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Chapter Seven: Ming dynasty
Xu Jian, Introductory History of the Qin, p. 128-9 1

(A). 3. Shaoxing Qin School2

Yin Ertao3 (ca. 1600-1678AD), originally named Yin Ye, style-named Zizhi, nicknamed Xiuhua Laoren, was from Shanyin (now Shaoxing), Zhejiang. He was often ill in childhood, so his father told him to entertain himself by learning qin. Once when he played qin at the home of his neighbor, Fan Yulan,4 the famous qin musician Wang Benwu5 was present and thus discovered his talent. (Wang) praised (Yin), saying, "How clever!....Thus he taught about fingering techniques, rules of music, and the difference between elegance of vulgarity."6 His study of qin therefore advanced significantly. After reaching adulthood, he travelled throughout Sanwu, Bamin, Huaihai and Xianghu.7 Wherever he went, he always visited the local qin players, discussing qin with them tirelessly. "At first (he) became familiar with new sounds, then acquainted with old melodies, thus his understanding was very extensive. There was nothing he did not explore, collecting (music in this way) for twenty years. Only then did he visit the capital."8

At that time in the capital there was an ongoing search for gifted people who could "write melodies based on lyrics". The Secretariat Drafter responsible for this task, Wen Zhenheng,9 met Yin Ertao on Chang'an Street and happily declared, "Now that you are here, the music can be written!" It so happened that the Chongzhen Emperor (r. 1628 - 1644) had written five sets of lyrics, and several hundred people had responded to his edict summoning matching melodies; none had been selected. Yin Ertao was recommended to the emperor and met him at Renzhi Palace.10 There he played Gao Shan and Saishang Hong, among other melodies. After having been ordered to write a melody, Yin Ertao, based on phrases like "wind and thunder" and "rainy and sunny", "judged the tones and determined techniques, using san, fan, gun, fu, boci, lun, and dai (various fingering techniques) to illustrate the imagery with great likeness".11 Chongzhen played his melody, following the tablature, and everything matched what he wanted. He laughed and said, "Immortal! Immortal! This man has the air of an immortal!" This was spread about in and out of the palace, so people began calling [Yin Ertao] Zhixian: Fabulous Immortal.12 Thus "Zhixian" became another name for the author. Yin Ertao was later appointed as the Secretariat Drafter of Wuying Palace,13 and was delegated the task of organizing all the old tablatute in the royal court's collection from past generations, including such old tablature as that for Xiaoshao Jiucheng.14 During this period of time, he authored such essays as Wuyin Qufa, Wuyin Quelun, Yuan Qin Zhengyi, Shen Yin Zouyi and so forth.15 Emperor Chongzhen later wrote five sets of lyrics that advocated Daoist ideas, among which were Kongtong Yin16 and Lanke Xing.17 He ordered Yin Ertao to write melodies for these lyrics; Yin wrote them, but before he could send them to the emperor, peasant revolution troops entered the capital and the emperor committed suicide. Yin Ertao fled and eventually wandered to Suzhou. There he wrote such qin melodies as Sumen Chang Xiao18 and Guilai Qu,19 among other melodies. These pieces, along with others he passed down, counted 73 in total. His friend, Sun Gan,20 collected them into Huiyan Mizhi and Huiyan Mizhi Ding, the latter of which was published in the 30th year of the Kang Xi reign (AD 1691).

Zhang Dai 21 (AD 1597-1689), style-named Zongzi and Shigong, nicknamed Taoan and Diean. He shared a hometown with Yin Ertao--they both came from Shanyin. Though he never became a governmental official, he came from a political family and enjoyed an affluent life. "He dressed and dined in luxury, met with national elites daily, gathered and enjoyed music, and reveled." Apart from being talented at playing qin, he was also well-learned in literature and art, and authored Taoan Meng Yi.22 In that book, he wrote of the Shaoxing school, Fan Yulan Silk (i.e., qin) Society, and other stories and historic information related to qin. Zhang Dai first learned Yu Qiao Wenda, Dao Yi and other melodies from Wang Lü'e of the Shaoxing school,23 then needed only half a year to learn from Wang Benwu some twenty-odd melodies, including Yan Luo Ping Sha, Wu Ye Ti, Han Gong Qiu, Gao Shan, Liu Shui and Meihua Nong (see Meihua Sannong). Wang Benwu's fingering style was round and quiet, with a slight hint of excessive ornamentation.24 Zhang Dai, based on his performance, "surpassed [him] through simplicity" and thus transcended his teacher.25 Zhang Dai and his classmates, Fan Yulan, Yin Ertao, He Zixiang26 and others formed a "silk society" (qin society). It met three times each month and in it they exchanged information and discussed qin techniques in a similar manner as was done by the Qinchuan Society (see Yushan Pai). Zhang Dai believed that "Zixiang has 80-90% of Benwu's skills and sounds a little too green; Ertao has 80-90% of Benwu's skills and sounds a little too conservative". When the four of them play together, it "sounded as if only one was playing", which always impressed their audience, as they were some of the best in the qin society. Other qin players from other regions had "an excess of firmness and a lack of flair", and none of them could surpass Wang Benwu in performance technique.27

(Continue with Creators of qin songs)

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Basic translation by Jin Qiuyu; (中文).

2. 紹興琴派 Shaoxing Qinpai (中文)

3. Yin Ertao 尹爾韜 (ca. 1600 - ca. 1678)

4. Fan Yulan 范與蘭
Fan Yulan (Bio/xxx) is mentioned again under Zhang Dai for having formed a 范與蘭絲社 Fan Yulan Silk Society (silk representing qin).

5. 王本吾 Wang Benwu

6. Source of quote not stated.

7. The places mentioned are as follows:

三吳 Sanwu: 10.632 "three Wu" gives a variety of places, mostly around Suzhou but also 吳興,吳郡,會稽 (Kuaiji, around Shaoxing)
八閩 Bamin: 1475.409 Fujian: in Ming it was divided into 8 路 regions
淮海 Huaihai: 18117.35 lower Huai River delta, Xuzhou and south to the sea
湘湖 Xianghu: 18223.58 lake near 浙江蕭山 Xiaoshan (between Shaoxing and Hangzhou; also an area west of Tiantai)

8. Source of quote not stated. The phrase 旁通曲暢 is defined at 6/1596 as 普遍通達 "widespread/universal understand". Zhu Xi's commentary on Doctrine of the Mean has the phrase 曲暢旁通 but I have not found a translation.

9. 中書舍人文震亨 Secretariat Drafter (Hucker) Wen Zhenheng,
Wen Zhenheng (Bio/304; 1585 - 1645) was from 長洲 Changzhou in Suzhou district. His Zhangwuzhi (長物志 Treatise on Superfluous Things - compare Shilin Guangji) includes information about guqin (text in Qin Fu). Folio 1 #12, for example, has the following details on the acoustic properties of a good room for playing:

「琴室:古人有于平屋中埋一缸,缸懸銅鐘以發琴聲者,然不如層樓之下。蓋上有板則聲不散,下空曠則聲透徹,或于喬松修竹岩洞石室之下,地清 境絕,更為雅稱耳。」

There is some related commentary in Gao Lian. Thanks to Luca Pisano for locating these quotes, which he found in 秦蓁 (Qin Qin), 在何處鼓琴. ——略論建築聲學與古琴美學. (Not yet translated.)

10. 仁智殿 Renzhi Palace

11. Various finger techniques
Again no source given for quote. Note that Yin Ertao's Huiyan Mizhi (1647; X) does not include any melodies with lyrics. I don't know why there is especial mention of 風雷 (wind and thunder; no apparent connection to the melody) and 雨暘 (43157.180). As for the finger techniques mentioned, 散音 is open strings sound; 泛音 is harmonics; 滾 is usually paired with 拂: up and down glissandi; 撥刺 is often called 撥剌 bola: quickly strike back and forth across two strings; 輪 2nd, 3rd then 4th finger srike outwards in succession on same string; 帶 is short for 帶起: pluck upwards with a left finger.

12. 芝仙 Zhixian

13. 武英殿 Wuying Palace

14. 簫韶九成 Xiaoshao Jiucheng is the name given to a melody that had appeared in recent qin handbooks. However, it was an ancient title originally with no specific connection to the qin. The signifance of its mention here in connection with Yin Ertao is not clear. (Return)

16. 五音取法、五音確論、原琴正議、审音奏議 are the names of essays. Huiyan Mizhi has titles such as 审音確議、五音辨、原琴正議. Why the differences in titles is not cleaer.

16. The 崆峒引 Kongtong Yin in Huiyan Mizhi Ding is unrelated to the earlier version.

17. 爛柯行 Lanke Xing
This melody survives in three handbooks, 1691, here and 1876.

18. 蘇門長嘯 Sumen Chang Xiao
Survives in six handbooks from 1691 (the one mentioned here is 1692) to 1894.

19. 歸來曲 Guilai Qu
The earliest version is in 1625, where it is called 歸來樂 Guilai Yue; no mention is made there of Yin Ertao.

20. 孫淦 Sun Gan

21. Zhang Dai 張岱
See the references under his Qinshi Xu entry.

22. 陶庵夢憶 Taoan Mengyi

23. 王侶鵝 Wang Lü'e (Bio. xxx); also mention in Zhang Dai's Qinshi Xu biography.

24. "Excessive ornamentation": the original term is 油腔 youqiang. It basically means that the person is very good at technique but may have overused ornamentation, in particular vibratos, so that the music is not plain enough. See further discussion).

25. 「以澀勒出之」,青出於藍,而勝於藍
The first part usually means being rather stiff in a bad way, but here it means simple, according to the previously-cited website. The latter seems repetitive, saying first that he transcended his teacher then that he was better than his teacher

26. He Zixiang 何紫翔

27. Quoting from Zhang Dai's Taoan Mengyi?

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