Ting Qin Yin 聽琴吟
 T of C 
Qin as
Qin in
/ Song
Analysis History Ideo-
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ZCZZ   ToC / Rhapsody on Listening to a Qin My recording with transcriptions 錄音、五線譜   首頁
Intonation on Listening to a Qin
Shang mode:2 1 2 4 5 6 1 2
聽琴吟 1
Ting Qin Yin  
  Du Jin: Listening to Reverend Ying play the qin 3                                          
This melody, like the painting at right, is connected to a poem by Han Yu called Listening to Reverend Ying Play the Qin: the text of the poem is used as lyrics for the qin melody, and it is also inscribed onto the painting.4 Reverend Ying was a well-known qin player of Han Yu's time.

The title Ting Qin Yin is found in four handbooks from the 1589 edition of the present handbook to one published in 1820. They are all very similar to each other, or even copied from each other, though the third version omits the lyrics.5 The opening melody is remarkably similar to the opening of the melody Jingguan Yin as published in 1579.

Requiring particular comment is a phrase added to the melody just before the closing harmonic coda. This phrase, "When playing, to meet someone knowledgeable of music one keenly feels so filled it is painful" (see Melody and lyrics, Section 3), is not in Han Yu's original poem (q.v.). The tablature at this point indicates a multiple finger technique (tao cuo san sheng) often found at such endings. The inappropriate nature (from a literary standpoint) of this additional text can only be explained by understanding the pairing rules, described elsewhere, that require lyrics whenever notes are plucked. The effect created is that someone set Han Yu's lyrics to music very nicely, then someone later decided that the tao cuo san sheng needed lyrics as well, so they created some.6

Not yet translated: after crediting the poem by Han Yu, it mentions Reverend Ying's playing skills, then refers to stories about Minzi and Cai Yong that concern true expression on the qin.

Melody and lyrics 8
The melody and lyrics are divided into three sections, each with a title. Titles are not sung. Phrases with // at both ends are repeated: the tablature does not make clear whether the lyrics should be repeated or only the music. (Note the added phrase at the end of the penultimate line, and see the comment on the translation.)

Timings follow my recording 聽錄音 (see transcription 看五線譜 and compare with 1579 Jingguan Yin)

  1. (00.00)
    The music becomes magical (Gōng shāng biàn huàn 宮商變幻)
    //昵昵兒女語,// 恩怨相「爾汝」。
    //Nì nì ér nǚ yǔ,// ēn yuàn xiāng ěr rǔ.
    //Affectionately whispering a young boy and girl speak,// in fondness or anger they (call) each other "dear".

    Huà rán biàn xuān áng, yǒng shì fù dí chǎng.
    Abruptly it changes to the heroic, brave warriors charging to the battle field.

    Fú yún liǔ xù wú gēn dì, tiān kuò dì yuǎn suí fēi yáng.
    Floating clouds of willow fluff without stamens, (across the) sky broad and earth vast accordingly fly and flutter.

  2. (00.45)
    Fingering straight as the strings (Zhǐ rù tūn zhǔn shéng 指入焞準繩)
    //Xuān jiū bǎi niǎo qún, hū jiàn gū fèng huáng. //
    //The raucous cries of hundreds of birds in a flock, suddenly see a solitary phoenix.//

    Jī pān fēn cùn bù kě shàng, shī shì yī luò qiān zhàng qiáng.
    It scrambles upwards inching (until it) no longer can go up,
          losing control it abruptly falls a thousand fathoms and more.

  3. (01.20)
    Feeling the music brings tears (Gǎn yīn xìng tì 感音興涕)
    Juē yú yǒu liǎng ěr, wèi shěng tīng sī huáng.
    Oh, (ever since) I've had two ears, I've never known how to listen to strings or pipes.

    Zì wén Yǐng shī tán, qǐ zuò zài yī páng.
    //(But) since I've heard Reverend Ying play, (I've had to) rise from my seat (in respect) to one side.//

    推手遽止之,濕衣淚滂滂。(added: 彈遇知音痛感傷。)
    Tuī shǒu jù zhǐ zhī, shī yī lèi pāng pāng. (Tán yù zhī yīn tòng gǎn shāng.)
    (I) wave my arm in order to stop him, soaking my robe my tears gush down.
          (Added: When playing, to meet someone knowledgeable of music one keenly feels so filled it is painful.)

    (Fànyīn) Yǐng hū, ěr chéng néng, wú yǐ bīng tàn zhì wǒ cháng.
    (Harmonic closing) Ying, ah! You are really capable,
          (but) don't cause (your) ice and coals (i.e., the emotional turmoil of the music) to go straight to my belly!

    (02.25: End)

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a
separate page)

1. Intonation on listening to a qin (聽琴吟 Ting Qin Yin (VII/77)
聽琴賦 29852.xxx (no 聽琴). The melody and lyrics here are unrelated to those of the Rhapsody on Listening to a Qin (Ting Qin Fu). For more on the lyrics here, see the Melody and Lyrics.

2. Shang mode
Shang mode is commonly associated with autumn and sadness. See more under Shenpin Shang Yi.

3. Du Jin: Listening to Reverend Ying play the qin 杜堇:聽穎師彈琴圖
Du Jin (Wikipedia) was a well known Ming dynasty painter about whom little personal is known. This painting is part of a series called 古賢詩意圖 Poetic Feelings of Ancient Immortals. The original is in the Palace Museum, Beijing; there are many online images, but none of them is complete. This closeup from the upper strip shows someone sitting at a table; through the trees there seems to be a faint outline of the moon. Meanwhile, this closeup from the lower strip shows someone seated on the ground playing a qin; a listener is seated in front of him. As for text, the left side of the upper strip has the title, Listening to Reverend Ying Play qin but to the right there is the text of a poem by Li Bai; on the left side of the lower strip is written "qin song", while to the right there is the text of Han Yu's poem. Unfortunately, I have not seen an image showing the precise relationship between the two presumed halves.

The poem by Li Bai on the right side of the upper strip is Wine in Hand Asking the Moon (把酒問月 Ba Jiu Wen Yue). A number of translations are available, such as the one by Sun Yu in Li Po, a New Translation, p. 232 (Questioning the Moon While Drinking); there are several more online, including the ones here and here (Ask the Moon With a Cup of Wine in Hand). The original words of the poem are used as lyrics for a melody of this title in Lixing Yuanya (1618; QQJC VIII/241; seven-string qin, standard tuning, jue mode). The 1618 text is given below; note that in several places it is different from the version on the scroll above: the text of the scroll isn't completely clear; the versions that I can see are different from the song text have been put in parentheses to the right of the present lyrics. The most significant difference is perhaps the last character of row five, 憐 lian (pity) instead of 鄰 lin (neighbor). The 1618 song text arranges the lyrics into two sections, as follows:

皎如飛鏡臨丹闕。緑煙㓕盡清輝發。       (㓕 = 滅 = 灭)
玉兔搗藥秋復春,姮娥孤栖與誰憐?       (白兔搗藥秋復春,嫦娥孤棲與誰鄰?)

唯願當歌對酒時,月光常照金樽裡。       (尊)

The online commentary about the painting does not say why the Du Jin scroll included illustrated poems by both Li Bai and Han Yu. The most complete commentary I have so far found is:


All online versions I have seen have, "金琮跋云「□□....」 An afterword by Jin Zong (1449-1501) says, '□□....'", suggesting "□□" means two characters are cut out or indecipherable in the original rather than that all online texts blindly copy one mistaken interpretation.

4. Listening to Reverend Ying Play the Qin (聽穎師彈琴 Ting Ying Shi Tan Qin)
See text.

5. Tracing Ting Qin Yin
Zha Guide 29/226/433 lists this title in four handbooks, as follows:

  1. 1589 (VII/77; here; shang mode)
  2. 1802 (XVII/532; zhi mode, but almost identical)
  3. >1802 (XIX/145; shang mode; "same as 1589" but omits lyrics)
  4. 1828 (XX/456; zhi mode; seems to be copy of 1802)

As mentioned, all seem to be copies or near copies of each other.

6. Added phrases
To me adding the lyrics here is like "adding feet on a snake". In contrast, though, this same melody in three places has a two-note passage at the beginning of a phrase with no lyrics attached. These are clearly passing tones that should not require lyrics, but often such lyrics would be applied anyway because of the pairing rules described elsewhere.

7. Original Chinese preface
The original preface in the 1589 Yang Lun Taigu Yiyin of Zhenchuan Zhengzong Qinpu is as follows:


8. Original lyrics for Ting Qin Yin
My transcription of this melody includes under the respective notes the original Chinese characters of the poem by Han Yu, under this their pinyin romanization, then under this a mostly word by word translation, with the a copy of the original tablature at bottom.

The translation is based on that in Egan, Controversy (p.48), but altered so that it can fit into this word for word structure.

The melody of Ting Qin Yin arranges Han Yu's original lyrics into three titled sections, as follows. Titles are not sung. Phrases with // at both ends are repeated: the tablature does not make clear whether the lyrics should be repeated or only the music. And note the added phrase at the end of the penultimate line.

1. 宮商變幻

2. 指入焞準繩

3. 感音興涕
added: 彈遇知音痛感傷。)

This text is included with translation and Romanization above.

Return to the top or to the Zhenchuan Zhengzong Qinpu intro.