Yangguan Sandie
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13. Thrice (Parting for) Yangguan 陽關三疊 1
- Ruibin mode, raise 5th string one hui (position): 2 2 4 5 6 1 2 3 Yangguan Sandie
  The parting: see larger image 3                      
This melody, expressing the sentiments of friends about to part, is an appropriate last piece both for this qin handbook and for the recording. Such poems of separating (as with poems of separation) are often found in classical poetry. Another example is the poem by Liu Yong (987 - 1053) called Autumn Departure, set to the ci tune Bells Ring in the Rain; the poem is included here in a footnote in part because of an interesting illustration attached to it in a Ming dynasty edition.4

The Yangguan (Yang Gate) of the present poem was once a pass near the western end of the Great Wall, near Dunhuang. From the Han through the Tang dynasty there was apparently an oasis town at Yangguan, built around a lake.5 At the time, this area, as the crow flies about 60 km southwest of Dunhuang, was China's westernmost cultural and administrative center, often the last stop of an official before entering the "barbarian" lands of Central Asia. The 2000 km trip from the Tang capital Chang'an (now a southern suburb of Xi'an) to (or through) Yangguan would begin from Weicheng, on the Wei river just northwest of Chang'an. The departing friend apparently gets on a boat from the edge of a sandbank (shatou) on the Wei, which means he is heading upriver, entering the Wu Mountains after about 200 km. From near the source of the Wei river he could take several paths, but the final destination was Anxi (see the full title of the poem), probably the military region of that name hundreds of miles west of Yangguan/Dunhuang. These (except Dunhuang) and other place names are all mentioned in the present lyrics.6

The lyrics for the present version of Yangguan Sandie begin with the famous poem by Wang Wei, Weicheng Tune: Seeing Yuan Er off to Anxi.7

The morning rain at Weicheng dampens the light dust,
At the inn the lush green color of the willows is renewed.
This moves the gentlemen again to offer up a cup of wine.
Going west through Yangguan there will be no old acquaintances.

The lyrics here then considerably expand upon this theme, in doing so adding mention of the other geographic area described above as directly relevant to the trip westward, the Wu mountains (the refrain for all the verses of this song, beginning with verse two, is, "From the Wu Mountains' lofty heights waters flow east"). The sources of these expanded lyrics are often earlier poems of departure, most notably ones by Li Bai, Zhang Kejiu and Zhou Deqing.8 This explains some of the places mentioned here that are not directly relevant to the trip westward, such as the city of Yangzhou and the famous Yellow Crane Tower in Wuhan.9 It also includes some terms that could be place names but here do not seem to be,10 as well as some other terms that would have had special significance to people at that time.11

Versions of Yangguan make it one of the most famous Chinese melodies, often played on other instruments. Although neither Yang Guan nor Weicheng appears as a title in any of the early guqin melody lists, comments by Su Dongpo (1037 - 1101) show that a melody (or several either related or otherwise unrelated melodies) connected to these lyrics had long been popular in his time. A comparison of the settings of Wang Wei's poem in the three earliest surviving qin versions, here, 1511 and 1530, suggests that there must have been quite a bit of variety amongst the melodies used.12

Qin tablature for Yangguan melodies survives in at least 29 handbooks from the present one up to 1961 (see appendix 13). Early qin handbooks have two basic versions of this piece, a short one first found in Faming Qinpu (1530) and usually called Yangguan Sandie, and a longer one as here, usually (but not here) called Yangguan Qu or simply Yangguan.14

Both versions include the Wang Wei lyrics above, and both use variations on the same melody. The one commonly played today is a descendant of the short version, in three sections; it is played largely as printed in Qinxue Rumen15 (1864), but can be traced back to the version mentioned above as first published in 1530. The long one, which can be traced to this one dated ca. 1491, generally has eight or nine sections. It occurs in eight handbooks through 1623, then again crops up in two 19th century handbooks. Four handbooks have both versions.

The expression sandie, meaning "three repetitions", is also found in the phrase "qinxin sandie".16 There was once a book or essay called Qin Xin Sanpian, but there was no known melody called Qin Xin: it is a phrase that means something like "qin thinking", or, "expressing oneself through the qin". Sandie, when used together with qin xin, is connected to the idea that playing something on the qin three times can lead to becoming one with the instrument.

Modern versions all use ruibin (raised fifth string) tuning, but early tablature may use either ruibin or qiliang (raised second and fifth strings; see comment). Some, as here, say or imply they use qiliang, but actually use ruibin. It is easy to convert this melody from one tuning to the other, because the second string is not used much. Main cadences are on 6 (la), as is common in ruibin mode.

Because the end of the Zheyin manuscript is missing, the last two lines here have had to be reconstructed based on other versions.17

Zheyin Shizi Qinpu Preface18

The Beyond-Sounds Immortal says,

This melody originated with Wang Mojie (Wang Wei), but later people added to it. The Royal Ancestor's Handbook does not have this melody. It seems as though, in our lives, (friends) are rarely together, they are often separated. At the point of departure they hold a cup of wine and three times sing Yangguan, with words like "going to the west there will be no old friends" (and) "people of Wu and Chu (i.e., neighbors) share the same melancholy ". Is this not sad?

Timings follow the recording on
my CD; 聽錄音 listen with my new transcription.
8 Sections titled and with lyrics.19

00.00   1. Rain at the edge of the sandbank
00.28   2. Releasing the magnolia boat
00.59   3. Leaving (as at) Yellow Crane Tower
01.37   4. Going on a distant road
02.37   5. Sorrow comes and goes like the tide
03.59   6. Wind blows in the willows
04.58   7. The moon shines on the sandbank
05.35   8. Repeatedly (asking the parting friend) to return
06.26       Original tablature ends; see comment
06.45       Closing harmonics
07.04       End

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. 陽關三疊 Yang Guan San Die references
This title is often translated as Three Repetitions of "Yangguan", and in most versions Wang Wei's poem is repeated three times. However, in the longer versions the characteristic tune/lyrics are repeated many times. "Thrice Parting For" allows for the idea that each attempt at parting included repeating the melody several times.

It generally seems to be assumed that Tang dynasty references to a melody with Yang Guan in or as its title refer to a version of the present melody, but there is no hard evidence to either support or contradict such an assumption. In particular, references specifically to Yangguan Sandie seem to date only from the Song dynasty (further comment).

42673.379 陽關 refers only to the place. 42673.380 陽關三疊 says it is "陽關曲反覆歌之之謂,參見陽關曲條 the name of Yuanguan Qu with the lyrics repeated, see Yangguan Qu" (.381; below). The earliest quote in the lengthy entry, from Su Dongpo (蘇軾,和孔密州五絕,見邸家園留題詩:陽關三疊君順祕[秘/密],除卻膠西不解歌。 ), refers to his own departure from Mizhou. Su Dongpo also once wrote Three Poems on Yangguan Lyrics.

42673.384 陽關曲 Yangguan Qu says it is 曲調名,渭城曲之別名 the name of a melody, another name for Melody of Weicheng, as well as 小秦王 Xiao Qinwang; it was a 清平調 qingping melody and originally a poem by Wang Wei (which it quotes), then it entered 樂府 the Music Bureau. Yuefu Shiji includes Wang Wei's poem in Folio 80, amongst its Songs of recent times (近代曲辭 Jindai qu ci). The entry mentions 陽關三疊 several times but does not give a quote that can be used as an earliest reference.

Stuart Sargent has commented on Su Dongpo's treatment of Yang Guan. And "Dapu, Bringing Old Music to Life" has some analysis of the rhythms of the Zheyin Shizi Qinpu version of Yangguan Sandie.

2. Ruibin and other tunings and modes for Yangguan Sandie)
Here Yangguan Sandie is grouped with qiliang mode pieces, which raise the 2nd and 5th strings, but in fact it uses ruibin tuning, which raises only the fifth string. Compare the short version, which today uses ruibin but which in the earliest surviving version (1530) uses qiliang (see also below). If not otherwise indicated, which tuning is being used can be determined by seeing whether the second string is stopped in the 10th position, as in ruibin tuning, or in the 11th position (today 10.8), as in qiliang tuning. In Zheyin Shizi Qinpu it is stopped at the 11th position.

Which tuning is used here does not seem to affect the modal characteristics, which concern primary and secondary tonal centers (see Modality in Early Ming Qin Tablature). Here the primary tonal center seems to be re with the secondary center la (most sections end on la, but the whole piece ends on re). (See comment by Xu Jian in QSCB, p.74. In the longer version mi seems to have more prominence; la mi is a characteristic of the standard tuning yu mode. No standard tuning modes melodies seem to be re la.

3. Image
Painting by Sun Chengmin.

4. Liu Yong: Autumn Departure, to the tune Bells Ring in the Rain (柳永:秋別,雨霖鈴) Detail of a Ming illustration (source; see full version)    
The full version of the image at right pairs it with a poem sometimes called Autumn Departure by Liu Yong (987 - 1053), one of his Ci Poems about Distant Sojourns Required by Public Duty (羈旅行役詞 Jilü Xingyi Ci). The poem does not mention qin, but the image shows that as the man is about to depart by boat, a servant carrying on a pole a qin and perhaps books is about to load them on the boat; to the right there seem to be some boxes, perhaps with food, presumably also about to be taken. The wheel is perhaps part of a wheelbarrow. The writing on the full picture says that a wife is saying goodbye to her husband as he leaves to take the official exams. There is further comment on "qin and books" together with another image. The full poem text is as follows:



Cicadas shrill, drearily shrill. We stand face to face at an evening hour before the pavilion, after a sudden shower.
Can we care for drinking before we part? At the city gate We are lingering late, But the boat is waiting for you to depart.
Hand in hand, we gaze at each other's tearful eyes, And burst into sobs with words congealed on our lips.
You'll go your way, Far, far away. On miles and miles of misty waves where sail the ships and evening clouds hang low in boundless southern skies.

Lovers would grieve at parting as of old. How could you stand this clear autumn day so cold!
Where will you be found at daybreak, From wine awake? Moored by a riverbak planted with willow trees, Beneath the waning moon and in the morning breeze.
You'll be gone for a year. What could I do with all bright days and fine scenes here!
Howe'er coquettish I am on my part, To whom can I lay bare my heart?

Translation from Xu Yuanzhong, p.176; the extra capital letters reflect the way the poem was arranged in that book on more lines.

The poem above is said to be the most famous one in the ci pattern Bells Ring in the Rain (雨霖鈴 Yulin Ling), though its character count (50+52) is a bit different from what is said to be standard. This ci form is unrelated to that of the poem of this title in YFSJ. (For lyrics by Liu Yong that can be paired to a qin melody see Libie Nan).

Another poem in the ci tune Bells Ring in the Rain (雨霖鈴 Yulin Ling) See text  
The following poem was said in 明皇雜錄 Minghuang Zalu (specifically here; also see chinaknowledge.de) to have been written by Tang emperor Xuanzong while he was in Shu (Sichuan) fleeing the An Lushan rebellion: hearing a bell in the rain is said to have reminded him of Yang Guifei. The poem (not included in Minghuang Zalu) goes,



There is no translation as yet, and apparently no real evidence for Xuanzong as the author.

Part of this poem appears in this YouTube video (from 48.30) telling a story said to be connected to a famous qin called Colorful Phoenix Calls up the Mountains (采鳳鳴岐 Cai Feng Ming Qi), the back or which is shown at right. That qin is from a group of ancient qins that had been collected by Yang Shibai that are now in the Zhejiang Museum in Hangzhou. Modern recordings, with silk strings, are on this double CD (e.g., Liu Shang), and in 2010 I took part in a performance that included this and another Tang dynasty qin (details). I performed with the other qin but also took the opportunity actually to play Cai Feng Ming Qi.

There is some discussion in the video of the inscription on the qin, which was written by Yang Shibai himself. The complete text (see closeup from the image at right) has been transcribed clearly here. There one can read that the upper text is a poem ([7x4] x 7), beginning, "唐琴第一推雷公...."; the lower text begins, "庚申二月,與朗貝勒公祭長沙...."

However, in the video the actual instrument looks like a caricature of a real qin, and there seems to be only a short except with music actually played on the original instrument (45.22 to 45.47). The rest of the video seems to have been done by someone who either didn't like Chinese music or assumed his audience didn't (the "audience" shown on the film seemed more like bit part actors in the very glitzy production).

5. Yangguan today
John Man, The Great Wall (Bantam B戊ooks, 2008, p.116), describes the present Yangguan as follows:

(The) whole place has had a makeover, turning a shell of dusty walls into a museum and film studio. (We went) past a mock-up siege engine and Mongol campsite, out to a beacon-tower. The moon was up, lighting a view that explained much that had puzzled me. In Han times, the softly lit plain before me had been a lake, fed by four springs. That was why Yangguan was here, why it had been famous for its wild swans and fish: fresh water. For centuries 10,000 people had lived around its shores, protected by the fort and its garrison.... Then the springs had faltered, the lake had shrunk back, people had left. By about AD 900 the fortress had fallen into ruin....A few years ago, people came here, and saw only a ruin. It was sad. So a local businessman...decided to raise money, renovate it, build a museum to remind people of its history, and recoup some of his expenses from film companies and visitors....

As described by Man, the wall here was originally a series of whitewashed watch-towers connected by earthen ramparts. For our purposes it would be interesting to know what image Wang Wei might have had of Yangguan itself. Unfortunately, Man does not say anything about the source of his information that Yangguan was once famous for wild swans and fish. As for the exact location of the old lake and town, in June 2009 I found the nearby Yangguan Museum through a Google map search for "陽關博物館" (Yangguan Bowuguan). There is also some further information available online, but from the online images (see, e.g., China Fact Tours and Cultural China) it is difficult to know what connection the exterior architecture there today has with anything that might have been there during the Tang dynasty. The Google map satellite view seems to suggest there are dams bringing a green swath to this area, but this is not evident from online photos.

6. Places from Chang'an to Yangguan mentioned in the Zheyin Shizi Qinpu lyrics
Places specifically named include:

  1. 長安 Chang'an (Wiki)
    The walls surrounding the center of the modern city of 西安 Xi'an (Wiki) were built on the walls of Tang dynasty Chang'an, but today Chang'an is the name of a southern district of the modern city.
  2. 渭城 Weicheng (Wiki; in 陝西 Shaanxi province)
    Weicheng was once a river port for Chang'an, on the 渭河 Wei River about 25 km west northwest of the old walled city. Today a virtual suburb of Xi'an, it is administratively a district in southeast 咸陽 Xianyang county (Wiki), around the Xianyang Musuem.
  3. 吳山 Wushan (Wu Mountains; no connection to 吳 Wu district around Suzhou)
    From available maps it is difficult to say what the extent is of the mountain range in Shaanxi called "Wushan", but in historical times perhaps this referred to the mountains on the Wei River as it came out of the gorge about 200 km upstream from Xi'an, just west of Baoji (
    Wiki). Today there is a 吳山森林公園 Wushan Forest Park about 50 km northwest of Baoji, but it is not on the river. Travelers then followed the Wei River another 100 km or so to 天水 Tianshui (Wiki) in Gansu, then perhaps past 武山 Wushan and 渭源 Weiyuan ("Source of the Wei") on the way to Shatou.
  4. 梁州 Liangzhou (not 涼州 Liangzhou)
    15135.66 first says it was one of the 九州 nine provinces into which
    Yu the Great divided China; this Liangzhou is generally thought to have been in Henan (Wiki). The entry then describes a Liangzhou district that has included areas of southwest Shaanxi as well as northern Sichuan. The Tang map in my Historical Atlas places it upriver from Xi'an, towards or in the Wu mountains (see previous). Poetic references often seem to be to such a western Liangzhou, suggesting it was indeed in a western or northwestern border region. The following, usually included among the famous 300 Tang Poems, is one example:

    張喬 Zhang Qiao, 書邊事 Writing about Border Affairs

    調角斷清秋, 征人倚戍樓。
    春風對青塚, 白日落梁州。
    大漠無兵阻, 窮邊有客遊。
    蕃情似此水, 長願向南流。

    Bugle sounds pierce the clear autumn air; Soldiers relax in a garrison tower.
    Spring winds confront green graves; A pale sun sets over Liangzhou.
    On the vast desert there are no opposing troops; So in the exhausted borderlands there are again travelers.
    (But northern) foreigners have inclinations like those of water, Always wishing to flow southwards.

    The "Liangzhou" in the present lyrics is thus most likely another reference to the western hinterlands into which the friend is traveling.
  5. 安西 Anxi (a military region west of Yangguan [Wiki])
    7221.83 安西 gives four entries, the final one saying to see .84, the 安西都護府 Anxi Protectorate, "唐代六都護府之一 one of the six such protectorates during the Tang dynasty". This Anxi Protectorate, in what is today the Xinjiang SAR, was further subdivided into four garrisons (安西四鎮), at Kucha, Khotan, Kashgar and Karashahr. Hundreds of miles west of Yangguan (presumably the destination could have been anywhere within the protectorate), these protectorates were established by Tang emperors in the mid 7th century.
    (There is also a town named Anxi in 酒泉 Jiuquan prefecture [Wiki], Gansu province. Modern maps locate this near 瓜州城 Guazhou city, about 120 km northeast of 敦煌 Dunhuang. "Going west through Yangguan" thus suggests that the military district was the more likely destination.)
  6. 陽關 Yangguan
    Yangguan was a pass in the Great Wall west of Dunhuang. One can find a Yangguan Museum on Google maps about 50 km southwest of Dunhuang.

Other places mentioned are listed in another footnote below.

7. Original Wang Wei lyrics for Weicheng Tune, Seeing Yuan Er off to Anxi
The original lyrics of the poem 渭城曲,送元二出便安西 are,


These lyrics were included in Yuefu Shiji, Folio 80. And Su Dongpo (see above) once wrote 陽關詞 三首 Three Poems on Yangguan Lyrics following this form.

8. Other poems quoted in the Zheyin Shizi Qinpu lyrics
These poems include:

  1. Li Bai, 黃鶴樓送孟浩然之廣陵, "At Yellow Crane Tower seeing Meng Haoran off to Guangling"
    In addition to the Yellow Crane Tower, Verse 3 of the Zheyin lyrics also mentions the "animation of spring" and "going down to Yangzhou".

    故人西辭黃鶴樓, An old friend here in the west says farewell at Yellow Crane Tower,
    煙花三月下揚州。 For the animation of spring in the third month he is going down to Yangzhou.
    孤帆遠影碧空盡, A lonely sail is a far off shadow in the far blue emptiness,
    唯見長江天際流。 All one can see is the Yangzi River flowing to the edge of the world.

  2. Zhang Kejiu: [Zhegui Ling] Farewell at Xiling (張可久:[拆掛令]西陵送別)
    Zhang Kejiu (1270-1348) was known for his Yuan dynasty sanqu. The Zheyin lyrics also mention "cannot begin to record parting miseries", Xiling and Dongzhou (
    Verse 2), plus "controlling farewells...like waving willows as they waft" (Verse 3) and "tides come" (Verse 5). Zhang's full poem (thanks to Stephanie Chin [錢屬賢 Qian Shuxian] for her translation help) is as follows:

    A small decorated boat cannot carry such heavy parting miseries.
    People going to Xiling fill Dongzhou with sorrow,
    Loath to saddle up to return, lethargically opening teary eyes, averse to leaning on the railing of a tall tower.
    Springs come and go; controlling farewells would be like waving willows as they waft down to the shore.
    Tides come and go, meeting naively drifting seagulls.
    The hazy waters are boundless, but words bound our mutual toasts, and I don't know how to ask you to stay.

  3. Zhou Deqing: [Yue Diao, Liuying Qu] Parting from a Friend (周德清:[越調·柳營曲]別友) 
    Zhou Deqing (1277? - 1365?) is perhaps best known for his 中原音韻 Central Plains Songs and Rhymes (
    Wiki). This poem seems to concern a friend going to take the civil service exams after the Yuan finally reinstated them in 1315. As for relevant references, Section 8 of the Zheyin lyrics mentions 東君 dongjun, 一葉身 yi ye shen, 桃李侯門 taoli houmen and 挑雲 tiaoyun. Zhou's poem (not yet translated) is as follows:

    An insignificant person, hair half white: honor and rank could evoke strong feelings not yet expressed.
    Night rain essays....

Quite likely there are other farewell poems that are of significance here.

9. Other places mentioned in the Zheyin Shizi Qinpu lyrics
Most of these places can still be found on modern maps. Some may be intended as generally descriptive terms rather than specific place names. Their connection to the Wang Wei poem seems to lie in their being mentioned in other farewell poems.

  1. 黃鶴樓 Yellow Crane Tower (Huang He Lou (Wiki; see also the Li Bai poem)
    48904.1341; the Yellow Crane Tower in Wuchang, now part of modern Wuhan city, was originally built in the 3rd century, but had to be re-built many times, most recently in 1986 (in Qing dynasty style).
  2. 揚州 Yangzhou (Wiki)
    In Jiangsu; noted for its beautiful flowers in spring; see Li Bai poem in previous footnote.
  3. 楚水 Chu River
    15473.14 rivers in Chu; a river in 陝西 Shaanxi
  4. 金陵 Jinling
    An old name for Nanjing (
  5. 彭城 Pengcheng
    10231.87 towns and areas in 江蘇 Jiangsu, 湖南 Hunan and 河南 Henan. Best known, and probably intended here, is the one in Jiangsu, aka 徐州 Xuzhou. This was the home of
    Su Shi, who wrote a number of farewell poems that mention Pengcheng (as well as 彭祖 Pengzu, after whom the city was named).
The following footnote includes some expressions that could refer to specific places but do not seem to do so here.

10. Terms mentioned here that could be place names but here do not seem to be
These include:

  1. 沙頭 Shatou (but here "sandbank")
    5/960 沙頭 says 沙灘邊;沙洲邊 shatou means "edge of a sandy beach" or "edge of a sandbank", and its use as the title for Section 1 as well as lyrics in Section 4 both suggest that shatou is referring to the place on the Wei River where the departing friend is boarding his boat. However, it could also be the name of a town on the route west. 17570.212/2-3 沙頭 says that in the Han dynasty Shatou was a district in 酒泉郡 Jiuquan Commandery, which included
    Anxi (the town, not the military district). It might thus be the same as 17570.38 沙州 Shazhou, also described as a district near Dunhuang. If so it is about 100 km east of Anxi town. However, although this seems to be the most likely place, 17570.221 沙縣 Shaxian (Sha County) is perhaps another possibility in Gansu; the modern name is 洮沙 Taosha and it is on the 洮河 Taohe River. If one were to follow the Wei River to near Weiyuan, one could then go overland to the nearby Taohe River near Taosha and follow it north to where it joins the Yellow River, by the modern 劉家峽大壩 Liujiaxia Dam (Wiki). From here one could then follow the Great Wall westerward through Dunhuang and Yangguan, then continue west to the Anxi military district. This generally seems to have been a common route used in those days. (There are other 沙頭 Shatou, e.g., in Hubei and Guangdong, but these do not seem relevant.
  2. 西陵 Xiling (but here "western hills"? See in Feng Ru Song Ge and a poem by Zhang Kejiu)
    35587.473 ancestral home of Yellow Emperor's wife, perhaps in Henan; grave in Henan of 魏武帝 Wei emperor Wu (陵 ling means "mound" or "tomb"); region in Hubei. In the lyrics here it could logically be contrasting a western area to which the writer is going with the eastern region (see next), where his heart lies.
  3. 東州 Dongzhou (but here "eastern regions"?)
    14827.111 another name for 朿州 Cizhou, near 瀛洲 Yingzhou (Beijing area). As with Xiling it may not be used here as a place name, instead meaning simply "eastern regions", as in 4/829 東州兵 and 東州逸黨.

Note that the translations here of these is still tentative; the latter two in particular could still suggest place names.

11. Some other expressions used in the Zheyin Shizi Qinpu lyrics
These are listed here in order of their first mention.

  1. magnolia boat (木蘭舟 mulan zhou); 14750.390 木蘭舟 gives as its earliest reference a story from 述異記 Shuyi Ji about 魯班 Lu Ban (legendary master carpenter of the Spring and Autumn period) making one; because of this a beautifully made boat would be called a "magnolia boat". Such a boat is also mentioned in the farewell poem by 柳永 Liu Yong (987 - 1053) included above, Parting at the Station Post (長亭送別 Changting Songbie [To the tune 雨霖鈴 Yulin Ling]).
  2. animation of spring (煙花三月 yanhua sanyue); "yanhua" can also refer to courtesans.
  3. station post (長亭 changting); see 42022.292 長亭 as well as the previous entry and the Liu Yong poem above; perhaps the first one was at Weicheng.
  4. turquoise feather garment; 鷫鸘裘 (鸘 = 鷞). 48302.3 鷫鷞裘 (sushuang qiu) says it was a garment made from feathers of a turquoise kingfisher; it then quotes 西京雜記 Xiling Zaji saying that when Sima Xiangru and Zhuo Wenjun first came to Chengdu they lived in such poverty that Wenjun traded her turquoise feather garment for some wine; after this they opened a wine shop.
  5. beautiful tower (畫樓 (hualou); 7/1379 畫樓 says it is a 雕飾華麗的樓房 tower with beautiful carvings on it (compare 畫船 a gaily decorated boat).
  6. short distance post; 24524.55 短亭 (duanting), a rest pavilion 5 miles out of town.
  7. post road (驛路 yilu); see 46012.48 驛路 .
  8. sand bank (汀洲 tingzhou); 17488.8 汀洲 is a sandbank or island; 17488.2 汀州 is a place in Fujian.
  9. at dawn (漏曉 louxiao); 18508.xxx, but 18508.21 漏夜 (louye) is "deep at night".
  10. the master (東君 dongjun); 14827.149 東君 gives several options: "master" plus some immortals such as a spring deity (the Lord of Spring) see also here and here.
  11. disciples at a grand gateway (桃李侯門 tao li houmen); this phrase literally means "peach plum noble's gate", sounding perhaps as though it could be a proper name, but 15099.29 桃李 (taoli) "peaches and plums" actually refers to one's students (as well as to female beauty); 667.57 侯門 (houmen; not 候門 back gate) refers to homes of the nobility. (See also earlier.)
  12. an insignificant person (一葉身 yi ye shen); 1.2812ff have various expressions with 一葉 (one leaf; a small boat, etc.), but no 一葉身 yi ye shen; likewise with 1/82. However, 9/455-8 says 葉 is a 量詞 classifier for 輕博物體 insignificant objects. (See also earlier.)
  13. sanjing: hermit's abode, lit. "three paths" (三徑 sanjing); 10.1299 (see also 1/223 三徑 san jing [also 三逕]) says "本指松菊三小徑,以喩隱士所居 originally refers to three small paths through the pines and chrysanthemums, then used to signify the abode of a recluse". It gives as its earliest reference 三輔決錄 Sanfu Juelu by 漢 趙岐 Zhao Qi of Han (108-201; CK), where the three paths are in a bamboo grove. However, the popularity of "three paths" meaning "abode of a recluse" probably comes from the second reference, its mention in Tao Yuanming's Gui Qu Lai Ci, where the path is through pines and chrysanthemums.

See also the previous footnote.

12. Antiquity of the Yangguan melodies
On several occasions I have played these early versions (<1491 and 1530; occasionally 1511) for people and asked whether they considered them related. Generally people without any knowledge of the melodies have emphasized the similarity; those familiar with the modern version (similar to the 1530 version and very popular, whereas very few people have listened to the other versionsya) have emphasized the differences.

13. Tracing qin versions of Yang Guan
See the appendix below.

14. Various titles for melodies connected to the Wang Wei lyrics
All of these do not have lyrics, but the melodies are more or less related and could be paired to the lyrics. They include:

  1. 陽關三疊 Yangguan Sandie
  2. 陽關操 Yangguan Cao
  3. 大陽關 Da Yangguan
  4. 秋江送別 Qiujiang Songbie (Autumn River Parting)
  5. 春江送別 Chunjiang Songbie (Spring River Parting)

These are all mentioned in the appendix below.

15. 琴學入門 Qinxue Rumen version
There are several recordings based on this version. It is quite rare for the lyrics to be sung. See further comments on this under the short version.

16. 琴心三疊 Qin Xin Sandie
See QSDQ, Chapter 17 and a Li Bai poem. For qin xin see under Sima Xiangru.

17. Reconstructing the missing ending of Yang Guan San Die
Although the last page of Zheyin Shizi Qinpu is missing, the ending of this melody can be reconstructed with some confidence that it is faithful to the original. Thus, the lyrics of the version in 樂仙琴譜 Lexian Qinpu (1623) are almost identical to those here, so they are here used here for the missing section. In addition, the music for the first 4/6ths of Section 8 is almost the same as that of the first 4/6ths of Section 5 after the harmonic opening, so the last 2/6ths of Section 5 are used for the missing part of Section 8; the 1623 lyrics match this perfectly. For the postlude the music is taken from the postlude to Yangguan Cao in 真傳正宗琴譜 Zhenchuan Zhengzong Qinpu (1589). It could also be taken from the 1623 coda, which differs only in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th notes.

18. Original Preface
The original Chinese preface can be seen under 陽關三疊.

19. Yangguan Sandie section titles and lyrics (original Chinese and my tentative translation)
Sections 2 through 8 have new lyrics, all ending with the same refrain ("From the Wu Mountains' lofty heights...."). Section 1 has the original Wang Wei lyrics.

Note, however, the insertion in the fourth line of the meaningless words "的那 of those/that". In Zheyin Shizi Qinpu, as in most Ming dynasty handbooks with lyrics, the pairing of music and lyrics is mostly syllabic, with one character for each right hand stroke; however, it was common to insert phrases such as "的那 of those/that" or the equally meaningless "你那 your that" as pairs for the left hand stroke technique 對起 duiqi. Also, where a finger pattern is repeated (再作 "do again"), there usually is no indication of whether the paired phrase should also be sung again. Such passages are indicated below by empty phrases (i.e.: ",," or ",。"). This, plus the very literary but somewhat casual nature of the original lyrics, makes smooth translation problematic. (For more on such problems see the footnote on pairing, plus the four footnotes after it that refer to various inconsistencies in pairing.)

Yangguan Sandie from Zheyin Shizi Qinpu: lyrics with the music
Use the timings below as a guideline while you
聽我的錄音 listen to my recording
00.00 1. 沙頭過雨   Rain at the edge of the sandbank

Wei Cheng zhao yu yi qing chen.
The morning rain at Weicheng dampens the light dust.

Ke she qing qing liu se xin.
At the inn the lush green color of the willows is renewed.

Quan jun geng jin yi bei jiu.
This moves the gentlemen again to offer up a cup of wine.

Xi chu Yang Guan (de na) wu gu ren.   .
Going west through Yangguan there will be no (of those) old acquaintances.   .

00.28 2. 木蘭舟   Releasing the magnolia boat

Mu lan zhou, , zai bu qi xu duo (de) li chou.
Magnolia boat, , one cannot begin to record so many (of) parting miseries.

Ren zai (ni na) xi ling, xin zai dong zhou, xin zai dong zhou.
People may be in the (your that) western hills, (but their) hearts are in the eastern regions, eastern regions.

Wu Shan gao song shui dong liu; dong liu, dongliu, fu dong liu.
From the Wu Mountains' lofty heights waters flow east; flow east, flow east, again flow east.

00.59 3. 黃鶴樓   Saying farewell (as at) Yellow Crane Tower

Huang He Lou, , yan hua san yue (de na) xia Yang Zhou.
Yellow Crane Tower, , the animation of spring in the third month so (of that) going down to Yangzhou.

Mu lan zhou, , zai bu qi xu duo (de) li chou.
Magnolia boat, , one cannot begin to record so many (of) parting miseries.

Guan song bie (na) chang ting, yi yi liu.
Controlling farewells at that station post: it would be like waving willows as they waft down.

Wu Shan gao song shui dong liu; dong liu, dongliu, fu dong liu.
From the Wu Mountains' lofty heights waters flow east; flow east, flow east, again flow east.

01.37 4. 迢遙去路   Going on a distant road

Lu tiao tiao, , zun jiu (de na) jin sha tou.
The road is distant, , these goblets of wine (of those) must be finished here on the sandbank.

(泛起 Harmonics begin)
Shang huai bao, jiang sheng ri ye rao mu tao.
Distressing emotional embraces, river sounds day and night stir up evening waves.
(泛止 Harmonics end)

Su shuang qiu, , dao chu (de na) chong ao you.
In a turquoise feather garment, everywhere (of that) repeatedly roaming.

Liang hua fu, , da jiang xie bu jin (na) li chou.
Foam waters floating, , the great river purges (those) parting miseries.

Qing yan yan (na) hua lou.
Light haze covers (that) beautiful tower.

Yang liu xi qiao, yi ye bian zhou, ming yue Liang Zhou, Liang Zhou.
Poplars and willows by the stream's bridge, evening rain on a boat, (but) a clear moon over Liangzhou, Liangzhou.

Wu Shan gao song shui dong liu; dong liu, dongliu, fu dong liu.
From the Wu Mountains' lofty heights waters flow east; flow east, flow east, again flow east.

02.37 5. 恨逐來潮   Sorrow comes and goes like the tide

(泛起 Harmonics begin)
Yue xia chao sheng hong lao ting,
Under the moon the tide reveals red smartweed on the sandbank,

      Liu shao feng ji duo liu ying.
      willows in a light breeze anxiously settle over drifting fireflies.

Chang ting duan ting, xi bie ding ning,
At long and short distance station posts, regrets at parting come repeatedly,

      wu tong ye yu, hen bu tong ting.
      wutong trees in the night rain: hatred at not hearing this together.
(泛止 Harmonics end)

Wei gong ming, , you ting yi lu piao ling,
For honor, , but courier lodges on the post road have fallen into ruin,

      man qiao jin deng chuang li qing.
      slowly hit the golden stirrups (having) sad departure emotions.

Ting chang "Yang Guan" (na) qu si sheng, bie li qing, .
Hearing singing of Yang Guan (that) song's sounds, makes departure seem lighter, .

Wu Shan, Chu Shui, zong ji fu ping.
Wu Mountain, Chu River, footsteps are drifting.

Chang An hui shou ren gu ling, gu ling, .
To Chang'an turning my head, I feel lonely, lonely, .

Yun shan wei si mo, bie lu zhuan gu cheng.
Clouded mountains surrounded by desert on four sides, the departure road turns into a lonely city.

Zhao ye guo, yi qing chen, chang Wei Cheng liu se qing.
The morning rain has gone, dampening the light dust; sing of Weicheng willow colors green.

Wu Shan gao song shui dong liu; dong liu, dongliu, fu dong liu.
From the Wu Mountains' lofty heights waters flow east; flow east, flow east, again flow east.

03.59 6. 風吹楊柳   Wind blows in the poplars and willows

(泛起 Harmonics begin)
Fang cao du tou chu yu guo, lu yang zhi shang hao feng qing.
Fragrant grasses by the boat launch as the first rains pass, green poplar branches enjoy clear breezes.

Lu yang fang cao, qian wan li qing.   .
Green poplars and fragrant grasses pull out the departing's sadness.   .
(泛止 Harmonics end)

Chang duan ting, , zai jiu (de na) song jun xing.
Long and short distance station posts, , recording wine (of that) for seeing off the gentleman traveling.

Jing qing ming, , he feng li ri, nao (na) yan ying.
Landscape clear and bright, , peaceful breezes on a beautiful day, noise of (those) swallows and orioles.

Yun shan (na) wan li, he ri gui cheng? He ri gui cheng?
Clouded mountains for (those) 10,000 li, on what day a return jouney? On what day a return jouney?

Wu Shan gao song shui dong liu; dong liu, dongliu, fu dong liu.
From the Wu Mountains' lofty heights waters flow east; flow east, flow east, again flow east.

04.58 7. 月照汀洲   The moon shines on the sandbank

Yue ming ming, , lou xiao (de na) li sha ting.
The moon is very bright, , at dawn (of that) on an emerging sandbank.

Song jun bie, , wu xian li qing, wo shou du men.
Seeing off the gentleman departing, , limitless departing feelings, grasping hands at the capital gate.

Hui shou (ni na) Jin Ling, (na) Jin Ling.
Turning head to (your that) Jinling (Nanjing!), (that) Jinling.

Wu Shan gao song shui dong liu; dong liu, dongliu, fu dong liu.
From the Wu Mountains' lofty heights waters flow east; flow east, flow east, again flow east.

05.35 8. 叮嚀會合   Repeatedly urging (the parting friend) to return

Zai ding ning, gu ren qing, guan jiao lun jiao song bai,
Again repeatedly urging, because of human emotions, youth making friends with their seniors,

      shi meng, shi meng, li dong jun.
      promises, promises, parting from the master.

Tao li hou men, yang liu Peng Cheng, yi ye shen, .
Disciples at a grand gateway; poplars and willows at Pengcheng; an insignificant person, .

Jiu chuan diao yue, shi dan tiao yun,
A wine boat rowed in the moon, poetry shouldered while leaping the clouds,

      ling ling qing qing, (na) ling qing, , .
      Cold and clear (i.e., quiet and still), (that) cold clear, , .

Xi shan lie hua ping, an ma qiu feng leng.
Western mountains arrayed as a painted screen, a saddled horse in a cold autumn wind.

(Missing from here): 06.26

      (Gong ming shi ku piao ling, he ri xi gui san jing?
      (Affairs of honor bitterly fallen to ruin; when, ah, will I return to my hermit's abode?

      Wu Shan gao song shui dong liu; dong liu, dong liu, fu dong liu.
      From the Wu Mountains' lofty heights waters flow east; flow east, flow east, again flow east.

06.45   尾聲 泛音 Coda: Harmonics
      Ta xiang gu guo, kan ming yue.
      In another countryside old country, see the bright moon.

      Qi qi qie qie, hui shao li duo. Hua can yue que.
      In great pain and urgency, together seldom, apart often. Flowers are spoiled, moon waned.

07.04   曲終 Piece ends

N.B.: The last page of Zheyin Shizi Qinpu is missing, so the last two lines of Section 8 and the lyrics of the Coda have been completed by comparing the version published in 1623. See comment above.

Return to the Zheyin Shizi Qinpu index or to the Guqin ToC.

Appendix: Chart Tracing 陽關三疊 Yang Guan Sandie
  Based mainly on Zha Fuxi's
Guide, 12/124/222 Yangguan Sandie and 14/149/258 陽關曲 Yangguan Qu,
  but also see 31/241/457 Chunjiang Songbie and 26/217/416 秋江送別 Qiujiang Songbie.

  (year; QQJC Vol/page)
# of
Further information
(QQJC = 琴曲集成 Qinqu Jicheng; QF = 琴府 Qin Fu)
  1. 浙音釋字琴譜
    (<1491; I/267 [more])
陽關三疊 Yang Guan Sandie; grouped under QL (淒涼 qiliang)
    but tuning is RB (蕤賓 ruibin); see lyrics and compare 1530 below
  2. 謝琳太古遺音
      (1511; I/311 [more])
 1 (?)
陽關曲 Yangguan Qu; tuning not indicated, but must be ruibin
  lyrics are Wang Wei's poem repeated 13 times (this handbook doesn't divide melodies into sections)
3a. 發明琴譜
      (1530; I/379)
RB !
陽關 Yang Guan; tuning is called "qiliang...raise the 2nd and 5th strings",
  but the 2nd string is stopped at 10th hui, not 11th. Lyrics like <1491 except refrain.
3b. 發明琴譜
      (1530; I/391 [more])
QL !
  陽關三疊 Yang Guan Sandie; like mod. version, but tuning raises 2nd & 5th strings;
  after the 1st note, stop 2nd string at 11th hui (shorter lyrics)
  4. 風宣玄品
      (1539; II/328)
陽關 Yang Guan; quite different from earlier long versions
  5. 龍湖琴譜
      (1571; 琴府/275)
 陽關 Yang Guan; lyrics like 1585 except coda
6a. 新刊正文對音捷要
      (1573; Fac.#66)
春江送別 Chunjiang Songbie
 compare 1585 Qiujiang Songbie
6b. 新刊正文對音捷要
      (1573; Fac.#67)
陽關三疊 Yangguan Sandie
 identical to 1585?
  7. 五音琴譜
      (1579; IV/250)
陽關 Yang Guan; no lyrics!
 ToC: "大陽關 Da Yangguan"
8a. 重修真傳琴譜
      (1585; IV/502)
秋江送別 Qiujiang Songbie
 compare 1573 Chunjiang Songbie! Grouped under QL
8b. 重修真傳琴譜
      (1585; IV/505)
陽關三疊 Yangguan Sandie; grouped under QL;
Related to 1530 but quite different 
9a. 真傳正宗琴譜
      (1589; VII/145)
陽關操 Yangguan Cao
 lyrics like #1, but another different refrain
9b. 真傳正宗琴譜
      (1609; VII/148)
陽關三疊 Yangguan Sandie
10. 文會堂琴譜
      (1596; VI/263)
陽關 Yang Guan
11. 陽春堂琴譜
      (1611; VII/471)
陽關三疊 Yangguan Sandie
 lyrics like 1589
12a. 理性元雅
      (1618; VIII/294)
陽關三疊 Yangguan Sandie
12b. 理性元雅
      (1618; VIII/295)
春江送別 Chunjiang Songbie
 lyrics like 1585
13. 樂仙琴譜
      (1623; VIII/384)
陽關三疊 Yangguan Sandie
 lyrics like <1491
14. 太音希聲
      (1625; IX/241)
春江送別 Chunjiang Songbie
 tablature says tuning is QL; lyrics like 1585
15. 古音正宗
      (1634; IX/317)
陽關三疊 Yangguan Sandie
16. 和文注音琴譜
      (<1676; XII/252)
陽關曲 Yangguan Qu
 very short: Wang Wei poem just once
17. 立雪齋琴譜
      (1730; XVIII/31)
陽關 Yang Guan
 lyrics like <1491 for first 8 sections, then 1, 2 and 3 die
18a. 琴書千古
      (1738; XV/378)
 陽關三疊 Yangguan Sandie;
First page seems to be missing
18b. 琴書千古
      (1738; XV/439)
春江送別 Chunjiang Songbie
19. 桐園草堂
     (>1800; XVIII/364)
陽關操 Yangguan Cao
20a. 裛露軒琴譜
      (>1802; XIX/189)
陽關操 Yangguan Cao
No lyrics; "Taigu Yiyin"
20b. 裛露軒琴譜
      (>1802; XIX/191)
陽關三疊 Yangguan Sandie
No lyrics; "Taigu Yiyin"
20. 琴學軔端
      (1828; XX/473)
陽關三疊 Yangguan Sandie
 lyrics like <1491 but breaks up sections
21. 張鞠田琴譜
      (1844; XXIII/217)
陽關曲 Yang Guan Qu
 melody from 昆曲 Kunqu? has 工尺譜 gongche notation
22. 琴學入門
      (1864; XXIV/314)
  (Also 琴府/615) 陽關三疊 Yangguan Sandie; "無射均商音 Wuyi Jun Shang Yin" (see comments). This is the common version today, though few sing its lyrics, which were placed at the end. Thought to come from the Zhu family.
23. 青箱齋琴譜
      (~1866; XXIV/394)
陽關三疊 Yangguan Sandie
 old lyrics
24. 希韶閣琴譜
      (1878; XXVI/349)
陽關三疊 Yangguan Sandie; lyrics at end of each section;
lyrics at first like <1491 but changes (combines?) S6 & S7
25. 雙琴書屋琴譜集成
      (1884; XXVII/289)
陽關三疊 Yangguan Sandie
 "also called Chunjiang Songbie; "lyrics like 1609"
26. 綠綺清韻
      (1884; XXVII/406)
陽關三疊 Yangguan Sandie
27. 友石山房琴譜
      (1887; XXVII/435)
陽關三疊 Yangguan Sandie
"From 1864" but no lyrics
28. 希韶閣琴瑟合譜
      (1890; XXVI/439)
陽關三疊 Yangguan Sandie; only se part?
 Includes Wang Wei lyrics, but quite different
29. 琴學初津
      (1894; XXVIII/375)
陽關三疊 Yangguan Sandie; lyrics;
 "also called Chunjiang Songbie
30. 琴學叢書
      (1910; XXX/249)
陽關三疊 Yangguan Sandie
also 琴府/1021; "from 1864", with rhythmic indication
31. 琴學摘要
      (~1920?; XXIX/181)
陽關三疊 Yangguan Sandie
like 1864; no lyrics
32. 山西育才館雅樂
    講義; (1922; missing)
陽關三疊 Yangguan Sandie
 "like 1864"
33. 夏一峰傳譜
陽關三疊 Yangguan Sandie
34a. 研易習琴齋琴譜
陽關三疊 Yangguan Sandie; tuning is called 中呂均商音 zhonglü jun shang yin
 very different from the common melody; source is not given
34b. 研易習琴齋琴譜
陽關三疊 Yangguan Sandie
 tuning is called 無射均商音 Wuyi Jun Shang Yin, "tighten 5th string"
35. 愔愔室琴譜
陽關三疊 Yangguan Sandie
36. 虞山吳氏琴譜
陽關三疊 Yangguan Sandie

Return to text above, to the Zheyin Shizi Qinpu ToC or to the Guqin ToC.