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Qin Music from Ming Dynasty Handbooks
A solo performance of early music for the Chinese silk string zither
The Auditorium of the Neurosciences Institute, San Diego, California
Wednesday, 27 October 2004 at 8.00 PM

Except for the opening melody, this performance consists of qin ("chin", also called guqin ["goo" means "old"]) melodies (some with song) from four 15th and 16th century qin handbooks. Most of the music is said to have been collected from earlier handbooks. Each half has about 35 minutes of music.

All explanations are on a detailed printed program. The previous Sunday, October 24th, at Dizzy's San Diego, a complementary program, narrated and with different melodies, introduces the music and social setting of the qin, with comments on historically informed qin performance.

NSI Program Outline1

Part One: Standard Tuning

  1. Xian Weng Cao (Melody of the Transcendent Venerable One; oral transmission)
    A chant invoking Chen Tuan, a famous Northern Song dynasty Daoist

  2. Gao Shan (High Mountains) or Liu Shui (Flowing Streams; both 1425)
    Boya Diao Ziqi (Boya Mourns Ziqi; 1525)
    When the scholar Boya plays, the woodcutter Ziqi understands: after he dies, why play again?

  3. Zhi Zhao Fei (Paired Pheasants' Morning Flight; 1425)
    A male and female bird flying together remind a woodcutter of his lonely state

  4. Feng Ru Song Ge (Song of Wind in the Pines; 1511)
    Set to lyrics by the Tang dynasty monk Jiao Ran (730-799)

  5. Yao Tian Sheng He (Jade Sheng Heavenly Crane; 1525)
    Wangzi Qiao becomes an immortal, riding off on a crane from a Song Shan peak

  6. Liu Shang (Floating Wine-Cups; 1525)
    This variant of Jiu Kuang (Wine Mad) recalls a famous Xiuxi ceremony

    Part Two: Raised Fifth Tunings

  7. Chu Ge (Song of Chu; 1425)
    Farewell My Concubine (Xiang Yu after losing the battle for the throne)

  8. Taoyuan Chunxiao (Spring Dawn at Peach Spring; 1525)
    Visiting an Elysium

  9. Fan Canglang (Floating on the Canglang River; 1425)
    Contemplating nature from a boat; prelude to the next item

  10. Xiao Xiang Shui Yun (Clouds over the Xiao and Xiang Rivers, 1425);
    The clouds obscuring a mountain recall the Southern Song's loss of north China

  11. Yu Ge Diao and Yu Ge (Song of a Fisherman; <1491)
    The fishermen represent scholars at ease in nature

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. The dates here are those of the handbook from which the melody is played. The links go to explanations of each melody. (Return)

Return to my performances or to the Guqin ToC.