Sanjiao Tongsheng
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Sanjiao Tongsheng
Paired Music for Three Religions 1

Sanjiao Tongsheng was compiled by Zhang Dexin2 of Xin'an (New Peace).3 It includes a prelude and three melodies, one for each of China's main religions. I have transcribed and recorded all four:

  1. Mingde Yin (Bright Virtue Prelude; VI/112)
        Lyrics are a commentary by Zhu Xi on the Da Xue (Great Learning); it is a prelude to:
    Kongsheng Jing (Sacred Confucian Annal; VI/112)
        Lyrics are the Da Xue itself
  2. Shitan Zhang (Stanzas of Siddham; VI/114)
        Buddhist incantation and predecessor of Pu An Zhou
  3. Qingjing Jing (Canon of Pure Tranquility; VI/117)
        Lyrics are a Daoist morning lesson

Many qin melodies have Daoist or Confucian themes; specifically Buddhist is quite rare. Also rare, though, are melodies such as these set specifically to religious texts, texts were or might have been recited/chanted as specifically religious expression. Some others include:

  1. Yasheng Cao (Proximate Sage Melody)
    A chant for beginning qin players, honoring Confucius' "favorite disciple"; in many handbooks under differing names
  2. Se Kong Jue (Canon of Form and Emptiness)
    A hymn-like setting of the Heart Sutra, probably the most popular of all Buddhist sutras. Only in 1625: quite an appealing melody, but never re-printed.
  3. Jingye Tan Xuan (Quiet Evening Talk on Metaphysics)
    A setting of phrases from the Daoist; only in 1625.
  4. Awakened Minds (醒心集 Xing Xin Ji).)
    A melody related to a movement intended to unite the three religions; only in 1585.

Around the time Sanjiao Tongsheng appeared there was in China quite an increased interest in religion, as perhaps epitomized the the sentiments of this Xing Xin Ji. Interestingly, it was also at this time that the Jesuit missionaries such as Matteo Ricci were appearing in China.

There are also several other qin melodies that seem also to have connection with or be inspired by ritual or ritual-type music.4

Sanjiao Tongsheng does not have commentary with the individual melodies, nor does it give specific attributions. The general preface by Zheng Bangfu5 seems to suggest that Zhang Dexin may have adapted Shitan Zhang from a chant. Or perhaps he was transmitting someone else's adaptation. In 1625 the qin handbook Taiyin Xisheng stated that Shitan Zhang was written down by a man named Li Shuinan around the year 1578.6 Musically Shitan Zhang has very much the quality of a chant adapted for qin, whereas the Daoist and Confucian pieces have more the style of qin songs. With regard to this it is interesting to compare Shitan Zhang Se Kong Jue, mentioned above.

Wu Zhao's preface to Sanjiao Tongsheng suggests that perhaps Zhang Dexin was simply collecting these melodies (or arrangements from chant), not creating them. It says nothing about Zhang Dexin himself.

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Paired Music for Three Religions (三教同聲 San Jiao Tong Sheng (QQJC VI/109-119)
三教同聲; 10.1215 三教 sanjiao first says 夏、殷、周三代之教 rhe religion of the (first) three dynasties, Xia, Yin and Zhou. Next it says 儒教、佛教、道教 Confucianism, Buddhism and Daoism, giving as its earliest reference 北史,李士謙傳 the biography of Li Shiqian in the Bei Shi (History of the Northern Dynasties, compiled by 李延壽 Li Yanshou (d. ca. 677): "士謙善談元理。客問三教優劣。士謙曰:佛,日也;道,月也;儒,星也。 i.e., regarding the three religions, Buddhism is the sun, Daoisim the moon, Confucianism the stars.

Around the time Sanjiao Tongsheng was compiled there was a revival of interest in religion, one aspect of which can be seen in the efforts by Lin Zhaoen (1517-1598) to unify the "three religions". This is discussed here under a qin melody called Awakened Minds (醒心集 Xing Xin Ji).

2. 張德新 Zhang Dexin
Zhang Dexin, styled 賓桐 Bintong, is not in my dictionaries (the Zhang Dexin was Song dynasty). Sanjiao Tongsheng (QQJC VI, p. 108) says, 新安張德新嘉甫纂集 Compiled by Zhang Dexin Jiafu of Xin'an, so Jiafu (4233.39) was apparently another nickname for Zhang Dexin.

3. 12888.92 新安 mentions Xin'ans in Jiangsu (a river coming from Huangshan? see also Xie Lin), Hebei, Henan and Guangdong.

4. Seemingly ritual related qin melodies
These include 18 Scholars Ascend Yingzhou (1530) and Uniform Rule of the Great Ming (also 1530).

5. 鄭邦福 Zheng Bangfu (; Bio/xxx) Zhang signs himself as a Grand Master of Palace Accord serving as an official in Fujian province, but there is no further information.

6. The 李水南 Li Shuinan comment in 太音希聲 Taiyin Xisheng is in 琴曲集成 Qinqu Jicheng, Vol.IX, p.163. It expresses 1578 as 萬歷戊寅, mentioning 災梨 (bringing disaster to wood, an old term for cutting wood to make blocks for printing).

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