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Chapter Four: Northern and Southern Dynasties 1
Xu Jian, Introductory History of the Qin, pp. 50-51

(C. Concluding Remarks)2

One should also mention that at the time were many royal qin enthusiasts, among which the most prominent were: Xiao Luan, Emperor Ming of Qi; Xiao Yan, Emperor Wu of Liang; Xiao Yi, Emperor Yuan of Liang; also Xiao Ziliang, Prince of Jingling (see story under Liu Yun); and so forth. Among them, Xiao Yan wrote Qin Yao and Xiao Yi wrote Zuan Yao. Under their influence, the literati also authored much literature, such as Qin Lun by Xie Zhuang (Xie Xiyi, 420-466), Qinsheng Lu Tu by Qu Zhan (367-433)3, Qin Jing by Cui Liang and Qin Yong Zhifa by Chen Zhongru (519 CE). Most of the original books have been lost, but some fragments are still found in later records. For example, Qu Zhan wrote,

(Whenever playing the qin,)
The open string sounds are void and restful, light and dissolute like wind and water....
The harmonic (floating) sounds are subtle, beautiful, light and clear, like the nine verses of the immortal's song....
The stopped sounds resemble faint thunder, or the towering sound of a bell and drums, or the crumbling of cliffs....
Xinkan Taiyin Daquan Ji4)

This discussion of the three techniques, the open notes, the harmonics and the stopped sounds, summarizes their different characteristics in terms of timbre with metaphorical imagery. Although without integration with the content of a piece, the discussion is inevitably rather vague, it nevertheless reflects requirements for musical aesthetics and musical imagination. Among these the metaphors for stopped sounds are most numerous, from which one can see that the expressive ability of stopped sounds has been examined. The development of later melodies emphasizes variation on stopped sounds.5

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Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. The period covered is roughly 420- 589 CE.

2. Initial translation by Jin Qiuyu

3. Qu Zhan 麴瞻 (367-433)
48790.xxx; Bio/xxx. I don't know where Xu Jian gets these dates. "Qu Zhan" sounds like the nickname of a drinker. QYYL (Qin Sheng Lü Tu) calls him 西平麴瞻 Qu Zhan of Xiping, adding 字宣遠代王侯伯子男居仁義禮智信琳瑯為質.... References here include:

QYYL (Qin Sheng Lü Tu); seems to come from a 十二家琴樣,見別本.
QSCM (Qin Shenglü and Qin Tu), which calls him 宋麴瞻 Qu Zhan of Song (Liu Song 420 - 479?)
QSDQ (Folio 18), which has four poems
TYDQJ (Folio 4, quoted above; see 3#7; QQJC I/72)

4. See QQJC I/72. The complete original passage is as follows:


5. Later guqin melodic development
See further under Changes over time in guqin playing style

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