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Rao Zongyi: An Historical Account of the Qin
  from the close of the Song to the Jin and Yuan Dynasties 1

1. Foreword 前言  

Discussions of Chinese music history (today) seldom extend to the seven-string qin.2 Song Boyuan's Qin History only reaches to the northern Song dynasty, then stops {this book by Zhu Changwen was written in 1085 but not published until 1233}. Of the qin studies dating from the Song dynasty with which our generation is familiar, there is only Discussing Qin tones by Zhu Xi and Tuning strings method by Jiang Kui;3 other than this hardly anything is discussed. People do not know this about Song period qin construction, or about editing and publication of qin tablature: that the initiatives of the emperor Song Taizong {r. 976 - 997} led to there being a nine string qin, or that the broad transmission of his Inner Chamber Tablature gradually extended (from his court in Kaifeng) north and south, so that even in such remote areas as the desert regions of the Wanyan clan (that later drove the Song from north China and established the Jin dynasty) there was none of it that was not exercised.

The emperor Song Huizong (r. 1101-1125) established an Imperial Music Bureau (Dasheng Fu), and this to some extent brought about some rectification of qin standards;4 but then when it came to the end of the northern Song dynasty (1126) and the last two emperors (Huizong and his son Qinzong) were taken into captivity (by the Jin along with 3000 relatives), music instruments and writings also went north along with them. As (the rest of the Song) traveled south, the old tablature was lost or became unavailable. But then there was the material that through commerce was secretly brought and returned (to the Song); the qin tablature of Zhang Yan is an example of this. During the Lizong emperor's Chunyou period (1241 - 53) Yang Shouzhai (Yang Zuan) was marvelous with regard to the qin He used the prestige that came from his wife being part of the royal family to do especially wonderful investigation of music. Thus with his house guests he revised and polished old tablature, putting them in his Handbook of the Purple Haze Cave, which altogether had 468 melodies, the greatest accomplishment in terms of collecting qin melodies. Since the times of Cai Yong and Xi Kang there had never been such an achievement in qin studies such as that by Yang Zuan. This tablature was passed on through the Yuan and Ming dynasties, when it was called Zhe tablature (Zhepu). Unfortunately these written materials no longer exist.5 In recent years there has been a decline in qin studies, and so we have until now not been able to tell the whole story of his studies. Some even now study Yang Zuan as a person of the early Song dynasty.6 {See the recently printed book on Guangling San [the essay by Wang Shixiang?], with [a reference to] Dai Mingyang's "Study of Guangling San" at the end.7}

Although people consider Yang Shibai to have been a great master of qin studies, even the various parts of his Qinxue Congshu (1910) do not express ideas as great as Yang Zuan's. By drawing on the collected writings of Yuan Jue (1266 - 1327) and Song Lian {1310 - 1381), one can find some description of the activities of Yang Shouzhai. {See Yuan Jue, Qingrongjushi Ji, Folio 44, Qin Narration, Presented to Huang Yiran, and Regarding Daoist Luo [same folio], and Folio 49, Concerning the calligraphy of Xu Tianmin, 3 essays; also [Song Lian], Collected Works of Song dynasty scholars, Folio 14, Epilogue to Taigu Yiyin and Epilogue to Zheng Ying's Qin tablature, all discuss the origin and development of Yang Shouzhai's qin studies, clearly and in great detail. The section in Folio 1 of Yang Shibai's Informal Qin Studies8 that discusses Inner Chamber Tablature draws on [a Qing dynasty compilation called] Southern Song Poems on a Variety of Subjects,9 but the information it conveys is that of a paragraph in Yuan Jue's Qin Narration [included in the aforementioned Qingrongjushi Ji, Folio 44]. By drawing on the explanatory comments of Mr. Li [Li E?] he shows that was not aware that it cames from Yuan Qingrong [Yuan Jue]; this is 殊疏 somewhat lax.} As for what Yuan's Qin Narration says about Yang Zuan's tablature, it is full of details and points out very completely the most important literature for conveying a reliable qin history for the end of the Song dynasty.

I myself rather clumsily pluck at the silk strings, and also am involved with qin history. Thus, drawing on general literary works and sketches from the Jin and Yuan periods, I have basted together this essay in order to solicit reasonable comments. In it I have gathered up and compared materials, taking a lot of trouble in doing so. I do not dare claim to have clarified these obscure matters, but hope that in some way I have contributed some topics of conversation for those trying to organize our understanding of China's music.10

(Continue with 2. Prevalent qin tablature after the Song court's move south)

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)
Prof. Rao's original article had no footnotes, so the footnotes below are all added by the translator. The text above uses the brackets { } for Prof. Rao's original bracketed phrases, while the brackets ( ) and [ ] indicate comments added by the translator. In addition, some of the paragraphs in the original article have been sub-divided, with a particular effort being made to highlight Rao's various quotes from historical sources.

1. Song, Jin and Yuan Dynasties (see also article reference)
The period covered in Rao Zongyi's essay includes (with dates, capital city [modern name]):

北宋 Northern Song (960-1126; 東京 Dongjing [開封 Kaifeng])
遼朝 Liao (907-1125; various, including 大定府 Dading Fu - the Central Capital: 中亰 Zhongjing [寧城 Ningcheng?])
南宋 Southern Song (1127-1280; 臨安府 Linan Fu [杭州 Hangzhou])
金 Jin (1115-1260; 汴京 Bianjing [開封 Kaifeng] as well as 中都 Zhongdu [北京 Beijing])
元 Yuan (1206-1280-1368; 大都 Dadu [北京 Beijing])

2. 言中國音樂史者,罕及七絃琴
This comment and Prof. Rao's general comments about lack of knowledge of the qin, made ca. 1970, are now somewhat out of date. The primary reasons are increased interest and better availability of the original sources. At the same time, this situation emphasizes the value of Prof. Rao's work in making people aware of these materials.

3. Prof. Rao's comment here suggests that, at the time of his writing, schools were teaching only a few observations on music theory by two of the most famous literati of that time, with no particular discussion of the qin itself, or of its music.

4. 徽宗設大晟府,於琴律稍有校正
琴律 qin lü 21570.xxx; "" is often used to refer to music tones, but the significance of the establishment of the Dasheng Fu is more commonly associated with music in general; hence I believe Rao here is referring to its importance on raising the standards of qin music.

5. Presumably Prof. Rao is referring here to the original Southern Song tablature. Much of it is thought to be preserved in certain Ming dynasty handbooks, but it is difficult to prove exactly which parts of which versions of which melodies was copied exactly as it existed during the Song dynasty.

6. My copy of the article is not clear here. It seems to have: 或竟讀纘為宋初人.

7. Recently printed book on Guangling San 近印廣陵散一書
I am not familiar with this book, but the article referenced here, Guangling San by Wang Shixiang (published 1957 in 民族音樂研究論文集 Minzu Yinyue Yanjiu Lunwenji), has at the end a bibliography and the last entry in the bibliography is the article by Dai Mingyang. I have not seen Dai's original article and so cannot confirm that he said Yang Zuan lived at the beginning of the Song dynasty.

8. Yang Shibai, Informal Qin Studies, 2 Folios 楊時百,琴學隨筆,二卷
The edition of 琴學叢書 Qinxue Congshu in Tong Kin-Woon's Qin Fu has these Informal Qin Studies on pp. 858 - 887. The referenced comments in Folio 1/3 are on p.860.

9. Southern Song Poems on a Variety of Subjects (南宋雜事詩 Nan Song Zashi Shi)
2798.182 name of a book in seven folios, compiled during the Qing dynasty by 沈嘉轍 Sun Jiache and a number of others, including a 厲鶚 Li E (see text abov).

10. The original text of this closing sentence is,

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