T of C 
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Chapter Five: Sui and Tang dynasties 1
Xu Jian, Introductory History of the Qin, pp.70-72 2
Part Two (Qin melodies) :

4. Yi Zhen

The preface for this melody in Shen Qi Mi Pu says,

"Yi Zhen was written by Dong Tinglan of the (latter half of the) Tang dynasty. Yi means nourish. Books on the Dao say: nourish the heart with as few desires as possible; nourish your natural character by doing things which calm the breath."

Based on this explanation, this title clearly reflects the idealistic beliefs in the philosophy of Laozi and Zhuangzi. In melodies, however, the situation often exists in which the title is one thing but the music is another. We know the matter of Dai Yong from the Northern and Southern dynasties once renaming the folk songs 何嘗行 Hechang Xing and 白鵠 Bai Hu as 清曠 Qing Kuang (see references). The editor of Shen Qi Mi Pu, Zhu Quan, also publicly admitted in his preface that "as for the ones which had vulgar names, all these I have changed (to more refined ones) in order to illumine the Dao of the qin". Thus, the titles of some melodies do not necessarily correspond to their content and can only be used as a reference when studying the content of the melody. To understand accurately a piece, one must thoroughly study the music itself.

This melody is short and refined with no sectional divisions. The melody mainly consists of two parts; the structure is: A + B + A + Conclusion. Its first part is mainly open strings with a small number of harmonic phrases. The melody, for example, has these sentences:

(Staff notation example not yet online; see my transcription m.34ff)

Its second part purely uses harmonics and the melody is repeated four times on different pitch positions, much like Zhaojun Yuan (see Longshuo Cao) and Meihua Sannong. The tune is:

(Staff notation example not yet online; see my transcription m.71ff.)

The repetition of mi ("jiao sounds") forms question-like musical phrases; the repetition of la ("yu sounds") has the sense of responses to this. The big leaps at the end of phrases contrast with the steady movement that came before. Yi Zhen has an ending which draws one into deep thought, the source material used by this ending has changes from what comes earlier in the section. The melodic sentiment is also very different: if one says the former part is bright and clear, clear cut and light-hearted, the ending is peaceful, thoughtful, somewhat sedate, and from a philosophical standpoint implicity sums up the whole piece. This (ending) section is as follows:

(Staff notation example not yet online; see my transcription m.175ff.)


Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. See footnote to the preface for details of the period covered (589 - 979).

2. Initial translation by Jin Qiuyu

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