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Jiu Kuang (Wine Mad) in Modern Use 1 酒狂之流行度
Ancient bells interpret anew the 1425 Jiu Kuang (other examples2) 8+1 Bells in the Museum of East Asian Art, Cologne 3    

In 2000 the Museum of East Asian Art, Cologne, (Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst, Köln) opened an exhibition that included nine bells dating from the Zhou dynasty: eight yong bells (甬 yong; Met) and one bo bell (鎛鐘 bozhong; EB). The bells are still on display as at right, together with sound files that allow Museum visitors to hear their original sound. This music was discussed on a Museum website bulletin dating from that time. It translates as follows,

This glockenspiel comprising nine bells is undoubtedly the most spectacular object in the Peter and Irene Ludwig Foundation collection at the Museum of East Asian Art in Cologne. In connection with the presentation of this approximately 2800 year old instrument, a project was launched to make the bells ring again so that this oldest playable instrument in Europe could be heard with its original music. At first the biggest problem was to find existing music that could be played on the bells. Like many carillons of the Western and early Eastern Zhou Dynasty (11th-8th centuries BC), the instrument has only four tones per octave, i.e. it is tetratonic. Taking modern European notes as a basis, the tone distribution corresponds approximately to the values  ​c - e - g - a  ​and encompasses five octaves (15 actual pitches).

Since no original music notation from the Zhou dynasty has survived, a younger work had to be found that could be played on the bells. The project turned out to be more difficult than expected. While pentatonic music is still well known and widespread in various cultures, there are hardly any melodies that are limited to a tetratonic scale (Wiki). The solution to the problem was found by François Picard, ethnomusicologist at the Sorbonne, one of the world's leading researchers in the field of Chinese music archaeology. In a 15th-century collection of melodies written out in sheet music for the qin zither and published as the Shen Qi Mi Pu (Secret and Wonderful Tablature) he found a melody called Jiu Kuang (Wine Mad). Although the melody was published in 1425, tradition has it that it dates back to Ruan ji (210-263), one of the famous "Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove". This is thus a four-note version of one of the oldest songs recorded in Chinese musical notation.

Modern vibraphone mallets of varying hardness and weight were used to play the eight yongzhong (yong bells) while a heavy drumstick with a steel core had to be used to make the big bo bell resound. The bell set then could be used as an instrument for the first time in 2800 years - which was a special experience for everyone involved. In addition to the fact that an instrument of this age can still be played at all, the captivating sound quality and even for today's ears unexpectedly clean tuning of the glockenspiel was a surprise.

The book about the exhibition shown at right was also published at that time. Book4 with CD-ROM5    

The CD-ROM published with the book has three sound files in addition to images and commentary. The three sound files have these three bell recordings:6

  1. 15 tones playable by the bells
  2. Bell version of Jiu Kuang (pdf)
  3. Bell improvisation.

The first recording arranges into a descending scale the 15 tones that the nine bells are able to produce. Most of the yong bells surviving from the Zhou dynasty are able to produce two tones, depending on where on the bell they were struck, so these bells altogether should produce 16 pitches. However, the lower bell here was apparently somewhat out of tune so only one of its pitches was used, and one of the pitches of the second bell matched one of the tunings on the third bell, so this left 14 pitches plus the pitch of the bo bell, hence 15 pitches/tones (further below). The Museum has published charts saying what these precise pitches are and where they were struck on the bells themselves. It is not clear whether over the millenia the bells that only produce one sound might have been damaged in some way.

The second of these recordings is clearly based on the melody Jiu Kuang but not only has the tablature for the melody been rearranged, the actual playing also in places diverges from the transcription. In particular the bells only play notes that approximate the modern c - e - g - a, but the melody mostly uses the scale ​c - d - e - g - a; in addition, several phrases also include an f. The bell performance solves this by changing any d to c or e, and omitting the phrases with f.

The third recording seems to be an improvisation.

As for the melody Jiu Kuang, its main historical sources are the following three publications of tablature for the Chinese seven-stringed zither (guqin):7

  1. Tablature for a solo rendition dating 1425 (tracing chart)
  2. A spin-off from this called Liu Shang (Floating Wine Cups) published in 1525.
  3. A version with lyrics published in 1589, making it clearly into a drinking song.

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Origins of this page
Grateful thanks to Tobias Junglas for alerting me to these bells and connecting me to research materials such as the recordings.

Jiu Kuang has become one of the most popular guqin melodies played today. However, those versions are quite different from my own, which are linked here. Mine were made with the traditional silk strings and the rhythm follows the Chinese tradition of double rhythms. Other recordings almost all feature guqins with nylon-metal strings, developed during China's Cultural Revolution and then made the required version in all Chinese conservatories. They also almost all follow the triple rhythm version devised in the 1950s by Yao Bingyan. Although that version is certainly a quite catchy melody, the triple rhythms have very little historical justification (further). Thus the double rhythms of the present recording are very refreshing.

2. Jiu Kuang in modern use: other examples Playing Jiu Kuang on the bells - for the recordings?        
This includes adapting the old melody to create new melodies as well as to re-create old sounds in a new way:

  1. A distorted version version I used in the 1978 feature film House of the Lute
    Actors: 任達華 Simon Yam Tat-wah, 陳立品 Chan Lup-Pun, 洛碧琪 Lok Bec-Kay and 關海山 Kwan Hoi-San.
  2. YouTube of 頤和園華爾茲 Waltz in Summer Palace for guqin, piano and clarinet; also 愛無界 Love Without Boundaries.
    Both by 陳欣若 Chen Xinruo, a professor of composition at the Central Conservatory; treats Jiu Kuang as having had triple rhythm.
  3. 陳欣若:酒狂 Wine Ecstacy for Guqin and Orchestra (2017), also by Chen Xinruo
    See Xinruo Chen's "Wine Ecstacy"; also from the triple rhythm interpretation (no recording)
  4. 譚盾:酒狂 Tan Dun Jiu Kuang: Premiered 2018 at a Beijing event called 英雄的盛宴 Heroes Feast. bell strap or handle (?) here and here, but I have not found a recording.

More recommendations welcome.

3. The bells Bianzhong: 64 bells of Zeng Hou Yi (維基百科)            
They are of two types, identified in Cologne as "甬 yong" and "鎛 bo". For these my references have:

  1. Yong: 22201 "甬:鐘柄 handle or strap for a bell". Elsewhere, bells that look like this (such as the famous set of 64 Hubei bells at right) are generally described only as (part of a) "編鐘  bianzhong" (28246.82: sets of bells, sometimes 16 in number). However, some sources (e.g., here) further identify the 64 bells as 47 甬 yong, 19 鈕 niu (along the top; 41110 seems to refer only to a loop, nothing about a bell) and one 鎛 bo (bottom, near center).

    Tong Kin-Woon, writing about bells as mentioned in Shang dynasty oracle bones, does not have this word, only (see XIV-2/137) "庸 yong" (a type of pole drum [?]), and "鏞 yong" (a large hanging bell [?]). The "甬 yong" bells most resemble what Dr. Tong refers to as types of "商鐘 Shang bell" (3834.xxx?), explaining that it is not known what the actual names were in the Shang dynasty. On p. 146 he adds that the Shang dynasty was named after the bells not vice versa. He goes on to say that in the Zhou dynasty the individual bells were usually called "鐃 nao" (41782; no image) or "zheng" (41175: should face up?), then says that the Shang versions were prototypes for the sets of bells that appeared in the Zhou dynasty, where they were arranged as and referred to as bianzhong, as above.

  2. 鎛鐘 Bo zhong 41616;
    Kroll: "mallet-struck large bell with flat rims and sculpturally elaborate suspension device." There is one fifth from right on the bottom row of the image at right.

The image at top has the bo bell hanging to the right of the eight yong bells; this image shows the eight yong bells standing on the ground. The Museum of East Asian Art Cologne has this set of bells on long-term loan from the Ludwig collection. The eight yong bells are: bronze, height ranging from 25.5 to 60.6 cm, late Western Zhou period to early Spring and Autumn period, 8th century B.C.

Prof. François Picard has written extensively on Chinese bells and chimes, especially his "Sur l'accord de quelques jeux de phonolithes et de cloches de la Chine ancienne" (On the tuning of sonorous stone and bell sets from Ancient China), 1986, with revisions in 2002 and 2008. As for the present set, he wrote in the above-mentioned CD-ROM that the eight yongzhong bells have the following tuning:
1.  g1# - d2
2.    c2 - e2
3.    e2 - g2
4.    a2 - c3
5.    e3 - g3
6.    a3 - c4
7.    e4 - g4
8.    a4 - c5

Theoretical (relative)
1.  a - c
2.  c - e
3.  e - g
4.  a - c
5.  e - g
6.  a - c
7.  e - g
8.  a - c

Prof. Picard added, "The overall impression left by the tuning of the double pitch bells is that it makes a scale that appears not pentatonic but tetratonic, do-mi-sol-la, structured by major thirds (do-mi) and minor thirds (la-do; mi-sol). Bell 1 then appears as out of tune, and we suggest that it too should be la-do."

There is much further information in the CD-ROM mentioned below.

4. Book with CD-ROM: Klangvorrat für die Nachwelt (Sounds Cached for Posterity)
The following introduction is translated from an online advertisement from www.kehrerverlag.com, which is currently selling the book and CD-ROM for 66,00 € :

This lavishly designed and richly illustrated book by the Sinologist Lothar von Falkenhausen documents a masterpiece of Chinese bronze casting art that is unique in the world: the only completely preserved carillon of the yongzhong type outside of China, located in the Peter and Irene Ludwig Collection, Cologne. The carillon is supplemented by a bo bell, which means that the Ludwig Collection has the most important group of Bronze Period Chinese bells in Europe. The bells are presented using numerous illustrations and classified in detailed essays in terms of art and music history. Acoustic investigations revealed unique characteristics of these bells, which are visualized in diagrams. An accompanying interactive CD-ROM rings the bells and provides background information. So the book is not only a profound presentation for the specialist, but also interesting for the layman.

As yet I have only seem excerpts from the book and CD-ROM.

5. CD-ROM: Klangvorrat für die Nachwelt Katalog (Catalogue of Sounds Preserved for Posterity) CD-ROM  
The contents of the CD-ROM published with the book (compare title of the book) seem to include, in addition to the sound files, the contents of this pdf file (128.7 MB). However the title for the text there is "Erste Teile" (First Part) and I do not know what else there might be (I have not actually seen the CD-ROM). The first part (which has many illustrations) is:

  1. "Die Instrumente und ihr Platz in der Entwicklungsgeschichted chinesischer Bronzeglocken" (The instruments and their place in the history of the development of Chinese bronze bells)

On the other hand, the timings on the sound tracks do align with what I have outlined above.

These materials have a lot of information but do not seem to say where in China the bells were found, or when.

6. Bell recordings
These recordings are mp3 files made from a CD ROM produced by the Museum itself. The image showing musicians striking the bells was apparently taken in the museum storage area. The musicians are playing from an arrangement of Jiu Kuang made by François Picard (pdf).

7. Original qin recordings
These are all recordings of me playing my own reconstructions from the original Ming dynasty tablatures.

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