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Chapter Six: Song and Yuan dynasties 1
Xu Jian, Introductory History of the Qin, pp. 110-112 2

6.B. Qin Melodies

2. From Title Lists Looking at Qin Melody Performance Development 3



We already know that Song dynasty tablature (music) saw many developments: from (the imperial) "inner chamber tablature" (gepu) to the "River-West Music" (Jiang-xi pu) popular at one time, to the deeply influential "Zhe Music" (Zhe pu; compare the Ming dynasty Zhe School and Jiang school). These all certainly underwent great changes, but because these handbooks did not survive there is no way to examine them directly to find out how the changes manifested themselves in the actual melodies. This is a disappointment to our exploration and review of developmental patterns in qin music.

Under these circumstances, the surviving melody title lists seem even more precious, because they can still provide much information regarding the development of qin melodies. One such list is Seng Juyue's Qinqu Pulu, found in Shuo Fu and in Qinxue Zhengsheng (QQJC, XIV/63-66), listing 223 titles; the other is Qin Shu: Qu Ming, found in Qinyuan Yaolu, listing 253 titles.

Neither of these two melody lists contained qin melodies created in the Southern Song dynasty.4 Generally, they can be considered as from the Northern Song dynasty.5 There are many similarities as well as differences between the titles they recorded, but both the similarities and differences reflect many developments in qin melodies.

First, similarities. Both lists are divided into Shanggu (see also in QQPL; Most ancient), Zhonggu (see also in QQPL; Moderately ancient) and Xiagu (see also in QQPL; Less ancient), and both are sequenced by the year of the melody's creation.6 The number of melodies listed, in both, has increased four or five-fold in comparison to catalogues from the early Tang dynasty. Among these, newly created melodies occupy about three-fifth of the entire list. These all suggest that within the Tang and the Song dynasties, there was much development in the creation of qin melodies. A list of new melodies must have given much weight to the "diaozi" (songs) popular at the time. Here we only focus on discussing the information about famous traditional melodies in these two melody lists.

  1. Based on the melody lists, one can confirm some ancient accounts regarding qin melodies. Since the Northern and Southern dynasties, the melody Wang Zhaojun has been said to have developed into variations by different schools. Was this claim supported? From these two melody lists, one can see that until the Song dynasty, there were not only the melody Zhaojun Yuan, but also simultaneously Shu Mingjun, Chu Mingjun (not this title, only Chu Mingguang), and Ming Jun. Thus one can see that the variations of Mingjun within different schools were kept until the Northern Song dynasty.

  2. Based on the melody lists, one can confirm that the tablature of some melodies did have a very long history. For example, the qin song Yang Guan, based on the poem written by Wang Wei, has many variations today. (The title itself is not on ancient lists, so) was it created during the Ming and Qing eras? Or did it originate in the Tang and Song? In the melody lists is a Hongyan Lai Bin. It is also marked as ruibin mode. Hongyan Lai Bin is the last phrase of the surviving qin song Yangguan San Die (Xu Jian is presumably referring to the 1864 version, but it actually ends with the lyrics "wen yan lai bin"; see comments). (Yangguan Sandie uses ruibin mode, suggesting that this melody was not newly created in the Ming dynasty but has a much earlier history.7

  3. Based on the melody lists, one can confirm the development of melodies with certain traditional themes. We know that of melodies regarding the story of Cai Yan, there were Da Hujia and Xiao Hujia in the Tang dynasty (on list see middle list #39 and middle list #40), and that a Hujia Shiba Pai (later list #45) appeared in the Southern Song dynasty. Also in the melody list are Bie Hu'er and Yi Hu'er (middle list #41 and middle list #42) "by Cai Yan", which also express the story of Cai Yan. (Hujia Shibapai, Bie Hu'er and Yi Hu'er) appear simultaneously in the melody list with Da Hujia and Xiao Hujia, from which one can tell that these (three) were created in the Northern Song dynasty.8
From the common titles recorded in these two melody lists, one can obtain the above insights. From their differences one can also analyze certain trends in the development of qin melodies.

  1. Qin Shu: Qu Ming lists thirty more titles than does Qinqu Pulu. Of the extra titles, some are known to be from the Song dynasty, such as Zuiweng Yin by Su Shi and Cui Xian. Some surviving melodies may also have originated in the Song dynasty. For example, Yu Mei San Nong, adapted from a Jin dynasty flute melody, may be (an early version of) the surviving melody Meihua Sannong. Also, this poses some questions worthy of further examination. For example, Shen Qi Mi Pu records that the melodies Gao Shan and Liu Shui were originally one melody. In Qinqu Pulu as well as in Tang poems, only the melody Liu Shui is found, without Gao Shan. It is only until Qin Shu: Qu Ming of the Song dynasty that Gao Shan appears, with the note "also named Huailing Cao". It appears with another Huailing Cao in Qin Shu: Qu Ming. Based on this, one can claim that Gao Shan was rearranged from Huailing Cao in the Song dynasty and that it came after Liu Shui.

  2. Different titles for the same melodies demonstrate the development of qin melody titles. Ci Hanwang Cao from Qinqu Pulu and Ci Hanbo from Qin Shu: Qu Ming are both marked as "by Nie Zheng" and listed in the "Moderately ancient" section. They also appear simultaneously with Guangling San in the "Less ancient" section; thus the latter Guangling San must have been considered as the work of Xi Kang. This may have been whence Shen Qi Mi Pu claims that Guangling San "has two tablature versions in history". Qinqu Pulu has the titles Da Hujia Shiba Pai and Xiao Hujia Shijiu Pai, consistent with what is in Qin Ji by Cai Yi of the Five Dynasties (see Congwen Zongmu9). In Qin Shu: Qu Ming, they are called Da Hujia and Xiao Hujia, consistent with Shen Qi Mi Pu from the Ming dynasty.

  3. The same title can be detailed or simple. Qinqu Pulu records Li Sao Jiu Pai marked as "by Chen Kangshi". It may be due to the propinquity to the Tang dynasty that the piece has remained the same. In Qin Shu: Qu Ming, there is only "Li Sao" without the author or the number of sections. This is closer to the style of Shen Qi Mi Pu. It may be due to the development of the piece into several variations, at which point it becomes difficult to distinguish the author.

The above is beneficial to the clarification of unconfirmed claims. It also aids in the elucidation of the development of famous qin melodies. In combination with existing analytical research of qin tablature, one can further determine the era of creation for certain pieces.

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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]) (Return)

2. Initial translation by Jin Qiuyu

3. Melody lists
See further data under Dating qin melody titles.

4. Xu Jian does not discuss the possibility that there were new melodies using these presumably old names.

5. ?

6. ?

7. Hong Yan Lai Bin 鴻鴈來賓
47821.118xxx, but 47821.177 鴻鴈 quotes "季秋之月,鴻鴈來賓 In the last month of autumn wild geese come as guests" from 禮記,月令 Li Ji, Yue Ming. Hongyan Lai Bin is included in both of the Song dynasty lists mentioned by Xu Jian, but only in the "Third Section" section (see also Less Ancient, where it is towards the end [in "qiliang" sections?]). Thus according to Xu Jian's own analysis this would be at most evidence for a late Northern Song melody title. Then, in addition to the problem of the lyrics actually being "聞鴈來賓 wen yan lai bin" instead of the "鴻鴈來賓 Hongyan Lai Bin" of the earlier qin title, the old lists actually say "qiliang", not ruibin. On the other hand, the earliest surviving versions of Yang Guan were in qiliang mode, not ruibin.

8. Dating Hujia melodies
It should be recalled that the surviving instrumental version of Hujia Shibapai has a clear musical relationship with Da Hujia, though it is very different.

9. This is somewhat confusing, as Qinshu Cunmu associates Cai Yi with Xiao Hujia, 19 sections and with the following entry, Qin Yi, which mentions 崇文總目 Chongwen Zongmu, but there is nothing about a 琴集 Qin Ji.

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