T of C 
Qin as
Qin in
/ Song
Analysis History Ideo-
Personal email me search me
Summary and Contents   /   Previous     /     Next     /     QSCB : Song and Yuan Dynasties   網站目錄
Rao Zongyi: An Historical Account of the Qin
  from the close of the Song to the Jin and Yuan Dynasties 1

6. Yang Shouzhai and his qin studies 2 六、陽守齋及其琴學  

I. The excellence of Shouzhai's ci studies and investigations of pitches

Yang Shouzhai (Yang Zuan; 13th c.) was the most knowledgeable music expert in the Song dynasty. His Five Necessities of Writing Ci Lyrics3) was appended by Zhang Yan (poet; 1248-1320),4 to his Wellspring of Lyrics (Ci Yuan)5 and was widely popular. The so-called Five Necessities (Wu Yao) were:

- Choosing the qiang (tune, style)
- Choosing the lu (meter),
- Being in accord with the tablature,
- Rhyming, and
- Postulating new artistic conceptions.

The ci of Zhou Mi (1232 - 1298) often mention him; (thus) his {[ci lyrics] Zhi Zhao} are known as "Grieving for Zixia",6 referring to Shouzhai. Shouzhai does not have a biography in the official Song History (but) an abbreviated account can be found in Tuhui Baojian.7 (Here?) Caochuang (nickname of Zhou Mi), in his Elegant Talk from a Superior Man's Studio,8 says:

"Yang Zuan, style-name Jiweng, nickname Shouzhai and Zixia, was originally from the Hong family of Poyang.9 When Linsun, the son of dowager princess Gongsheng's10 nephew Yang Shi, died at a young age, (Yang Zuan) was named as heir at younger than ten years of age. {Abridged} He was honest and upright, as well as self-sufficient. He was knowledgeable about music, and himself created 200 melodies. He once said that "one string of qin is sufficient for the entire melody." When multiple musicians are playing in unison, if one note is incorrect, he always noticed. All the musicians were amazed and thought that of all contemporary music lovers, nobody exceeded him. He was the Chief Minister of Imperial Granaries (sinong qing) as well as a (low level) military commander of Zhedong (eastern Zhejiang). His daughter was selected as imperial concubine Shu, and he was given the office of shaoshi (official of music). The melodies he transmitted were mostly of his own written tablature, but they are all lost.

Shouzhai was (thus) the adopted son of Yang Shi.11 {Regarding Yang Shi's biography, see Song History 324 "Biography of Yang Cishan" under "Royal Relatives on the Distaff Side" (Wai Qi). Cishan of Kuaiji was the father of Yang Shi, and the older brother of the Empress Gongsheng, wife of Emperor Ningzong}. (Yang Zuan's) daughter, in the second year of the Xianchun era (1266), was selected as Emperor Duzong's Concubine Shu {Song History 243, "Biography of Yang Shu Fei" under "Empresses and Concubines"}. From these imperial associations one can see the grand status that Shouzhai had among the imperial relatives.

(Zhou Mi's) Rustic Words of a Man from Eastern Qi, 10 has:12

"It was heard that during the childhood of Old Man Zixia (Yang Zuan) he followed his elder junwang (commandery prince, a royal title) {Note: this was Cishan} to an imperial feast, during which the dowager princess ordered female musicians to sound music. There was a total of thirty, ten of whom played at a time. Their music was masterly. Once the old man (i.e., the young Zixia) played on an xiangguan (an ivory tube normally used to hold a writing brush), making a few sounds which truly embodied the idea of standing clouds and falling leaves and sounding otherworldly. It was also said that the emperor emeritus, who most appreciated music, enjoyed this very much....

Emperor Ningzong's (r. 1195-1225) Empress (Yang) had a younger sister, commonly known as Yang Meizi, was skilled in calligraphy, very much like Ningzong. Many of the paintings in the imperial collection had her inscriptions. This included (her inscription of) a ci on the melody "Su Zhong Qing",13 that had the qin as its topic. {See Yunshizhai Bitan and Cizheng folio 5 "Ti Ma Yuan Ming Qin".14 According to this the poem was originally authored by Zhang Lun -- see Lian She Ci.}

A son of Empress Yang was garrison prince Hong;15 he also enjoyed playing the qin. {Regarding the biography of Hong, see Song History 246, three volumes of biography on the royal clan, and 343 "Biography of Empress Gongsheng Renlie Yang" under Empresses and Concubines). (Yang) Shouzhai enjoyed playing the qin and understood music; was this so because it was a royal enjoyment?

Shouzhai was a master of qin theory. In Guixin Zashi Hou Ji16 (Zhou Mi) said:

I visited the house of Old Man Zixia. He was a master of qin theory. Sometimes senior official Zhou, the artist of fish, was there. (Yang) was good at music. Whenever he was asked to write or edit tablature, if there was one incorrect note, the old guy (Shouzhai) would note the error. I once asked him: "wu, fan, gong, che (the names of notes)... what logic allows you to remember this so well?" He said: "The subtlety of the theory behind this exceeds words."

These anecdotes regarding Shouzhai fully demonstrate his mastery of music.

II: The compilation of Zixia Dong Pu

Song Lian, in his Epilogue to Mr. Zheng's Qin Tablature), wrote:

Of those who studied qin in the Song dynasty, most revered was Master Yang Zuan, a Vice Minister in the Court of Judicial Review (dali shaoqing). Zuan continued on into the Chunyou era (1241-53) and was most knowledgeable about qin. When he heard the sound of a qin he could immediately tell whether it was old or new. He regretted the long loss of the ancient sounds of Xi Kang, and worked very hard with his (house) guests Mao Minzhong and Xu Tianmin in attempting to find (records of the music). After over ten years, he finally found them in the home of He Zhongzhang in Wu (Suchou area). For a total of 468 of these Zuan determined mode, meaning, and playing style, compiling Zixia Dong Pu in thirteen folios. After this time, Xu's student Jin Ruli was deeply worried that his studies would not be passed down. So he took the five tones (i.e., music?) that Zuan had not had time to finish, and produced a modal intonation, a modal meaning, and a melody for each of them, altogether making 15 and naming them Xia Wai Pu.17 With respect to the sounds that (Xi) Kang had left behind, there then were no more regrets. (Song Xueshi Quanji 14)

Yuan Jue, in Qin Narration (Qin Shu), wrote:

Over the past 60 years, Sinong Yang (Zuan) of Qiantang18 was famous for his elegant qin. He had as (house) guests Mao Minzhong of Sanqu and Xu Tianmin of Yanling. From dawn to dusk he weighed qin theory, deleting and adding to make a new handbook, which he named Zixia (rosy haze) after his residence.

Regarding "Zixia", in Qidong Yeyu (Zhou Mi) records that {Shouzhai} "wore Tang clothing, sat in the Zixia building, playing an undecorated qin that he had personally made. He had recently crafted two melodies, Jade-Like Forest (Qiong Lin19) and Yu Shu.(") {Note that Yu Shu seems to refer to Yu Shu Lin Feng}. Thus Zixia is the name of the building in which (Yang Zuan) resided. His handbook included 468 melodies, collecting major works from pre-Song dynasties. The collection was so rich that no later handbook can rival it. {Of surviving handbooks, the ones that include the largest number [of melodies] are Xilutang Qintong by Wang Zhi of the Ming Dynasty, which has 170 melodies,20 (and) Tianwenge Qinpu by Tang Yiming of the Qing dynasty, which has 145 melodies; these cannot compare to Zixiadong Pu! From this one can see what a great many old qin melodies have been lost.) As of the end of the Ming dynasty, this book was still preserved. Thus Qianqingtang Shumu, extra 2, had Yang Zuan's Zixiadong Qinpu, 13 folios; it is regrettable that this is no longer found.

According to what Yuan Jue recorded, Zixia had a predecessor. He wrote, "connecting the work passed down in both north and south, covering Inner Chamber Tablature of the Xuanhe Period, from the north it being Wanyan pu and in the south being tablature for retainers in the imperial presence, is now the Zixia Qianpu.21 This Qianpu collected old tablature from the north and the south, including Inner Chamber Tablature and tablature selected by the Jin people.

Regarding the source of its old tablature: Yuan Jue, in his Qin Narration, said that it came from Han Zhongxian's old tablature collection and from the fifteen scrolls of tablature made by Zhang Yan of Guangling. Yuan Jue personally examined and corrected these, and had oral evidence from his teacher Xu Tianmin, and is therefore the most trustworthy. Song Lian said that these were from the residence of He Zhongzhang of Wuzhong, or from some other materials.

Regarding Jin Ruli's Xiaxai Pu, Wenyuange Shumu 13 records a collection of Xiawai Yin,22 missing one volume. Chao Li's Baowentang Shumu records a Xiawai Zhenzong Qinpu,23 which seems to be this book. And Shen Qi Mi Pu uses the label Xiawai Shenpin, which may have come from this book by Jin.

III: Shouzhai's Explanations of Qin Theory

Shouzhai's contributions to qin studies, generally speaking, have four aspects:

1. Setting forth Xi (Kang) as archetype

In Rao's original text this section is one long paragraph. It is sub-divided here in order to clarify the connection between sources and quotes.

Yuan Jue said, "Chief Minister of Imperial Granaries (Sinong) Yang (Zuan)'s tablature begins with Xi Kang's Four Melodies (Si Nong), which came from Han Zhongxian's residence." {Shiluo Dao Shi [part of Qingrong Jushi Ji]} Note that the Northern Song Qin Shu compiled by Mr. Shen begins with the record of the Si Nong of Xi Zhongsan (Xi Kang). {See Chongwen Zongmu and also Wenxian Tongkao} It is known regarding the Four Melodies that since the Northern Song dynasty there had been many copies passed down.24

Song Lian also wrote, "(Yang) {Zuan} regretted the long loss of the ancient sounds of Xi Kang, and worked very hard with his (house) guests Mao Minzhong and Xu Tianmin in attempting to find [records of] them.

And in {Epilogue to Mr. Zheng's Qin Tablature} (Song Lian) also said, "of literati who play the qin, Yang Zuan, style-name Shouzhai, of the Song dynasty is to be imitated; the reason that Zuan should be imitated is that he was in accord with Xi Kang of the Jin (222-277) dynasty."

{"Afterword to Taigu Yi Yin", see Song Xueshi Quanji 14} Regarding Xi Kang's Four Melodies Si Nong, the Song-dynasty monk Ju Yue, in Qinqu Pulu, wrote (as follows), "Chang Qing, Duan Qing, Deng Gao Yin Wang, and Chang Ce; these are called the Four Melodies of Xi (Kang)."25

Qin Yi adds, "Emperor Sui Yangdi took Xi (Kang)'s Four Melodies and Cai (Yong)'s Five Melodies, putting them together as Nine Melodies {Yuefu Shiji 59, under its preface to Mr. Cai's Five Melodies}.

Qinyuan Yaolu, referring to Qin Shu, has (q.v.): "Qiu Sheng, Lu Shui, You Ju, Qiu Si, and Zuo Chou: these are the Five Melodies of Cai (Yong). Chang Qing, Duan Qing, Chang Ce and Duan Ce: these are the four melodies of Xi (Kang). There are nine melodies in total."

Chongwen Zongmu: Qin Shu Zhengsheng also collected together such pieces as You Chun, Lu Shui, You Ju, Zuo Chou, and Qiu Si, calling them correct sounds (zhengsheng26).

Chen Yang, in his Music Book (Yue Shu) 120, Qin Melodies (Qin Cao; compare his Qinsheng Jingwei; see also a quote from Section 143), wrote: "At the end of the Han Dynasty there were five masters and five melodies; at the beginning of the Wei dynasty Zhongsan (Xi Kang) composed four melodies. These sounds contained qing and ce,27 and the quality was uncommon." Also under the 141st melody it said, "For those who wish to use Xi Kang, ones like Chang Qing, Duan Qing, Chang Ce, and Duan Ce are it."

Note that the names Chang Qing, Duan Qing, Chang Ce, and Duan Ce were all seen in Qin Li {Yuhan Shanfang collection}.

Xilutang Qintong also maintains that these four melodies were all composed by Xi Zhongsan and were in the shang mode.

Shouzhai's handbook (Zixiatong Qinpu) begins with Xi (Kang)'s Four Melodies, which were most likely these: Chang Qing, Duan Qing, Chang Ce and Duan Ce, which is what (the previously mentioned Chen Yang) meant by "the sounds contain qing and ce".28

Yuan Jue also wrote, "Cai (Yong)'s Five Melodies, which the Sinong (Yang Zuan) claimed to have carefully edited and clarified, were all recorded by Zhang {i.e. in Zhang Yan's tablature}." He also wrote, "Cai's Five Melodies and the four melodies in Chu mode29 survived until the Tang dnasty. That which we now call the Five Melodies were not personally conceived of and clarified by Yang. It is not appropriate that those who discuss this often think so." {Qin Narration}

(Yuan) also wrote, "The four Melodies of Cai were added to by Xi Zhongsan. The sounds were not the same as those of Lei; how could this have been done by a person from Zhe(jiang)?"30 (Concerning the calligraphy of Xu Tianmin) He vigorously argued that the Nine Melodies recorded in Shouzhai's tablature had such origins: that as Song Lian said, the literati's imitatation of Zuan used being in accord with Xi Kang as their reason. Song (Lian) criticized: "the Guangling San that Xi Kang created was in manshang mode and cannot be standardized with gong mode."

Regarding this (Guangling San), note that Han Gao of the Tang dynasty said, {Han (Gao), Lun Guangling San Zhixi, said that: "Slackening the shang (2nd) string to give it the same (pitch) as the gong (1st) string conveys the principle of a servant overcoming his lord." For specifics, see Jiu Tang Shu Biographies, 79, Biography of Han Huang, and Xin Tang Shu Biography of Han Xiu.}

Thus (Yang) Shouzhai's tablature begins with Xi (Kang)'s Four Melodies in trying to pursue the original source. This is what one means when he speaks of "understanding the motivations/movements through returning to the ancient".31 Yang certainly did not begin with Guangling San, and what Song Lian has discussed is not sufficient to consider this a flaw of Shouzhai.

2. Determining Pitch (; see important comments32)

Song Lian, in Epilogue to Taigu Yiyin, also wrote:

The ancients coordinated pitch pipes in order to determine the correct gong, considering a correct gong to be the basis for a regulated system of tones. Now (Yang) Zuan is using zhonglü (the third string33) as gong, which is rather like having a rotating gong (xuangong: in which gong is not fixed). If this is to be called xuangong, then why cannot any pitch be called gong? What difference is there between this and only playing in huangzhong mode?

Based on this, Shouzhai fixed the pitches, using zhonglü as gong, i.e. using the third string of the qin as gong. Investigation yields that Fang Shu34 of the Northern Song dynasty once said that in the contemporary court's Music for Imperial Sacrifices (Taichang yue) huangzhong was equivalent to zhonglü. Shouzai was learned in court music and the changing of zhonglü to gong was an enormous revolution in qin modality.35 Qin scholars of later generations who used considered the standard tuning (or correct mode) to be zhonglü were really following Shouzhai. Nevertheless there were many during that time who disagreed.

For example, Qin Source by Zhao Zi'ang (Zhao Mengfu) was written for Shouzhai. It said,

"The first (string) is gong, second shang, third jiao, fourth zhi, fifth yu; the sixth and seventh are based on the first and second." (And,) "so when the first string is gong, one then goes to the fifth string and stops. But if one stops at the fifth string no more tones can be added.... so the sixth and seventh are used to represent (the other two tones). The main body does not exceed five strings; the reason there are seven strings is use qingsheng (octaves) to return to gong." (Songxuezhai Wenji 6)

Note that of Huan Tan's so-called five strings the first is gong and the extra two (strings) are shaogong (lesser gong) and shaoshang. This of course is the old way of speaking.

Zhuzi (Zhu Xi), in Speaking of Qin Music Standards, already raised concerns regarding this, saying that Song dynasty qin players use zhonglü as the jiao (i.e., third string) of huangzhong, so compared to other instruments often (this note) must be one pitch higher so they can then be in harmony.36

Zhang Duanyi, in Record of Valuing one's Ears (Gui Er Ji)37 2, completed in the Chunyou era (1241-53) of Emperor Lizong, wrote, "I have attempted to examine with music theory the five modes of contemporary qin melodies. Gong is zhonglü; the other modes imitate this." This is sufficient to see that Shouzhai's use of zhonglü as gong was already popular at the time.

Many people discussed qin theory during the Qing dynasty; for example, Su Qinshan {Chuncaotang Qinpu, [1744]} still drew on Zhao (Mengu)'s opinion expressed in Qin Source to write that,

"Since the Song Chronicles and and Tang History, all have said that using zhonglü to tune the third string can be written as 'best'.38 Banquet music used this and it has been passed down to today. Qin players all learn this mode and so use the term 'zhonglü standard' (zhonglü jun39) to refer to the gong mode of standard tuning, now forgetting that 'huangzhong standard' (huangzhong jun) uses the first string as gong and the third string as jiao (i.e., mi, not fa) as the 'standard gong tuning'." {Qin Shuo40}

As for Ziyuantang (Qin)pu (1802), it maintained that using the third string as gong puts it into the center of a solid structure(liti), with the first and second then fourth and fifth strings on either side. {The sixth and seventh strings are octaves [qingsheng] of the first and second strings. This claim regarding a liti was disputed by Zhou Xianzu in Yinlü Tongjie, part of Qinpu Xiesheng.41}

Moreover, Lülü Zheng Yi42 ardently argues that the third string is gong. And Siku Tiyao (Siku Quanshu Zongmu Tiyao?), commenting on Qin Zhi (Qin Mandate) by Wang Tan (included in Siku Quanshu, Vol. 220), lists that there are five errors commonly made when discussing qin theory. The first is not realizing that for zhonglü the third string is gong when (its open sound has the same pitch as a stopped sound on) the first string in the tenth position (hui). This doubtlessly restates what Shouzhai claims, which is sufficient to show that Shouzhai's usage of zhonglü as gong has an unshakable value in the history of qin modality.

3. Assembling the Tablature

Song Lian, in his Epilogue to Mr. Zheng's Qin Tablature said, "Zuan determined 468 modal intonations, modal meanings, and melodies, producing the Purple Haze Grotto Tablature (Zixia Dong Pu).... Jin Ruli (...see above) took the five tones (i.e., music?) that Zuan had not had time to finish, and produced a modal intonation, a modal meaning, and a melody for each of them, altogether making 15 and naming them Beyond the Haze Handbook (Xiawai Pu)."

From this one can see that the way these purple haze handbooks (zixia pu) were structured. They were divided into five tones; there were three categories: modal intonations, modal meanings, and melodies. Today one can still see that at the end of the Song dynasty Chen Yuanjing, in Shilin Guangji, included a (diao (melody) for each of the five sounds (yin) within a standard tuning section. (And) Taiyin Daquanji, furthermore, had a gong yi, shang yi, jiao yi, zhi yi, and yu yi, and also recorded the (names of) melodies in each of the five modes, such as gong mode, shang, etc.; it then covers the non-standard modes, such as huangzhong yi, qiliang yi, wuyi yi, guxian yi, and so forth. This kind of structure of categorization seems to have taken its form from Zixia Pu.

4. Correcting the Sounds

Yuan Jue said,

"I studied Inner Chamber Tablature (gepu) when I was younger; its sounds were numerous and complex." {Shiluo Daoshi} He also said, "since the Shaoxing era (1190-95), those who study gepu all (have a playing style that is) charmingly familiar while neat and elegant." And he also wrote, "River-west tablature (jiang-xi pu) is more minute, with a sound that is especially complex (decorative). When Zhang Yan lived in Zha, he once said that gepu did not have elegant sound."

Thus when (Yang) Shouzhai edited the old tablature, he inherited Zhang Yan's desire to discard the complicated (overly decorated) sounds and return to ancient simplicity. In Qidong Yeyu, 18, (Zhou Mi) recorded that

"Old Man Zixia's knowledge of music is the finest in the world, especially of qin. He himself crafted hundreds of melodies, all of which were as unembellished and clear as music bequethed from antiquity. He also revived and verified over a hundred ancient melodies; and as for all the melodies in offical tablature from different times, he trimmed these all of excess. He said that all these excess sounds were the (unacceptable) sounds of Zheng and Wei." {"The qin's excess sounds of Zheng and Wei"}

This is sufficient to show that Shouzhai's trimming and embellishment of gepu, ridding it of complicated sounds and opting for a leisurely pace, contributed much to recovering ancient skills.

The four issues raised above give some insight to the main idea of Shouzhai's contribution to the study of qin. Guixin Zashi referred to the writings he left, saying,

"Within the qin the first and fourth, the second and fifth, (third and) sixth, and the fourth and seventh strings correspond to one another. If one causes movement in the first string, there is naturally movement in the fourth string as well. This can be tested with something as light as a feather, and indeed there is this wondrous natural connection."43

This represents the essence of Shouzhai's commentary on qin. The best of the actual qins that he collected was named Xiansu; he also had Qiujianquan. See the entry "Famous Qins" in Shi Hao's Liang Chao Zhai Yu, in a note attached there.44

Yang Zuyun was connected to Shouzhai's time and also very skilled in qin music. The Emaciated Immortal (Zhu Quan), in his preface to Xinkan Taiyin Daquanji, written in the guisi year (1413) of the Yongle era, wrote:

"This book was written by Tian Zhiweng with the title Taigu Yiyin; it included three folios. During the (Southern Song) Jiading era (1208-25), Yang Zuyun titled it Qin Wan Xu Zhi and submitted it to the emperor as an excellent work of the generation.

It is not clear who (Yang) Zuyun is.

Shen Qi Mi Pu, under (the melody) Shen You Liuhe, says,

"In former times the (school of the) Grotto in the Purple Haze considered this to be a secret piece which was not to be passed on. When old Yang Zuan was about to die he told his son to revise the tablature and was thus going to destroy it for students of later times (by leaving out the best parts). How could he have known that Xue Zusheng (another student) had already learned the original!

{Chengyitang Qintan says that "Yun Zusheng wrote Shen Tong Liuhe".} One says Xue Zusheng and the other Yun Zusheng. It is possible that Yun Zu- and Xue Zu- were the same person, but this is not certain.

IV. Yuan and Ming Dynasty Scholars' Doubts Regarding Shouzhai's Qin Studies

Song Lian, in his Epilogue to Taigu Yiyin noted two things that raised concerns regarding (Yang) Shouzhai's qin studies: one is that Shouzhai's discussions on qin promoted Xi Zhongsan, but Guangling San specifically slackens the shang (second) string, which cannot be held as standard; the other is that Shouzhai used zhonglü as gong, which was against the ancient standard. These two issues have already been previously discussed and will not be repeated here.

(As for another criticism), Yuan Jue said:

"As for Yang's tablature activities, it is either said that this sound was related to the period before and after the collapse of the country, or that Yang did not follow anyone and should not be studied [?]."

Note that this refers to the words of (Yuan Jue's) teacher Dai Yanyuan (Dai Biaoyuan). Dai, in Ti Zhao Zi'ang Qinyuan Lulü Hou, wrote:

People today who study the qin only (consider) Chief Minister of Imperial Granaries (Sinong) Yang. The sinong, when playing qin, did not follow the (correct) tones, he just pressed his fingers between the strings. Sometimes he attained fragmentary bits: in transmitting the melody Bai Yun {[should be Bai] Xue45} he said, "This is the sound of breaking bamboo."46 Sometimes he attained cawing sounds: in transmitting the melody Night Crow (Ye Wu) he said, "This delivers the sounds of the forest.47 With all the melodies he had this attitude. A melody would be formed and made to fit to tablature. Then he would say what was important and what string (or: what string was used for the main note) to make the melody (yin). Making such a melody would complete it on the qin.48 The music of the sinong was like the "sound of the lai ancient musical pipe" (lai sheng49 of which Zhuangzi spoke. How can this be music? So does sinong rather than apply music to his qin instead apply sounds without distinct pitch?.... Sigh! Why, Zi'ang, though I am foolish, how can I not disagree. Yet in the sinong's own time he especially called it new sounds; whenever the sinong commited a work to tablature, he would offer a sacrifice to the body of the qin in his bedroom, saying: 'How was I able to create these sounds? My qin must have an ancestor. I worship this ancestor.' I (Dai Biaoyuan) once privately tried to criticize this, this thing about the sinong's qin being the sinong's own ancestor and so feeding it. A qin as ancestor does not eat. After that the sinong's qin surpassed everyone else's. Women and children heard the sounds of birds returning to the forest and of bamboo breaking, and they smiled in jest.... Although I know not to take sinong's qin (as real music), I did not know what to take (as real music). Although I know that what others study is incorrect, I had nothing to tell others myself. Now that I have Zi'ang's book, I can finally feel some solidity in my heart. {Yanyuan Ji scroll 19}

Thus Zi'ang wrote Qin Yuan Lülüe (compare above) because of Yang's qin theory, and Yanyuan (Dai Biaoyuan) mocked Yang for, when composing melodies, drawing on descriptive notes (zhuangsheng) rather than musical scales (lü), adding the criticism that (Yang's) speculations were without basis. Yet Yuan Jue wrote: "I once studied the sinong's tablature and had some exchange with Xu Tianmin. I know that these sounds could not have been imagined by the sinong." His wrote Qin Narration in order to explain this issue, clarifying that Yang's new sounds were based on the old tablature that Zhang Yan and Guo Mian had passed down. Yanyuan was Jue's teacher; Jue's writing imitates Yanyuan's structures and discourse, but regarding qin he did not blindly echo his teacher's words. Yanyuan was not deeply immersed in qin and his writing did no injury to Shouzhai. He wrote that Bai Xue has the sound of breaking bamboo {originally written as Bai Yun, a mistake from the xue character}. It has been found that in Xiawai Shenpin of Shen Qi Mi Pu, the second section of Bai Xue has the annotation "sound of bamboo breaking"; the harmonics of the fifth section have the annotation "sound of jade dropping and breaking". This then was the old tablature of Shouzhai. When the ancients composed music, some used sounds to describe conditions. Bai Xue is an example of this.50

(Continue with Section 7, Shouzhai's long-term companions.)

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'ƒs 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. Initial translation by 金秋雨 Jin Qiuyu.

3. Yang Zuan 楊纘, Five Necessities of Writing Ci Lyrics (作詞五要 Zuo Ci Wu Yao)
The five are: 擇腔、擇律、按譜、隨律押韻、主立新意(立新意)。 (Further in an online essay).

Given Yang Zuan's importance to the qin it would be interesting to know whether he wrote anything about ci lyrics played on qin (see Cipai and Qin Melodies).

4. Zhang Yan (1248-1302; not 張巌 Zhang Yan)
Bio/1217: 宋,臨安人,字叔夏,號玉田,又號樂笑翁 Song, from Hangzhou, style name Shuxia, nicknames Yutian and the old man who enjoys laughter. ICTCL: one of the two Southern Song poets (along with Jiang Kui) most honored by the 浙西 Zhexi school. He was older than but apparently friends with Yang Zuan as well as Zhou Mi and 沈義父 Shen Yifu.

Zhang Yan was also an analyst of poetry (see next).

5. Zhang Yan: Wellspring of Lyric Poetry (張炎,Ci Yuan 詞源)
ICTCL says that this work of Zhang Yan "discusses some of the musical aspects of the song". Of most interest would be information that provides some hints as to the relationship between Song dynasty ci poems and the melodies on which they were supposedly based (e.g, was the pairing syllabic?).

6. Zhou Mi: Mourning Zixia (周密,腸斷紫霞 Zhou Mi, Changduan Zixia)
The title of this poem is usually Zhi Zhao (10483.32: 詞牌之名 name of the ci rhythm). As found online the whole poem is as follows:

徵招 宋周密

"Zixia" (Yang Shouzhai) is mentioned on the sixth line.

7. Tuhui Baojian 圖繪寶鑑
4942.101 name of a book in five folios by 吳興夏文彥 Xia Yanwen of Wuxing (Yuan dynasty; one Ming dynasty folio appended).

8. Caochuang, Elegant Talk from a Superior Man's Studio (草窗, 浩然齋雅談 Haoranzhai Yatan, 三卷 Three Folios)
Caochuang (Grass Window) is a nickname of Zhou Mi; Rao does not make it clear that this essay is included in Tuhui Baojian. Zhou Mi's essay begins,

(After this Rao's text is abridged. The following seems to be the original unabridged version.)
往謝史衛王,王戲命對云:『小官人當上小學,』即答云:『大丞相已立大功。』衛王大驚喜,以為遠器。 公廉介自將,一時貴戚無不敬憚,氣習為之一變。洞曉律呂,嘗自製琴曲二百操。又常云: 『琴一絃,可以盡曲中諸調。』當廣樂合奏,一字之誤,公必顧之。故國工樂師,無不嘆服,以為近世知音無出其右者。 任至司農卿,浙東帥,以女選進淑妃,贈少師。所度曲多自製譜,後皆散失。今書一闋於此。被花惱云: 『疏疏宿雨釀寒輕,簾幃靜垂清曉。寶鴨微溫瑞煙少。 簷聲不動,春禽對語,夢怯頻驚覺。 欹珀枕、倚銀屏,半窗花影明東照。 惆悵夜來風生,怕飛香濕瑤草。被衣便起,小徑曲廊,處處都行到。 正蜂癡蝶騃戀芳妍,怎奈向、平生被花惱。驀忽地省得,而今雙鬢老。』

9. Hong family of Poyang 鄱陽洪氏

10. Dowager Princess Gongsheng 恭聖太后
She is the same as Empress Yang (15489.200/5: 恭聖仁烈楊皇后 Gongsheng Renlie Yang Huanghou). From 會計 Kuaiji, she apparently became empress around 1200. She is apparently the mother of two other people mentioned later in this section, though this is not completely clear. First is the "younger sister", 楊妹子 Yang Meizi, I haven't found any further reference to her. The other is the son, garrison prince Hong (see further).

11. Yang Shi 楊石
In addition to the above see also Bio/838, which says 宋越州上虞人,字介之。楊次山子.... he was from Shangyu in Yuezhou, style name Jiezhi, son of Yang Cishan.

12. Rustic Words of a Man from Eastern Qi (齊東野語 Qidong Yeyu)
By 周密 Zhou Mi. See ICTCL/326: dated 1291; the title refers to the Zhou clan home area in Shandong (near 濟南 Jinan).

13. 訴衷情 Su Zhong Qing
36230.9 詞牌名 name of a ci pattern. Also a 曲牌 qupai.

14. Concerning Ma Yuan Sounding out a Qin (題馬遠鳴琴 Ti Ma Yuan Ming Qin)
I have not found this title, but I did find Concerning Ma Yuan's Illustration of a Qin Sounding Out in a Pine Courtyard 題馬遠松院鳴琴圖 Ti Ma Yuan Songyuan Ming Qin Tu). As mentioned, the actual ci is said in 韻石齋筆談 Yunshizhai Bitan (44272.7 a work in two folios by 姜紹書 Jiang Shaoshu of the Qing dynasty), and in 詞徵 Ci Zheng (36169.xxx) folio 5, to be by Zhang Lun 張掄 (Bio/1209: 12th c.; from Kaifeng but "Song dynasty"). One can find several poems by Zhang Lun that use the Su Zhong Qing form. The only one I saw that mentions qin is as follows:

閑中一弄七絃琴。 此曲少知音。 多因淡然無味,不比鄭聲淫。 松院靜,竹林深。 夜沉沉。 清風拂軫,明月當軒。誰會幽心?

Note that it mentions a pine courtyard. Perhaps the poem is included in the above-mentioned 蓮社詞 Lian She Ci (32496.44 says 蓮社居士 is a nickname for 張掄 Zhang Lun).

15. Garrison Prince Hong (鎮王竑 Zhenwang Hong)
Zhenwang (41622.xxx; 11/xxx) was perhaps similar to the above 郡王 junwang, an aristocratic title, but I can find no mention of it. Also, Hong 竑 26313.xxx and Yang Hong 楊竑 15489.xxx. Son of Gongsheng?

16. 癸辛雜識後記 Guixin Zashi Houji
By Zhou Mi: 23179.12 Book in two folios plus a two folio continuation, similar to his Qidong Yeyu.

17. A modal intonation, a modal meaning, and a melody 一調一意一操
In certain later handbooks melodies are often arranged in sets of three: first a 調意 modal introduction, then a prelude, then the melody itself. I don't know if this is related.

18. Yang Zuan of Qiantang (Hangzhou)This may simply mean that Yang Zuan was living in Hangzhou. Elsewhere his home region is stated as being in various places, but there is nothing specific about his actual birth place or date.

19. Jade-Like Forest (瓊林 Qiong Lin)
There are no known qin melodies with this title.

20. Rao actually calls it Xilutang Qinpu and says it has 135 melodies; the reason for this mistake is unclear.

21. 紫霞前譜 Zixia Qianpu
This qian can also mean "in front of", but apparently here it is interpreted to mean tablature that came before the famous Zixia tablature. Presumably this would have been a name applied after the latter was published, but there is no discussion of this.

22. 文淵閣書目,霞外譜,一冊闕 (Wenyuange Shumu 13: Xiawai Yin, missing one volume)
13766.484 by 揚士奇 Yang Shiqi of the Ming dynasty.

23. 晁瑮,寶文堂書目:霞外正宗琴譜 (Chao Li, Baowentang Shumu: Xiawai Zhengzong Qinpu)
7532.10: Ming dynasty

24. Transmission of Xi Kang's Four Melodies (Si Nong)
It is thus somewhat puzzling that these four were not more commonly seen in the early surviving handbooks.

25. Rao writes the melody names as "Chang Qing, Duan Qing, Deng Gao Yin, Wang Chang Ce. I do not know the reason for this. In addition to the citation given above, note also the listing in Qin Shu.

26. Not having seen the original, I cannot be certain that 正聲 zhengsheng here does not mean "standard tuning".

27. Clarity and inclination (清、側 qing and ce)
No entry for 清側 qingce (18003.xxx). There may be an intentional a pun here as the writer says that the melodies include qing and ce, while praising the sound as containing clarity.

28. See previous footnote. This comment does not seem to be particularly pertinent, unless it actually refers to all the listings of the four melodies.

29. Four Melodies in Chu mode (楚調四弄 Chudiao Sinong
Rao does not put this is quotes and I have not found specific reference to this as a group, but see in the You Lan list.

30. 蔡氏《四弄》,嵇中散補之,其聲無有雷同,孰謂浙人能之乎?
"The four Melodies of Cai were added to by Xi Zhongsan. The sounds were not the same as those of Lei; how could this have been done by a person from Zhe(jiang)?"
"Lei" could also be "thunder". Rao makes no attempt to explain what this might mean.

31. "Understanding the motivations/movements through returning to the ancient"
(能知故始 neng zhi gu shi" This is a quote from Dao De Jing 14.

32. Pitch (律 ) compared to Tuning/Mode (調 Diao)
My article Modality in early Ming qin tablature is based on a careful examination of qin music surviving in Ming dynasty handbooks published through 1550, plus reconstruction of much of this music and examination of many melodies published later in the Ming. The way this tablature is organized shows clearly that at least some musicians understood that modes (調 diao) were based on relative scale and tonal centers. (Regarding relative scales, in Western music modern pitch is often rendered in terms of absolute pitch: A=440 Hertz [vibrations per second]; relative pitch says A can have any pitch [it varied considerably in the past].) To emphasize this "A" is better called "la". Details of this with regard to early qin music are summarized in the chart at the beginning of my page on Modality. This chart was based not on what had been written about these modes, but on actual observation of the music itself. The most important fact that emerged from these observations is that no matter what relative tuning is used on the qin, or which string is used as the tonal center, for almost all qin music at that time the primary and secondary tonal centers were either do and sol (gong and zhi), or la and mi (yu and jiao). This is quite astonishing, suggesting that in Song dynasty China the two most important modal structures were closely akin to the Western major and minor modes respectively.

Regarding pitch (律 ), surviving early Chinese literary texts show an awareness of the mathematical relationships of relative tuning. This is also clear from an examination of the studs (徽 hui) on qin tops: for example, the hui divide the strings into halves and thirds (plus some multiples of these), showing the basis of a note system originating in the relationships of octaves and fifths.

Unfortunately, none the Song dynasty writings discussed and quoted by Rao in this section makes it clear whether the writers themselves were aware of these relationships. In this regard it is good to quote the following from Joseph Needham, Science and Civilization in China. Volume IV: 1, Cambridge University Press, 1962, p. 130:

"In China we have to deal with two distinct currents, the literary tradition of the scholars, and the oral tradition of the craftsmen who were expert in acoustics and music. From what follows it will be seen that the latter must have done a great deal of experimentation, asking questions quite parallel to those asked by the Greeks - but the details were only rarely recorded."

The lack of scientific precision in Song dynasty scholarly writing on pitch and mode can clearly be seen here in section six of Rao's article. The basic confusion seems to stem from the fact that the five relative pitches of the Chinese pentatonic scale are gong, shang, jiao, zhi and yu (often referred to as C, D, E, G, A, but these are better used for expressing absolute pitch, so here we use the Western do, re, mi, sol, la). In addition, gong, shang, jiao, zhi and yu are the names used for the first five strings of the qin. It turns out, though, that the actual pitches of these five strings in standard tuning are the relative pitches do, re, fa, sol, la (sometimes called C, D, F, G, A for convenience, with the reminder that these should not be considered as specific absolute pitches). Unfortunately, I have never seen an article explaining how it developed that in standard tuning the third string of the qin is fa, not mi.

One might expect that a justification of using the third string as do would refer to this problem in historical terms. According to the Chinese historical tradition, the qin originally had five strings, then later Wen Wang and Wu Wang each added a string, giving us the modern seven string qin. Presumably tradition would say that the original five strings were tuned do, re, mi, sol, la (gong, shang, jiao, zhi, yu). This should mean that on the seven string qin standard tuning would be do, re, mi, sol, la, Do, Re (Do here meaning an octave above do, etc.) Since, however, standard qin tuning with the first string as do gives do, re, fa, sol, la, Do, Re, it would be natural for someone to suggest that the two strings added to the original five string qin were not the sixth and seventh strings, but the first and second; this would make the tuning sol, la, Do, Re, Mi, Sol, La. This would thus provide an historical basis on which people could argue that the correct tuning of the qin should treat the third string as do. In fact, though, none of the writings quoted in Rao's article makes it absolutely clear on what basis one should consider the third string as do.

Instead, in the writings here much is made of the difference between 中呂/中侶 zhonglü and 宮 gong; these terms are never clearly defined, but Rao's examples show that "using zhonglü as gong" means using the third qin string instead of the first string as gong. The dictionary definition of zhonglü (76.244 中呂/中侶) is: the sixth of the 十二律 12 pitches. In this it should be contrasted with 黃鐘 huangzhong, the first of the 12 pitches: as the sixth pitch, zhonglü is the interval of a fourth above huangzhong. It cannot be a coincidence that in standard tuning on the qin the third string is a fourth interval above the first string. Thus if the third string is the tonal center of a melody with the relative pitch gong, it is natural to call this zhonglü tuning. However, using this logic should mean that when the first string is the tonal center with the relative pitch gong this should be called huangzhong tuning. As can be seen from the chart and from additional comments, huangzhong mode, though it uses non-standard tunings, does treat the first string as gong, but so do a number of other modes. And to top it off, all melodies surviving in early Ming dynasty tablature said to be in 宮調 gong mode use the third string as gong.

Another characteristic of some early qin melodies that absolutely needs discussion is the changing third in certain modes. Thus most Shen Qi MI Pu melodies in the shang mode, which generally has the scale do re mi sol la, with do as the tonal center, occasionally change mi to mi flat. Likewise some melodies that have la as the tonal center change do to do sharp. These changes are such a clear indication of mode that it is not possible to understand mode without taking this into account. Likewise it is crucial to know for how long this characteristic was part of the qin tradition. If contemporary Chinese writings never mention this characteristic, it suggests that the writings are basically for ideological use, with little connection to the music as it is played.

Hopefully these comments will not only allow the reader better to realize the problems of trying to understand section six of Rao's article, but will also help point the way towards understanding other contemporary texts on Song dynasty qin music.

33. Using 中呂 zhonglü as 宮 gong compared to having a rotating gong (旋宮 xuangong)
The definitions of xuan gong (旋宮 13969.32) suggest that it can refer either to changing the basic pitch (absolute terms) or changing the relative tonal center (as in modulation). Thus Song Lian's "using zhonglü as gong" may refer to a kind of modulation, where the pitch fa is considered to be gong. However, it could also simply be referring to using the third string instead of the first string as gong, and this seems to be the way Prof. Rao interprets this expression. Unfortunately, determining the actual musical significance of this is speculative to impossible in the absence of concrete examples.

34. Fang Shu 房庶
Bio/1602 mentions his Music Book Repairing the Abandonede (樂書補亡 Yueshu Bu Wang and Diagrams of changing pitches (律呂旋相圖 Lül&uul; Xuanxiang Tu).

35. Revolutionary attitude of Shouzhai?
It is not clear from this whether Yang Zuan would take any melody and call the third string "gong" for theoretical reasons; whether he looked at tonal centers and found that many melodies used the third string as gong, so he said these were correct; whether perhaps he either created or called for the creation of such melodies; or whether he meant something else entirely. In this regard, note that most of the "Most Ancient" melodies in Shen Qi Mi Pu are in "gong mode", with the third string as gong. This should be considered within the context of the comments above.

36. Zhu Xi on the correct pitch of the third string
This passage points out that although the actual relative tuning of the first three strings of the qin is do, re, fa, because the third string is called jiao (mi), players of other instruments if told to play "" will play the wrong note (mi instead of fa or vice versa) unless they know to make some adjustment. This is again related to the confusion mentioned in my comments above.

37. Zhang Duanyi 張端義 (1179 - ?), Record of Valuing one's Ears (貴耳集 Gui Er Ji)
Bio/1302 Zhang Duanyi, from 鄭州 Zhengzhou but later living in 吳縣 Wu county, was a scholar and poet whose writings include Gui Er Ji (37570.42, 3 folios).

38. Using zhonglü to tune the third string can be written as "best" (以中呂定三絃為『上』字)
This may refer not to using the third string as gong, but to tuning it up from "E" to "F" (guxian to zhonglü).

39. Zhonglü jun 中呂均
This term (76.244xxx; also 中侶均 76.xxx) seems to have originated in the Qing dynasty as a term describing a qin tuning, but it remains very commonly used today (see further).

40. Qin Shuo (琴說) in Chuncaotang Qinpu, [1744]
Qin Suo can be found on pp. 304-8 of Qin Fu. Discussing the modern terms for tuning and mode is beyond the scope of this paper.

41. 周顯祖 Zhou Xianzu, 音律統解 Yinlü Tongjie, 琴譜諧聲 Qinpu Xiesheng (1820)
To my knowledge this handbook has not yet been reprinted.

42. (御製)律呂正義 Lülü Zheng Yi
10312.12: a book in five folios compiled under the authority of the Qing dynasty Kangxi emperor. Included in Siku Quanshu, Vol. 215 - 218. It is said to show the influence of Jesuit, etc., advisors.

43.' Does this refer to a natural sympatheric resonance between two strings tuned one fifth apart?

44. 閒訴素 Xiansu; 秋澗泉 Qiujianquan; 名琴 "Famous Qins"; 史浩 Shi Hao; 兩鈔摘腴 Liang Chao Zhai Yu.
Shi Hao (1106-1194) was a prominent Song dynasty scholar official. Bio/426 mentions several publications but not I>Liang Chao Zhai Yu (1461.xxx). However, an internet search shows it to be extant.

45. 白雲 Bai Yun instead of 白雪 Bai Xue
Note a similar confusion in the Shen Qi Mi Pu Table of Contents after Yang Chun.

46. Sound of Breaking Bamboo (折竹聲 Zhe Zhu Sheng)
Note that Section 2 of Bai Xue is called just this, Sound of Breaking Bamboo.

47. Night Crow (夜烏 Ye Wu); cawing sounds (啞然者 ya shengzhe); "delivering the sounds of the forest (投林聲)
Compare 烏夜啼 Wu Ye Ti. In Zheyin Shizi Qinpu the title of Section 3 is 寒聲啞啞 "Ya ya" sounds in the cold.

48. 曲成,而合其譜,然後曰某主某絃為其音,(為其音)為某音而琴成。
This passage is not at all clear to me. Online versions omit the repeated "為其音" (seen in brackets above).

49. 籟聲 27343/3 references Zhuangzi 齊物論 (Section 2: All Created Equal (Ware). Near the beginning of the section Zhuangzi mentions the lai as played by the earth, by humans and by heaven. Presumably Diao Biaoyuan is suggesting Yang Zuan's playing is like the earthly lai.

50. Rao Zongyi uses the descriptive comments in Shen Qi Mi Pu titles as evidence that this was an ancient tradition. It is not clear why he does not see this as evidence that Zhu Quan must have taken these pieces from Yang Zuan's Zixiadong Pu.

Return to the top or to the Summary and Contents