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Shi Kuang
- Qin Shi #31
 
師曠 1
琴史 #31 2
A statue of Shi Kuang playing qin3      
The famous music master Shi Kuang is usually said to have been from the state of Jin (now southern Shanxi province),
4 where he was associated in particular with Duke Ping of Jin (r. 557 - 532).5 There are numerous stories about Shi Kuang; indeed, it is commonly said he created the melody White Snow, a shang mode melody apparently at one time associated with the qingshang melody in the account given here.6 However, not all such stories are associated with the state of Jin and not all concern the qin.7 For example the image at right, though it shows Shi Kuang playing a qin, is from the Old Wind Music Terrace in Kaifeng, where the associated story tells of Shi Kuang organizing wind music performances. Other stories say he wrote a Classic of Birds (Qin Jing).

As for the story told here in Qin Shi, the second to sixth paragraphs tell a story similar to one told in Han Feizi as well as in Shi Ji, Book 24, though in the latter it illustrates a story related to the melody Nan Feng Ge.8 Meanwhile, another story from Han Feizi, also quoted in Qinshu Daquan (Folio 16, #24), has Shi Kuang of Jin playing the qin and laughing at 叔向 Shu Xiang.9

Qin illustration 9 in Taiyin Daquanji claims to be a depiction of Shi Kuang's Moon Qin.10

The Qin Shi entry is as follows.11

(Compare versions in Han Shu and Li Ji.12) Shi Kuang (Master Kuang), style name 子野 Ziye, was a man of 晉 Jin. Blind from birth, he was very capable and outspoken, without hiding anything. It was also said when he had been the 太宰 chief minister of Jin it had been well ruled. He didn't restrict artisans and teachers. As for music, there was nothing he didn't know. He could predict good and bad luck, victory and defeat. The people of Jin once heard that Chu soldiers were coming. Shi Kuang said, They will not attack us. Suddenly he sang a 北風 northern air, then a 南風 southern air. 南風不競多死聲楚必無功已而果然 (? Chu did not attack.) As for playing the qin it affected the spirit. For 10,000 generations people talking about music have had to begin with Shi Kuang.

(Compare Shi Ji, Annal 24, which is somewhat different here.13) Moreover, during the period 534 - 493, 衛靈公 Duke Ling of Wei was on his way to Jin when he stopped along the Pu River. In the middle of the night hearing the sound of someone playing a qin he asked those around him about it, but they hadn't heard anything. He then called Master Juan (Shi Juan14) and asked him the reason for this. He further said that it seems like the music of ghosts. Listen to it for me and write it down. Shi Juan said, Will do. The next day he said, I've got it but I am not yet fluent with it. Please stay one more night and I will become fluent. So they stayed another night. The next day he reported, I am fluent with it.

They then went on to Jin and saw 平公 Duke Ping. Duke Ping laid out wine for them on Shihui Terrace. The wine was intoxicating. Duke Ling then said, As I was coming here I heard some new sounds. Please let it be played. (Duke Ping assented. Duke Ling) then ordered Shi Juan to play the qin. Before he had finished (Duke Ping's music advisor) Shi Kuang brushed against the strings and stopped the sounds. He said, This is the sound of a doomed state; you must not listen to it. Duke Ping said, Why do you say that? Shi Kuang said, It was created by Shi Yan15 and is the reckless music of Zhou Xin (the dissolute last Shang ruler). When Wu Wang attacked Zhou Xin, Shi Yan went off to the east. He threw himself in the Pu River and drowned. So if you heard this sound you must have been by the Pu River. Duke Ping said, I still would like to hear it. Shi Juan then played it to the end. Duke Ping said, What kind of sound was that? Shi Kuang said, it was a pure shang (qingshang) melody.16 (Duke Ping asked, Is that the most moving of all melodies?17 Shi Kuang said, Not as much as a pure zhi [qingzhi] melody.)

Duke Ping then had (Shi Juan or Shi Kuang) play in pure zhi (qingzhi).18 As soon as he began to play 28 black cranes19 gathered in the courtyard. When he continued to play they stretched their necks and called out, then stretched their wings and danced. Duke Ping was overjoyed. He asked, saying, Is there not something even more moving than this?

Shi Kuang said, It is not (as moving) as a pure jiao (qingjiao) melody.20 Formerly the Yellow Emperor arranged a gathering of ghosts and spirits. Today your lordship's virtue and righteousness and not sufficient to listen to it. If you listen you will be destroyed. Duke Ping said, Nevertheless, I am willing to hear it. Shi Kuang then had no choice. He took his qin and played it. When he played it once white clouds from the northwest rose up. When he played it again the wind arose, with rain after it. Tiles flew from the roof and everyone ran off. Duke Ping was terrified. The kingdom of Jin then had a great drought and the earth was red for three years.

(This segment of the Shi Ji passage ends, "Whether the listeners are lucky or unlucky, with regards to music they should not foolishly follow their passions." It is followed by the final passage of Annal 24, in which Sima Qian comments on music. This final passage is included in QSDQ, Folio 1, #5.)

Even though qin is one type of music instrument....(translation incomplete)

 
Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Sources for Shi Kuang (Master Kuang, or Music Master Kuang)
For Chinese sources 9129.xxx, but .198 師曠之枝策 quotes a Zhuangzi story that mentions the qin (昭文之鼔琴也,師曠之枝策也,惠子之據梧也), while .199 師曠之聰 quotes Mengzi on Shi Kuang's acute hearing. Xu Jian discusses him in his Outline History, Chapter 1. A. (pp. 3-4).

Shi Kuang was perhaps the most famous of China's ancient Music Masters, but there is little information about him in English. Wiki includes him under the Music Bureau, where he is said to have been music master in 6th century Jin (Shanxi); commentary with the image above has him as music master in Liang (Henan). China Knowledge concentrates on the Classic of Birds (禽經 Qin Jing) attributed to him (though clearly a much later work). In general, internet biographies agree that his style name was 子野 Ziye but they differ on other details, such as his home town, most saying he was from 山西洪洞 Hongdong in Shanxi, but some saying he was from 冀州南和 Nanhe in Jizhou (southern part of modern Hebei province). One of them (hudong.com) has a variety of images of or related to him, including statues such as the above.

韓非子 Han Feizi (Wiki; original text online, e.g., in China Text Project) has several stories about Shi Kuang (including one in Chapter 10 regarding the melody White Snow).

The section concerning the story given here of Shi Xiang and Duke Ping of Jin comes from the section called 十過 Ten Faults. The original text is as follows,

奚謂好音?昔者衛靈公將之晉,至濮水之上,稅車而放馬,設舍以宿,夜分,而聞鼓新聲者而說之,使人問左右,盡報弗聞。乃召師涓而告之,曰:「有鼓新聲者,使人問左右,盡報弗聞,其狀似鬼神,子為我聽而寫之。」師涓曰:「諾。」因靜坐撫琴而寫之。師涓明日報曰:「臣得之矣,而未習也,請復一宿習之。」靈公曰:「諾。」因復留宿,明日,而習之,遂去之晉。晉平公觴之於施夷之臺,酒酣,靈公起,公曰:「有新聲,願請以示。」平公曰:「善。」乃召師涓,令坐師曠之旁,援琴鼓之。未終,師曠撫止之,曰:「此亡國之聲,不可遂也。」平公曰:「此道奚出?」師曠曰:「此師延之所作,與紂為靡靡之樂也,及武王伐紂,師延東走,至於濮水而自投,故聞此聲者必於濮水之上。先聞此聲者其國必削,不可遂。」平公曰:「寡人所好者音也,子其使遂之。」師涓鼓究之。平公問師曠曰:「此所謂何聲也?」師曠曰:「此所謂清商也。」公曰:「清商固最悲乎?」師曠曰:「不如清徵。」公曰:「清徵可得而聞乎?」師曠曰:「不可,古之聽清徵者皆有德義之君也,今吾君德薄,不足以聽。」平公曰:「寡人之所好者音也,願試聽之。」師曠不得已,援琴而鼓。一奏之,有玄鶴二八,道南方來,集於郎門之垝。再奏之而列。三奏之,延頸而鳴,舒翼而舞。音中宮商之聲,聲聞於天。平公大說,坐者皆喜。平公提觴而起為師曠壽,反坐而問曰:「音莫悲於清徵乎?」師曠曰:「不如清角。」平公曰:「清角可得而聞乎?」師曠曰:「不可。昔者黃帝合鬼神於泰山之上,駕象車而六蛟龍,畢方並轄,蚩尤居前,風伯進掃,雨師灑道,虎狼在前,鬼神在後,騰蛇伏地,鳳皇覆上,大合鬼神,作為清角。今主君德薄,不足聽之,聽之將恐有敗。」平公曰:「寡人老矣,所好者音也,願遂聽之。」師曠不得已而鼓之。一奏之,有玄雲從西北方起;再奏之,大風至,大雨隨之,裂帷幕,破俎豆,隳廊瓦,坐者散走,平公恐懼,伏於廊室之間。晉國大旱,赤地三年。平公之身遂癃病。故曰:不務聽治,而好五音不已,則窮身之事也。

This passage has been recounted by Burton Watson in his partial translation of Han Feizi (Han Fei Tzu: Basic Writings, 1964; his Chapter 4, Ten Faults, is Han Feizi Section 10).

Han Feizi also has several other stories concerning Shi Kuang. The original texts of the two quoted in Qinshu Daqian are as follows:

  1. (Paragraphs 9 an 10 of) the section called 難一 Nan Yi.
    晉平公與群臣飲,飲酣,乃喟然歎曰:「莫樂為人君!惟其言而莫之違。」師曠侍坐於前,援琴撞之,公披衽而避,琴壞於壁。公曰:「太師誰撞?」師曠曰:「今者有小人言於側者,故撞之。」公曰:「寡人也。」師曠曰:「啞!是非君人者之言也。」左右請除之。公曰:「釋之,以為寡人戒。」 10 打開字典顯示相似段落。

    As Duke Ping of Jin was drinking with his vassals he became intoxicated and thus sighed.... (A version of this story, which tells of Shi Kuang deliberately bumping into Duke Ping, is also found in Huainanzi: see the translation from Major et al).

    或曰:平公失君道,師曠失臣禮。夫非其行而誅其身,君之於臣也;非其行則陳其言,善諫不聽則遠其身者,臣之於君也。今師曠非平公之行,不陳人臣之諫,而行人主之誅,舉琴而親其體,是逆上下之位,而失人臣之禮也。夫為人臣者,君有過則諫,諫不聽則輕爵祿以待之,此人臣之禮義也。今師曠非平公之過,舉琴而親其體,雖嚴父不加於子,而師曠行之於君,此大逆之術也。臣行大逆,平公喜而聽之,是失君道也。故平公之跡,不可明也,使人主過於聽而不悟其失。師曠之行亦不可明也,使姦臣襲極諫而飾弒君之道。不可謂兩明,此為兩過。故曰:平公失君道,師曠亦失臣禮矣。

    Not yet translated.

  2. Paragraph 7 of the section called 難二 Nan Er:
    晉平公問叔向曰:「昔者齊桓公九合諸侯,一匡天下,不識臣之力也?君之力也?」叔向對曰:「管仲善制割,賓胥無善削縫,隰朋善純緣,衣成,君舉而服之,亦臣之力也,君何力之有?」師曠伏琴而笑之。公曰:「太師奚笑也?」師曠對曰:「臣笑叔向之對君也。凡為人臣者,猶炮宰和五味而進之君,君弗食,孰敢強之也。臣請譬之:君者、壤地也,臣者、草木也,必壤地美然後草木碩大,亦君之力也,臣何力之有?」

The latter is a story concerning 叔向 Shu Xiang, about which see further below.
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2. 27 lines
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3. Image of 師曠 Shi Kuang playing the qin Kaifeng honors Shi Kuang    
The statue above is in King Yu Terrace Park (禹王臺公園 Yu Wang Gongyuan), just outside the old South Gate in Kaifeng, Henan; the Yellow River used to flow through here. Yu is the legendary emperor better known as Yu the Great (大禹 Da Yu). The statue of Shi Kuang is obviously new.

In contrast, the image at right, from the same park, is an old photo (source) of what is said to be the oldest relic in Kaifeng, the Old Wind Music Terrace (古吹臺 Guchui Tai). This terrace is specifically associated with Shi Kuang. According to tradition, during the Liang kingdom, which from 502 to 556 was based here, their king was much enamored of Shi Kuang, who it was said had once come to Liang and entertained people with three days of music. In honor of this the king built the pavilion here.

This structure is apparently part of what is now called King Yu's Terrace (禹王臺 Yuwangtai). Modern images show an arch (牌坊 baifang?) with the characters "古吹臺" at the bottom of steps going up to the (Yuwang?) Shrine (example).
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4. Jin 晉
Jin (Wikipedia) was a state north of Chu, in what is today southern 山西 Shanxi province.
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5. Duke Ping of Jin 晉平公
In addition to his association with Shi Kuang the duke also figures in one account of the life of Bo Ya.
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6. White Snow (白雪 Bai Xue)
This attribution seems to come from passages in ancient texts that tell of disasters occuring when Duke Ping ordered Shi Kuang to play a melody of this title at an inappropriate time. For example, Huainanzi Section 6 (覽冥訓 Lan Ming Xun, paragraph 1m, has the following account (translation from Major et al, 6.1):

"In ancient times Music Master Kuang played the tune 'White Snow,' and because of that, spiritlike creatures descended (from heaven); wind and rain arrived violently; Duke Ping became impotent and ill; and the lands of the state of Jin reddened (with drought)."

A footnote comments, "'White Snow' evidently was a work of sacred music. When the Jin ruler Duke Ping ordered his music master to play it outside its proper liturgical context, the misfortunes named here resulted. A much more detailed version of the story appears in Hanfeizi, chap. 10." However, those longer accounts generally do not mention the title "White Snow". Its connection to Sunny Spring (Yang Chun) seems to have come later.
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7. Other stories of Shi Xiang
For the example the story associated with with Shi Xiang at Liang (in spite of the image at top), as described here, concerns wind music. The attribution to him of a Classic of Birds (禽經 Qin Jing) is mentioned above.
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8. Version in Shi Ji
Van Gulik, Lore, pp.143-4, translates the story from Shi Ji, Annal 24 (the whole annal is not yet fully translated). It is somewhat different from here, e.g., not mentioning the names of the melodies/modes: Pure shang (Qing shang), Pure jiao (Qing jiao) and Pure zhi (Qing zhi).

The story in detail is told in several other ancient sources. The Qin Shi version here seems closer to the one in Hanfeizi, 十過 10 Faults, though leaving out some details. Hanfeizi mentions the melody names. QSDQ, Folio 16 includes several briefer references from other sources.
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9. Shu Xiang 叔向 (d. ca. 528 BCE)
The original text of 韓非子 Han Feizi is given above; in it Shi Xiang plays qin as he gives his comment on Shu Xiang. Shu Xiang himself is also quoted in the Zuo Zhuan regarding understanding (the sounds of) 風 wind for political prognostications ("wind" could also be "airs", with the music of a country showing something about that country's fate).
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10. The 月琴 yueqin illustration shows not a modern yueqin but a guqin with a large round section in the middle.
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11. Original Qin Shi text
The original Chinese is as follows:

師曠,字子野,晉人也。生而失明,然博通前古,以道自將,諫諍無隱。或云,嘗為晉太宰。晉國以治,蓋非止工師止流也。其於樂無所不通,休咎勝敗,可以逆知。晉人聞有楚師,師曠曰:「不害,吾驟歌《北風》,又歌《南風》,南風不競,多死聲,楚必無功。」已而果然。至於鼓琴,感通神明,萬世之下言樂者,必稱師曠。

始衛靈公將之晉,捨於濮水之上。夜半聞鼓琴聲,問左右,皆不聞。乃召師涓,問其故,且曰:「其狀似鬼神,為我聽而寫之。」師涓曰:「諾。」明日,曰:「臣得之矣,然未習也,請宿習之。」因復宿,明日報曰:「習矣。」

即去之晉,見平公,平公置酒於施惠之臺。酒酣,靈公曰:「今者來聞新聲,請奏之。」即令師涓援琴鼓之。未終,師曠撫而止之曰:「此亡國之聲,不可聽。」平公曰:「何道云?」師曠曰:「師延所作也。商紂為靡靡之樂。武王伐紂,師延東走,自投濮水而死。故聞此聲必於濮水之上。」平公曰:「願遂聞之。」師涓鼓而終之。平公曰:「此何聲也?」師曠曰:「此謂《清商》樂者,不如《清徵》。」

公使為《清徵》,一奏之,有玄鶴二八集於廊門;再奏之,延頸而鳴,舒翼而舞。平公大喜,問曰:「音無此最悲乎?」

師曠曰:「不如《清角》。昔者黃帝以大合鬼神。今君德義薄,不足以聽,聽之將敗。」平公曰:「願遂聞之。」師曠不得已,援琴而鼓之。一奏之,有白雲從西北起。再奏之,風至而雨隨,飛墮廊瓦。左右皆奔走,平公恐懼。晉國大旱,赤地三年。。。。

然則琴者,樂之一器耳,夫何致物而感祥也!曰:「治平之世,民心熙悅,作樂足以格和氣;暴亂之世,民心愁蹙,作樂可以速禍災,可不誡哉。世衰樂廢,在位者舉不知樂,然去三代未遠,工師之間,時有其人。若師曠者,可不謂賢哉。及夫亂久而極,雖工師亦稍奔竄,是以摯、乾、繚、缺之儔,相繼亡散,而孔子惜之也。」

Punctuation mostly from Wang Mengshu and site.douban.com.
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12. Sources for the first section
See 漢書、禮記
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13. Shi Ji story
It is not clear whether Zhu Changwen is making his own paraphrase of the Shi Ji text or quoting some other early version (or paraphrasing). In the Shi Ji the related passage cited is directly preceded by a story of Shun playing Nan Feng Ge.
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14. 師涓 Shi Juan
This Shi Juan (Music Master Juan, 9129.117/2) is not related to #27 涓子 Juanzi. Xu Jian discusses him in his Outline History, Chapter 1. A. (p. 3), but only in conjunction with the story told here from Shi Ji.
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15. 師延 Shi Yan
Shi Yan (Music Master Yan) was Music Master of 紂辛 Zhou Xin (d.1122 BCE), the dissolute last ruler of the Shang dynasty. 9129.73 retells the present story from Shi Ji, Hanfeizi and Huainanzi, adding nothing about Shi Yan himself.
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16. 18003.383 清商 qingshang: one of five tones, autumn wind, and name of a ghost.
      18003.384 清商三調 Qingshang Sandiao: name of a melody
      18003.386 清商曲歌辭 Qingshang Qu Geci: Yuefu section
      18003.387 清商伎 Qingshang Ji: Tang court music
      18003.388 清商怨 Qingshang Yuan: 詞牌 cipai and 曲牌 qupai names.
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17. The meaning of 悲 bei
The Chinese word translated here and below as "moving" is 悲 bei, most commonly translated as something like "sad". For details on this see the wonderful article by Ronald Egan, Music, Sadness, and the Qin, HJAS 57. The original Chinese (the part in parentheses added from Han Fei Zi) has: 公曰﹕清商固最悲乎?師曠曰﹕不如清徵。 See further under Mozi Bei Ge.
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18. Pure zhi (清徵 qingzhi)
18003.674 清徵 qingzhi: 清澄之徵音 clear zhi tones; quotes the Shi Kuang story from Hanfeizi and 風俗通,瑟 Fengsu Tong, Se. The significance of zhi mode is also told in connection with a story about Mao Minzhong playing Guanguang Cao in zhi mode.
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19. Black cranes (玄鶴 Xuan He)
This site has a number of later references to black crane/black cranes (search); presumably they allude to the present story, though there is also another early story mentioning cranes told in connection with Chu Shang Liang. Note also the story from Korea about the origins of the komungo
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20. Qingjiao 清角
18003.149/1 清角 Qingjiao: one of the five tones; quotes a biography of Liu Kun, 晉書 History of Jin, Liezi, Hanfeizi (the present story), Wen Xuan and Su Dongpo. 18003.149/2 name of a qin belonging to Huang Di. In the Shi Ji version of the story, where the melody names are not mentioned, there is only brief mention of Huang Di. In the Hanfeizi version there is more detail about Huang Di gathering various spirits into a great assemby on 泰山 Mount Tai and there created the Qingjiao music.
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