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64. Roaming to Gather the True
- "jue mode" ( ! 2 : standard tuning, but seems to be 1 2 4 5 6 1 2)
採真遊 1
Cai Zhen You    
Confucius and Laozi: the Confucian version 3        
The brief introduction in the 1525 handbook that published this melody says only that it is probably an old melody and that its theme is detachment from society. However, from the title it is clear that the melody was inspired by a passage in Chapter 14 (Tian Yun) of the book of Zhuangzi. The passage tells of a discussion of what is True (Zhen) said to have taken place when Confucius met Laozi while in Zhou studying the Rites.4 At the time Zhou, though officially the chief state, was a small and weak kingdom centered around what is today Luoyang in Henan province.5

According to the passage in the Zhuangzi, Confucius had come to ask Laozi about the Dao. The passage has no mention of the qin (compare the image at right from an illustrated life of Confucius, where Confucius has come to see Laozi just for this reason). The relevant part of Laozi's answer might be translated as follows:6

In antiquity sagely people walked the path of benevolence (ren) as though they were just borrowing it for the occasion, and dwelt in righteousness (yi) as though just doing it on request. Thus, they could roam in the emptiness of leisurely wandering, dine in fields of careless simplicity, and stand in unrented gardens. Leisurely wandering is the same as freedom from action (wu wei); careless simplicity is the same as easily finding nourishment; unrented is the same as not making an investment. The ancients called this "roaming to gather what is true" (cai zhen zhi you).7

A closer examination of each of the words in the title will help give a fuller understanding of how this melody is intended to reflect on the purported discussion between Confucius and Laozi.

As for cai zhen, "selecting (or heeding) zhen", this can also have the basic meaning of "following one's natural instincts", but it also came to refer to nurturing one's Dao in order to find immortality.11

Based on the above, a literal translation of cai zhen zhi you could also be something like, "roaming to gather basic nature". In fact, published translations of this term vary considerably, as can be seen in the list below. Perhaps the most remarkable is that of Herbert Giles: "outward visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace" (a sacrament?)!.12

As for the translation given here of the melody Cai Zhen You as "Roaming to Gather the True ", it suggests that there is a purpose for this roaming (for this compare other "roaming" titles). In addition, the title translation also takes into account the use of the word "zhen" in another early qin melody, Yi Zhen, which might be translated as "Nourishing What is True". Although the two melodies do not seem to be melodically or even stylistically related, the concepts in the two melodies are clearly complementary: if one is selecting the path of what is True, or Genuine, then one should be nurturing it.14

As a qin melody title Cai Zhen You can be found in at least one earlier qin melody list,15 but as an actual melody it survives only here in Xilutang Qintong,16 where it has seven sections. Although there seems to be no thematic connection or obvious melodic relationship between Cai Zhen You and the melody that precedes it, the somewhat shorter Lie Nü Yin (five sections), there is some evidence suggesting that they came from the same, perhaps Song dynasty,17 source. For one thing, the two melodies share the same harmonic closing and have some stylistic similarities including their use of the mode.18 In addition, both are on earlier lists of melody titles,19 Then there is the simple fact of their having been placed together at the end of the Xilutang handbook's jue mode melodies (see its ToC), though their modality seems to have more in common with zhi mode.20

There is also a recording by Wang Duo of his reconstruction of this melody.21


Jue Yin (see above). This melody has hardly been transmitted at all to our generation. My examination of what was written in the tablature suggests it conveys the idea of an immortal regarding society with disdain, meanwhile abundantly preserving that (attitude).

Seven sections, untitled (See
my transcription; section timings follow my recording 聽錄音; there is also a video)

00.00   1
01.20   2
02.14   3 (harmonics)
02.59   4
03.50   5 (harmonics)
04.22   6
04.53   7
05.30   harmonic coda
05.50   end

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Cai Zhen You (採真遊 ; III/145)
Originally translated here as "Selecting Reality" (while roaminng through life). For more on this change in translation see this comment, while for more on the meanings of cai, zhen and you see above. As for ZWDCD, neither 12564. nor 6/689 has an entry for 採真 or 採真遊, but 41010.52 and 10/1307 采真 cai zhen both quote the Zhuangzi passage, and the reference here is clearly to the mention of "采真之遊 cai zhen zhi you" in 莊子,天運 the chapter Tian Yun from the book of Zhuangzi. As for other translations of the melody title I have tried shortening it, for example, to "Truth-Seeking Trip", seeking a balance between something memorable and something accurate.

English translations of Zhuangzi consulted here, along with their translations of "天運 Tian Yun" and "采真之遊 cai zhen zhi you" include:

  1. Herbert A. Giles (Wiki), Chuang Tzǔ: Mystic, Moralist, and Social Reformer; London, Bernard Quaritch, 1889. (online?)
      - The Circling Sky
      - the outward visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace (p.183)
  2. James Legge, The Chuang-tzu, 1891 (ctext)
      - The Revolution of Heaven (ctext)
      - Enjoyment that Collects the True (ctext
  3. James Ware, The Sayings Of Chuang Chou, 1963
      - Nature's Cycles
      - (enjoying an) Excursion to Gather God (between section 50 abd 55)
  4. Clae Waltham, Chuang Tzu: Genius of the Absurd (arranged from translation by Legge), 1973
      - The Revolution of Heaven
      - Enjoyment that Collects the True (section 5)
  5. Victor Mair, Wandering the Way, University of Hawaii Press, 1994.
      - Heavenly Revolutions
      - "wandering about to pluck the truth" (p.139)

See also the list of translations in Wiki.

2. Jue Mode? (角調 Jue Diao or 角音 Jue Yin)
Although Cai Zhen You and the melody that precedes it, Lienü Yin, are the last two melodies in the jue mode section of 1525, their main note is the open 4th string, and the secondary note is the open 2nd string, making them more like zhi mode melodies. (Note that this is also true of the Jue Diao in Shilin Guangji, which is very similar to the latter part of Lienü Yin.) In addition, Lienü Yin has a number of non-pentatonic or even diatonic notes, giving it a rather antique (or modern) flavor; this aspect of Cai Zhen You is not yet studied. As for its similar modality, the afterword for Cai Zhen You (see below) begins by specifically identifying the mode as 角音 jue yin; its commentary suggests that it, hence perhaps also Lienü Yin, were copied from old tablature.

3. Image: (Confucius) 問禮老聃 Discusses the Rites with Laozi
The full version of this image is from 孔子聖蹟圖 Traces of the Sage Confucius, an illustrated book of the life of Confucius, originally published ca. 1930 but copying old images. The present illustration, entitled Discussing the Rites with Laozi, is on page 14. Laozi is playing the qin while Confucius listens. Their conversation is, of course, different from that described here from the book of Zhuangzi (which does not mention the discussion about Rites). The discussion about Rites is described in the Shi Ji biography of Laozi. There are a number of other illustrations: see, e.g., an on-line example (#9: 問禮老聃).

4. Confucius meets Laozi
The basic story was quite well known - it is also told in the Shi Ji (Book History) biographies of both Confucius and Laozi, though more briefly. It was appaently also a popular theme in art. However, the story itself is almost certainly apocryphal and there are few details in major sources. Perhaps the story in the Zhuangzi is the longest. The brief accounts of the meeting in the 史記 Shi Ji are as follows:

These two versions do not mention Cai Zhen.

5. Zhou in the 6th century BCE
The ruins of the Eastern Zhou capital, 成周 Chengzhou, are apparently east of the White Horse Temple in modern Luoyang.

6. The original passage in Zhuangzi, Chapter 14, says,


7. See above.

8. Cai 采、採
Regarding dictionary definitions, for "採 cai" Kroll has: 1. pick, pluck, gather. a. cull; select; choose; adopt; extract; exploit. b. collect; cluster; bunch up; assemble. For 采 he has the same but adds variegated in color, lavish, take notice of, pay attention to, heed; also (med.) have good luck in gambling.... One reason I chose "gather" is that it can also mean "understand".

9. Zhen
The definition involving "basic nature" comes from 2/139: "未經人為的東西。指本原、本性等". For zhen DeFrancis, ABC Dictionary, has "true, real, genuine...Dao.>... original character of human beings....". Mathews says, "Used by Buddhists and Taoists somewhat as orthodox Confucians use 誠 (cheng). Spiritual, divine - as one's nature; ethereal; immortal."

10. You (遊 Wander/Roam)
39841 gives a great many meanings for this word; all (other than perhaps an Emperor's travels) seem to suggest pleasure. Although out of a desire to keep the title short I have ot translating this word, this does leave out some imporant facets worthy of consideration. Most provocative, perhaps, is the comment by A. C. Graham that 遊 you is "rather like the 'trip' of psychedelic slang in the 1960s" (Chuang-Tzu, The Inner Chapters, Allen & Unwin, 1981; Chapter 2, Spontaneity).

Thus, "Tripping to Take the True"?

The "遊" (roaming/wandering") melodies indexed in the Zha Guide seem to concern three types of roaming: roaming with a purpose (e.g, to find what is real), roaming to see the world (roaming the universe), and roaming for the feeling of it (carefree roaming/wandering). The ones I have reconstructed are listed as follows:

The Guide also lists a 挾仙遊 Xie Xian You (Embrace Immortal Roaming) that may be an alternate version of Roaming to the Eight Corners but could also be a separate melody.

11. Cai zhen 采真
Need an example for what is written above about searching for immortality.

12. "Outward visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace" ("真 zhen")
This is a traditional definition of the word "sacrament"; see, e.g., Wiki (also, "outward and visible...."), but it is also quite a clever description for "zhen". Presumably Giles avoided the word "sacrament" itself because of its religious connotations. However, my understanding of his usage is based simply on my understanding of the relation between what is "true" or "genuine" (popular translations here for "真 zhen") and what is "real" (the word I was trying to use). “Reality" refers to the way things actually are, something independent of our perceptions. We do not "create our own reality", we "create our own perceptions of reality". The shorter version seems to be more popular today, but does that not reflect an arrogance that says, "Because I, as a human, can never be sure that what I observe is real, therefore nothing is real."? That would be like saying, "道可道非常道 the Dao that can be explained is not the true Dao" means, "If I cannot explain it, then there is no Dao (for anyone, not just me)".

Of course, this observation about "reality" concerns the physical universe, while the Daoist discussions of "真 zhen" do not seem to concern what is "real" but our perceptions of that, making words like "true" and "genuine" more appropriate. In Giles' "outward visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace", the "outward visible" is part of the physical world, but the definition does not bother with whether or not individual perceptions of this world may differ, because the objects are in fact just outward signs for things that are within us: things that we want to be are true and genuine.

14. 頤真 Yi Zhen
For Yi Zhen I have been using two translations, "Nourishing the True" and "Nourishing One's Natural Character" as an alternate translation. Currently I have the latter as the "official" translation but this could change.

15. Early references to Cai Zhen You as a melody
The title 採真遊 Cai Zhen You is #43 in the third section of the Qinyuan Yaolu list; there is no commentary.

16. Tracing Cai Zhen You
Zha Fuxi's Guide also mentions a Cai Zhen; also with one occurrence. Specifically:

  1. 採真遊 Cai Zhen You: 20/186/--.
  2. 采真     Cai Zhen:        40/--/--

The latter piece survives only in 1820 (QQJC XX/204). The mention on p. (189) 147 at well as the tablature itself show that it was melodically unrelated (徵調 zhi mode, lowered 3rd string tuning, 12 sections; the afterword [not copied in Zha] mentions the source in Zhuangzi).

17. Although there is some evidence that Lie Nü Yin may come from a Song dynasty source, it is presumably a coincidence that in the Qinyuan Yaolu list (apparently Yuan dynasty) Cai Zhen You also follows a melody that has a woman in its title, Tian Nü Yuan.

18. See Jue Mode? above.

19. Cai Zhen You in early melody lists
Early mention of Cai Zhen You is discussed above. As for Lienü Yin, it is #56 in the Most Ancient section of the melody list compiled by the Song dynasty's Seng Juyue. It is also #69 in the first section of the Yuan dynasty Qinyuan Yaolu melody list. Cai Zhen You is #43 in the third section of the same list.

20. The introduction here to Lienü Yin points out a similarity between the music of its final section and that of the modal prelude Jue Diao in the Song dynasty publication Shilin Guangji, suggesting perhaps that this version of Lienü Yin might also date from the Song dynasty. From the associations mentioned here, perhaps this suggests Cai Zhen You could have a similar date.

21. The recording by 汪鐸 Wang Duo (see details) omits large segments from the original tablature.

22. The original afterword in Xilutang Qintong says,


The writer's mention of "what was written in the tablature" (lit.: "the tablature method") perhaps suggests that he only had found tablature and had never heard anyone simply play it.

Return to the annotated handbook list or to the Guqin ToC.