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Xue Yijian
- Qin Shi #132
 
薛易簡 1
琴史 #132 2
Fame from playing this piece? 3        
Xue Yijian (ca. 725 - ca. 800) was one of the leading qin players and writers in the Tang dynasty. He apparently had an unusually large repertoire: according to the entry here by the time he was 12 he already could play 30 miscellaneous melodies in 黃鍾調 Yellow Bell Mode. The entry then lists the names of 21 pieces he could play by the age of 17.

Xilutang Qintong (1525), in its introduction to the melody Feng Xiang Qian Ren (as shown at right it has the alternate title 鳳雲遊 Feng Yun You, referred to below as 鳳遊雲 Feng You Yun), says that because when he was 17 Xie Yijian could play Feng Yun You so well, this led to him becoming a 翰林待詔 Hanlin Daizhao.4

It is not clear whether as a Hanlin Daizhao he had special responsibilities for qin. If so, this position might be compared to the position created in the Song dynasty called "Qin Daizhao" (Qin [Player] Awaiting Imperial Command).5

Xu Jian discusses Xue Yijian in his Outline History, Chapter 5. A. (p.56).

Qinshu Cunmu also mentions him in several places.

  1. Folio 2 #12 apparently quotes extensively from and about Xue Yijian's 琴絕 Qin Jue (Qin Marvels), but details are not clear.6
  2. Folio 2 #13 is his 琴譜一卷 Qin Handbook, One Folio, but there is no information about it.

The biography of Xue Yijian in Qin Shi begins,7

Xue Yijian used the qin as 翰林待詔 Hanlin Daizhao (?). During the Tianbao period (742 - 756)....

Further details in preparation.

 
Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Xue Yijian 薛易簡
329.29xxx. As yet I have not been able to find out any personal information about him.
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2. 35 lines
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3. Music for Phoenix Soaring to Heaven (Feng Xiang Qian Ren, aka 鳯雲遊 Feng Yun You)
From QQJC III/271. Explanation below.
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4. 鳳雲遊 Feng Yun You
The 1525 afterword for this melody does not mention the title 鳯翔千仞 Feng Xiang Qian Ren, instead saying only,

鳯雲遊,虞皇所制也,唐人薛易簡年十七能精此弄,繇是知名,易簡天寶中以琴待詔翰林,所著《琴訣》至今傳之,茲曲之來,當有自雲。
Feng Yun You was created by Emperor Yu. During the Tang dynasty Xue Yijian by the age of 17 excelled at playing this piece and this was a source of his fame. During the Tianbao era Yijian used the qin to become a Daizhao in the Hanlin Academy, and the Qin Jue that he wrote has been transmitted up to today. This piece should have its origins in the clouds.

I am not sure of the meaning of the last phrase.
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5. For Qin Daizhao see QSCB, Chapter 6a1.
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6. 琴絕 Qin Jue
Most likely this is a work that survives only in quotes from different places. Note that the Qin Shi entry here mentions his 絕 jue several times but not the actual title 琴絕 Qin Jue. As for the entry 琴絕一卷 in Qin Jue One Folio in Qin Shu Cunmu Folio 2 #12, after mentioning the Xue Yijian entry in Qin Shi then his 琴絕 Qin Jue and 琴談 Qin Tan, it goes on to quote from what it says is the 彈法 playing techniques section of 琴苑要錄 Qin Yuan Yao Lu ("凡鼓琴時無問有人無人。常如對尊長掣琴在前...."), but I have not yet found this there. He is also quoted in Taiyin Daquanji, but the text is different ("鼓琴之時無問有人無人。須有畏懼如對長者...."). And there is some similar information in the section called 撫琴絕 Fu Qin Jue in Xilutang Qintong, but again it seems to be from a different source ("鼓琴時無問有人無人,常如對長者,掣琴在前身須端直....").
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7. Qin Shi text
The original text in Qin Shi is as follows:

薛易簡,以琴待詔翰林。蓋在天寶中也,嘗著《琴訣》七篇。辭雖近俚,義有可采。今掇有大槩著焉,曰:

「琴之為樂,可以觀風教,可以攝心魂,可以辨喜怒,可以悅情思,可以靜神慮,可以壯膽勇,可以絕麠麈俗,可以格免神,此琴之善者也。鼓琴之士,志靜氣正,則聽者易分,心亂神濁,則聽者難辯矣。常人但見用指輕利,取聲溫潤、音韻不絕、句度流美,但賞為能。殊不知志土彈之,聲韻皆有所主也。夫正直勇毅者聽之則壯氣益增,孝行節操者聽之則情感傷,貧乏孤苦者聽之則流涕縱橫,便佞浮囂者聽之則斂容庄謹。是以動人心,感神膽者,無以加於琴。蓋其聲正而不亂,足以禁邪止淫也。今人多以雜音悅樂為貴,而琴見輕矣。夫琴士不易得,而知音亦難也。」

易簡嘗慕昔賢悉善鼓琴,自九歲學之至十二,拊黃鍾雜調三十曲,工《三峽流泉》,《南風》,《游弦》三弄。十七歲彈《胡笳》兩本,《鳳游雲》,《烏夜啼》,《懷陵》,《別鶴操》,《仙鶴舞》,《鳳歸林》,《沈湘怨》,《楚客吟,秋風》,《嵇康怨》,《湘妃歎》,《間弦》,《白雪》,《秋思》,《坐愁》,《遊春》,《綠水》十八弄。後益基苦心,周游四方,聞有解者,必往求之。凡所彈雜調三百,大弄四十。善者存志精之,否者旋亦廢去。今所彈者,皆研精歲久,竝師傳勘譜,親授指法,猶未敢言妙。每以授人,聲數句度。用指法則,毫寸不差,如指下妙音,亦出人性分,不可傳也。嘗覽操弄之名,凡數百首。然自古琴者,工三兩弄,便有不朽之名。或自制雜弄,或傳習舊聲。固不以彈多為妙也。今人皆不知志,惟務多為,故云多則不精,精則不多也。夫鼓琴之時,雖無人,須畏懼如對長者,則音韻雅正,可以感動幽冥。攬琴在膝,身須卓然。乃定神絕慮,情意專注,指不虛發,弦不誤鳴。凡打弦輕重相似,往來不得不調。用指兼以甲肉,甲多則聲乾,肉多則聲濁。甲肉相半,清利美暢矣。左右手於弦,不可太高,亦不可低。弦不疾不徐,手臂調暢。暗用其力,戒於露見。

夫琴之甚病有七。彈琴之時:
    目睹於他,瞻顧左右一也。
    搖身動首二也。
    變色慚怍,開口努目三也。
    眼色疾遽,喘息粗悍進退無度,形神支離,四也。
    不解用指,音韻雜亂五也。
    調弦不切,聽之無真聲六也。
    調弄節奏,或慢或急,任己去古七也。
此皆所甚病,病去則可以為能矣。

觀易間之意,亦可謂善其事者矣。

Not yet translated.
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