He Ming Jiugao
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31. Cranes Cry in Nine Marshpools
- Shang mode:2 standard tuning played as 1 2 4 5 6 1 2
鶴鳴九皋 1
He Ming Jiugao
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The preface by Zhu Quan (the "Emaciated Immortal") to this earliest surviving version of a melody with this title mentions perhaps the earliest literary reference, a poem (#184) in the section Xiao Ya of the Shi Jing (Classic of Poetry), which begins, "The Crane Cries in the Nine Marshpools".3 Another early crane-related melody, even sharing some motifs, Tale of Clarity in Thought and Action (Shuang Qing Zhuan), also known as Paired Clarity of the Gibbon and Crane (Yuan He Shuang Qing, includes lyrics that say, "The Gibbon and Crane were nurtured together."4 Scholars liked to have both of these animals in their gardens, the gibbon because it was human-like, the crane because it was a symbol of longevity (it was also said to be able to fly to the moon).

Both of these titles were quite popular during the Ming dynasty. He Ming Jiugao has a lively melody that survives in nine handbooks from 1425 to 1590; it then disappeared5 but has been revived in modern times.6 As for Yuan He Shuang Qing, it was apparently even more popular at that time but then also disappeared: it can be found in at least 17 handbooks from 1511 (where it was called Shuang Qing Zhuan) to 1618, but it was included in only two later handbooks, dated 1802 and 1884 (see tracing list).

Taigu Yiyin had both pieces, placing He Ming Jiugao amongst pieces it dates from the Zhou dynasty and earlier, and including Shuang Qing Zhuan with Song dynasty pieces,7 attributing it to a Song dynasty scholar official who became a recluse. Later commentators suggested that the recluse must have been Shi Yangxiu.8

Of He Ming Jiugao the 1557 handbook Taiyin Buyi wrote, "The Emaciated Immortal repaired (He Ming Jiugao), using the pleasant refinement of cranes calling in the nine banks, transferred into qin sounds."9

Whether this sheds any light on the actual date of the respective tablatures is questionable. Reading between the lines of Zhu Quan's account, he found an old tablature but considerably re-edited it.

Van Gulik's Lore of the Chinese Lute has an extensive section on the relationship between the scholar and the crane.10

Original Preface11

The Emaciated Immortal, in accordance with Qin Tradition12, says

this is an old tune. Xiao Ya has a section He Ming which says, "Cranes cry in nine (i.e., a row of) marshpools; the sound is heard in the wilderness;" and, "The sound is heard in the heavens." Zhu Xi's (12th c.) commentary says, "A marshpool in the bend of a river is called a gao; the number of marshpools is nine, exemplifying the depth and distance. The crane is a bird with an immortal spirit; its cry is lofty and clear and can be heard for eight or nine li." The meaning of this tune perhaps comes from its comparing the call of the crane and the music of the qin.

Once I raised two cranes in the bamboo grove of my Qin Courtyard. Sometimes they would look at their shadows and dance together; other times they would fly up together and cry back and forth. But it was only at certain appropriate times. As for dancing, when they felt a heavenly breeze they would dance in order to shake their feathers (and clean them in the wind); (as for crying out), when they raise (their heads) and to look at the Milky Way and see the divine,13 then they would cry out. If it wasn't the appropriate time they wouldn't cry out; if it wasn't the appropriate time they wouldn't dance.

People know that cranes are birds with a divine spirit, and thus we have this piece.

Music (timings follow the recording on my CD; 聽錄音 listen with my transcription)
10 sections:14

(00.00) 01. Aiming for Cloud Nine (the top of heaven; in harmonics)
(00.19) 02. Soaring up in the sky
(01.11) 03. Flapping wings to go skywards (in harmonics)
(01.30) 04. Sounds are heard in the heavens
(01.47) 05. Fluttering about, looking at the heights
(02.05) 06. (Cranes dance) Dancing in a circle, crying back and forth
(02.46) 07. Crane calls resound in the sky (like Section 4 but an octave lower)
(03.02) 08. Coming out of the clouds so as play with their shadows (like Section 5 but an octave lower)
(03.23) 09. Circling Cloud Nine (in harmonics)
(04.10) 10. A white crane in the blue-green sky.
(04.37) --- coda (in harmonics)
(04.52) --- Piece ends

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Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Sources for He Ming Jiugao
48157.155 鶴鳴 he ming; #3 is 詩經小雅 Xiao Ya section of the Shi Jing, with a quote. #3 under 12/1151 鶴鳴 relates the story of Shi Kuang playing the qin and cranes dancing, saying that this later led to the phrase "he ming" being used to praise the ability of the qin to move people with its exquisite sound (adding a reference to 元,鮮于必仁《折桂令,琴》曲); in this regard compare 琴瑟和鳴 Qin Se Heming (different "he"). Neither entry mentions 九皋 jiu gao nine marshbanks. However, 48157.157 鶴鳴之歎 mentions 鶴鳴于九皋, identifying it as the opening line of Shi Jing poem #184, 鶴鳴.

Regarding "九皋 jiu gao", TKW says "9" implies a long marshbank in the bend of a river, not a series of them. 173.389 九皋 also says it does not have to mean exactly 9; both here and 23231.0 皋 gao give the relevant quote from the Shi Jing and then a commentary by Jian 箋 "澤中水溢出所為坎" "so called hole from which water is flooding out in a marsh".

The character used for "marshbank" ("gao") can be confusing. The forms used in Shen Qi Mi Pu and most later handbooks, 30788 (自 over [see also 23241, with 白 on top]; the 十 is elongated and sometimes has an extra horizontal stroke; 30788 says "皋之俗字"; 23241 says "與皋同"), is not in my computer. The gao of 1511 is 23241, with the 白 on top. The other handbooks use one of these two except for 1552 and 1557, which have 皋 . 23231.0 皋 gao lists the forms mentioned above, and also 睾 , as alternates, but I cannot find a separate entry for 睾 in 中文大辭典; 漢語大詞典 says this form means 睾丸 testicles. Matthews and Wieger both seem to have all these forms as being interchangeable. There is the same problem with the gao used elsewhere on this site, including in the biographies of Shin-Etsu, Chu Shang Liang and Han Gao.

2. Shang mode
Standard tuning is also considered as 5 6 1 2 3 5 6. For further information on shang mode see Shenpin Shang Yi and Modality in Early Ming Qin Tablature.

3. Shi Jing poem 184, A Crane Cries (鶴鳴 He Ming)
This poem has two stanzas. The translation by Arthur Waley of the second stanza begins,

When a crane cries at the Nine Swamps,
Its voice is heard in heaven.

The complete original lyrics for this poem are as follows,



These full lyrics do not seem to have been set to any surviving qin melody. In addition, they cannot be paired to any of the surviving qin melodies following the traditional pairing method for qin melodies.

Note also that the second surviving title, dated 1511, has extended lyrics (中文 translation) but the 1511 melody is rather different from that of 1425 and cannot be properly paired there either.

4. 猿鶴雙清 Yuan He Shuang Qing
21054.31 猿鶴 yuan he﹕ 猿與鶴也。(宋史,石揚休傳)平居養猿鶴. Earliest version is 1511, Shuang Qing Zhuan. The two pieces share some musical motifs, but I haven't compared them closely. Van Gulik's The Gibbon in China (1967) is a fascinating essay in animal lore.

5. Recordings
In addition to my own there is also one by Yao Gongbai (his own reconstruction); since then there have been a number more. Yuan He Shuangqing has been recorded by Wang Huade (I am not sure of which version).

6. Tracing He Ming Jiu Gao
Zha Guide 5/51/72 includes two from 1561, but omits 1546 and 1551; see appendix below.

7. Taigu Yiyin adds lyrics to all songs. It does not offer any authorship for He Ming Jiu Gao, but attributes Yuan He Shuangqing to the Song dynasty scholar official Shi Yangxiu - see next footnote.

8. Shi Yangxiu (石揚休 995-1057)
There is some biographical information about him here under Shuang Qing Zhuan as well as a reference to a surviving poem and about the possible connection between the He Ming Jiu Gao and Yuan He Shuang Qing.

9. 太音補遺﹕ 臞仙所補,以鶴明九睾喻琴聲之清婉也。

10. Scholar and Crane
Lore p.141-7.

11. Preface
For the original Chinese text see 鶴鳴九皋.

12. 琴傳 Qin Zhuan
Is this a book name? Zhu Quan's sources are problematic. The book of this title attributed to Liu Xiang is too early.

13. lit. a shenwu: divination object having spiritual powers

14. Original Chinese section titles See 鶴鳴九皋. Timings here follow my CD.

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Appendix: Chart Tracing He Ming Jiugao
Based mainly on Zha Fuxi's
Guide, 5/51/72.

    (year; QQJC Vol/page)
Further information
(QQJC = 琴曲集成 Qinqu Jicheng; QF = 琴府 Qin Fu)
  1.   神奇秘譜
      (1425; I/145 [above])
10 sections, titled
  2.   謝琳太古遺音
      (1511; I/283)
8 sections (marked by circles); lyrics;
Related but quite different: details  
  3.   西麓堂琴統
      (1525; III/90)
9 sections, titled
  4.   風宣玄品
      (1539; II/194)
L (diff); 9 sections; related
  5.   梧岡琴譜
      (1546; I/416)
10 sections; related
6.a. 琴譜正傳
      (1561; II/415)
same as 1546
6.b. 琴譜正傳
      (1561; II/423)
9 sections; lyrics like 1511, music similar
  7.   太音傳習
      (1552-61; IV/99)
= 1425
compare next
  8.   太音補遺
      (1557; III/349)
10T; elaboration of 1425; intro says only, "臞仙所補,以鶴明九睾喻琴聲之清婉也".
(i.e., amended by Zhu Quan)
 9.   琴書大全
      (1590; V/489)
10 sections; related
Return to the top, Shen Qi Mi Pu ToC or to the Guqin ToC.