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Chapter Six: Song and Yuan dynasties 1  
Xu Jian, Introductory History of the Qin, pp. 107-8

6.B.6. Qin Melodies : Melody Introductions 2  

6. Marshbank Melody (Zepan Yin) 3  



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

"This piece is said to have been composed by Xuejiang."

Xuejiang is Xu Tianmin, an important qin master of the Zhe school. Zepan Yin was created based on story about Qu Yuan (340?-278 BCE) related by written history. Qu Yuan was completely unable to achieve his aims in the state of Chu; after he was banished by the King of Chu Qu Yuan "he let down his hair and walked singing along the water's edge". (Shi Ji4) His own patriotic spirit had been stifled, so that "his form was withered and wizened", and "his face was filled with distress". To the fisherman Qu Yuan poured out his feelings of being "鬱結蒙塵 pent-up and covered with dust". However, the fisherman just "rowed off and left". (The introduction in) Qinyuan Xinchuan (1670) says,

Xuejiang wrote this melody in just the way Han Yu wrote the laments 'Youli' (another name for Juyou Cao) and 'Su Wu'.5 "A heart that thinks of its lord and is loyal and righteous, for 1000 generations as if it were 1, causes people to pluck the strings unaware of their hidden tears and spiritual distress."

This melody has four sections. The titles of each section (in Shen Qi Mi Pu) are,

  1. Wandering along the bank of the river
  2. Meeting an old fisherman as he travels
  3. Unfairly treated by society
  4. Paddling the boat and singing.

In addition to the section titles, Shen Qi Mi Pu has a few marginal notes. In Section 1 there is a comment that says, "his form is withered and wizened". Then a comment in Section 2 says, "I am the only one who is clear-handed." The latter is used for explaining the harmonics of the rest of the passage, as follows:6

(Staff notation example 1 [from Section 2]: omitted.7)

Section 4 begins with a repeated phrase. It has a note that says, "This section has the sound of rowing oars." This is the following melodic theme:

(Staff notation example 2 [from Section 4]: omitted.8)

The latter two sections use quite a few fa tones; there are also ti tones. This is a seven-tone scale with a distinctive style, but the melody ends with the note shang.

(Continue with Gu Yuan)

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Chapter 6 covers these dynasties (dates, capital city [modern name]):

Northern Song (960-1126; Dongjing [Kaifeng])
Liao (907-1125; Dading Fu [Daning?])
Southern Song (1127-1280; Linan Fu [Hangzhou])
Jin (1115-1260; Zhongdu [Beijing])
Yuan (1206-1280-1368; Dadu [Beijing])

2. Translation by JT.

3. Marshbank Melody (澤畔吟 Zepan Yin)
More information as well as links to further references are included with my own separate page about the earliest version of this melody, the Zepan Yin published in 1425.

4. 被髮行吟澤畔 See Annal 84 (2486); translation from Nienhauser, VII/299.

5. Su Wu: See Su Wu Si Jun

6. Transcription of Zepan Yin
This transcription of the Zepan Yin in Shen Qi Mi Pu has rhythms rather different from the ones in my own transcripion. It also indicates the first string is tuned to C while mine shows it as D (actually meaning the relative pitch re). Xu Jian does not identify whether the reconstruction he uses is his own or that of someone else. Other than my own I don't know of any recordings prior to the modern one by Yao Gongbai, said to be his own reconstruction, not that of his father Yao Bingyan.

7. Staff notation example 1
See my transcription, measures 33 to 48.

8. Staff notation example 1
See my transcription, measures 33 to 48.

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