Gu Jiao Xing (1539)
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45. Engaging Old Friends (1539)
- Shang mode, standard tuning: 2 5 6 1 2 3 5 6, but played as 1 2 4 5 6 1 2
古交行 1
Gujiao Xing
Commentary on this melody (and its variations) has largely been moved to accompany
the version published in Xilutang Qintong (1525), that being the earliest known surviving tablature.4 In all, versions of the title, which could also be translated as The Actions of Old-Style Relations, or Old-Style Relations Melody,5 survive in at least 21 handbooks from 1525 to 1876 (see the chart under the 1525 version commentary. In addition, two of these handbooks have a related version of the same melody but call it Cloud Bamboo Couch (Yun Zhu Ta).6 The number and variety of mid-Ming occurrences of the melody suggest it was played quite actively during that period.

Fengxuan Xuanpin does not pair short melodies with long ones of the same theme. If it did, #49 Kai Gu would make a good prelude. However, in later handbooks Gujiao Xing is paired with a short melody variously called Glue and Lacquer Intonation (Jiao Qi Yin) or Cutting Through Metal Intonation (Duan Jin Yin).7

Fengxuan Xuanpin also does not have any commentary with its melodies. If desired one can choose between the Guanzi and Wen Zhongzi stories outlined with the 1525 version.

Original preface

Music of Gujiao Xing (Engaging Old Friends; 1539)
10 sections (untitled; see
transcription; timings are from my recording: 聽錄音 listen) 9
Compare this 1539 version with the 1525 version I subsequently reconsructed and recorded.

00.00   1
00.54   2 (harmonics)
01.26   3
02.44   4 (harmonics)
03.46   5
04.26   6
05.19   7 (the lyrics sung in the recording are from 1525, as follows [comment]):

古交如真金,百鍊色不回。 Gu jiao ru zhen jin, bai lian se bu hui.
Old relations are like true gold, in 100 smeltings the color does not get lost.
今交如暴流,倏忽生塵埃。 Jin jiao ru bao liu, shu hu sheng chen ai.
New relations can be like a flash flood, suddenly they give rise to dirt.
06.23   8 (harmonics)
06.46   9
07.20  10
07.51  Closing harmonics
08.05  End

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Engaging with Old Friends (古交行 Gujiao Xing)
3/xxx; 3308.105 古交 Gujiao gives only a place name (see Different translations). Note that 故交 13466.39 and 5/430 gu jiao have several quotes concerning old friendships, but have nothing that might connect this to the present melody.

2. Shang mode (商調 shang diao)
For more on shang mode see Shenpin Shang Yi.

4. Earliest edition
I always try to learn the earliest known version of any particular melody, and at the time I reconstructed this one it was thought to be the earliest; for re-dating the Xiltutang Qintong version see further.

5. Different translations of the title
Such translations depend mainly on the interpretation of 行, here xing but also hang 34850甲33/34: 曲引、歌行. Note also that 3308.105 古交 Gujiao has only that it is an old name for 交城 Jiaocheng, a prefecture southwest of Taiyuan in central 山西 Shanxi province. Gujiao Xing could thus also be translated as Traveling in Gujiao. However, there is no apparent connection between that region and this melody. Zhu Houjiao, the compiler of Fengxuan Xuanpin, was a prince for an area southeast of the Songshan mountain range in Henan Province.

6. Cloud Bamboo Couch (雲竹榻 Yun Zhu Ta)
See the introduction under the 1525 version

7. Glue and Lacquer Intonation (膠漆吟 Jiao Qi Yin) (also called 斷金吟 Duan Jin Yin)
Introduced under the 1525 version

8. Preface
For the Guanzi story see the afterword in 1525; for Wenzhongzi see the preface in 1552. As for whether one is more "correct", as with poetry ambiguity should be a strength rather than a weakness.

9. Lyrics
The lyrics sung above have been added from the similar passage in the 1525 version of this melody. A more complete version of the poem is also given on that page. The way the lyrics fit here (compare there) suggests that these lyrics (or perhaps other lyrics with the same structure) were originally paired to an earlier version than the present one, perhaps 1525 or perhaps an unknown but even earlier version.

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