。」以此言之,絲竹不必為樂,歌詠不必為善也,故墨子之非樂也。悲夫以哀為樂者,胡疵玄耽哀不變,故願為黔首。李斯隨哀不返,故思逐狡兔。嗚呼君子,可不鑒之哉! -->