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89. Melody for Expressing Emotion
- Ruibin mode:2 2 3 5 8 1 2 3
寄情操 1
Ji Qing Cao
  Relying on qin to express one's emotions 3  
As the references below show, the expression "ji qing" was often used for expressing emotions through music, thus suggesting that the title here quite likely refers to expressing emotions through playing the qin.4 However, the emotions covered in the poetic references are quite varied, and the version of the melody published here in 1539 has no commentary, so the actual emotions to be expressed are largely up to the player, though perhaps within limits. The structure of the melody is rather loose,5 and this also reinforces the fact that the player can determine how expressive it will of any particular emotion. To some modern ears the tonal centers on la and mi are suggestive of a pentatonic minor mode, hence lending a sad feeling to the melody. However, when I play it I may not realise the mood it is evoking until I am actually playing.

Ji Qing Cao is to be found only here in Fengxuan Xuanpin (1539) and in Buxuxian Qinpu (1556), which also has no commentary.6 The melodies are almost identical, the former seeming to be a rather plain melody with little ornamentation while the latter mainly adds punctuation and left hand ornamentation.7

Poems on this site that connect music with the phrase "expressing emotion" include one by the famous Tang poet Li Bai and one attributed to a Ming dynasty qin player and artist named Shen Suqiong.8

Original preface

12 sections (untitled; timings follow 我的錄音 my recording)

00.00     1.
00.00     2.
00.27     3.
00.44     4.
01.05     5.
01.53     6.
02.13     7.
02.34     8.
03.04     9.
04.13   10.
04.46   11.
05.12   12. (harmonic closing)
05.42   End

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Melody for Expressing Emotion (寄情操 Jiqing Cao)
No dictionary entry yet found for 寄情操 Jiqing Cao, but modern Chinese to English dictionary definitions for 寄情 jiqing include, "express one's feelings", "express feelings (through writing, etc), "find a home for one's emotions".

7357.76 寄情 ji qing says "託寄其情壞也 entrust to one's emotions the sending of something", then has references to two poems:

3/1511 says, "寄托感情 entrust ones emotions to something", then has five further references,

Of these, the third and fifth perhaps allude to emotions expressed in music. The third, 「觀翟玉妓」 by the Tang poet 李願 Li Yuan, is also a poem that mentions the se zither:


The fifth, in the chapter 結婚 of the novel 海國英雄記 by late Qing writer 浴日生 Yu Risheng, mentions Wenjun expressing emotions through song. None of these has any references to a melody with jiqing in the title.

Other phrases or expressions relevant to this understanding of 寄情 ji qing include:

The latter in particular could be a definition for 21570.7 琴心 qin xin (see under Sima Xiangru).

2. Ruibin mode (蕤賓調 ruibin diao)
From standard tuning (1 = the relative pitch do) 1 2 4 5 6 1 2 tighten the fifth string one position, giving 1 2 4 5 6 1 2 , but consider this one pitch higher, i.e., 2 3 5 8 1 2 3 . With the open fifth string = do the main tonal centers are la and mi, sometimes changing to do and sol; it might thus be considered as a piece in A minor pentatonic sometimes shifting to (and ending on) C major pentatonic. There are only two non-pentatonic notes (a mistakenly written slide in the middle of Section 3 and the second note of Section 4). Of the 12 sections, 9 end on la, one ends on mi, and one ends on do; however, the harmonic coda forming the last section, after preparing the listener for an ending on la, suddenly switches to a strong ending on sol then do then do over sol.

Further modal information under Shenpin Ruibin Yi mode and Modality in Early Ming Qin Tablature.

3. Image: Relying on qin to express one's emotions
This image can be found online on a number of sites. For example, some such as this one have used it to illustrate their discussion (found verbatim on many sites) of 靠琴寄情 in relation to Kunqu opera. In this regard the opera Purple Hairpin may have a section called 西牆寄情 Xiqiang Jiqing (Expressing Emotion by the West Wall, part of 琴挑 Qin Tiao?).

4. Expressing emotion through playing the qin
An internet search gives numerous results for such expressions as "以琴寄情" and "靠琴寄情", including the image at top. There is further on this in the ji qing footnote.

5. Structure of Ji Qing Cao
Although the phrasing does suggest a number of rhythms, the patterns of the phrasing (or lack thereof) has so far complicated my efforts to feel an overall structure. This could mean that, whereas the tablature of a more structured piece might suggest more specifically that it was a "composition", the tablature here might suggest that it was the transcription of an improvisation, or at least of a melody that did not have a fixed form.

6. Tracing Ji Qing Cao
Zha Guide 17/---/--- :

The two are very similar; the former has 12 sections only because it takes the closing harmonics from Section 11 and numbers them as a separate section.

7. Comparing the two existing versions
Because qin melodies often seem to become more elaborated as they develop it would be easy to assume that the 1539 was older, the 1556 a later development. However, the two publication dates are close enough together that one should also consider the possibility that the less elaborate version was the way the melody was taught while the other transcribed the way it was often played (perhaps by the same person), or that at that time even more versions were being played and these two surviving editions reflect just two of the possibilities. Although I basically follow the 1539 version, I use the punctuation and left hand ornamentation to help me work out rhythms. If when playing I were to add other notes or ornaments (whether consciously or subconsciously) these might cause the rhythms to bend but would probably not fundamentally change them.

8. Other occurrences of "寄情 ji qing" in connection to music
Ji qing is also mentioned in:

More to be added.

9. Music
Recording made in March 2014.

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