Cao Tang Yin
 T of C 
Qin as
Qin in
/ Song
Analysis History Ideo-
Personal email me search me
Japan Theme   Japanese Handbooks   in Hewen Zhuyin Qinpu   in Toko Kinpu Zhengchuan   Li Yun Chun Si 聽我的錄音 Listen to my recording   網站目錄
Thatched Cottage Intonation
- Yu mode (standard tuning2 : 1 2 4 5 6 1 2 )
草堂吟 1
Cao Tang Yin
  Cao Tang Yin tablature (1676; pdf) 3  
This page has expanded details because it was prepared for reference when presenting a paper at a 2018 conference about the 東皋琴譜 Donggao Qinpu (Japanese: Toko Kinpu), a generic name for the qin handbook in which this melody is preserved.4 The conference mostly took place at the 杭州永福寺 Yongfu Temple in Hangzhou,5 where 蔣興疇 Jiang Xingchou (1639-1695) lived before he went to Japan in 1676.6

My focus for this conference is the melody Thatched Cottage Intonation (草堂吟 Cao Tang Yin), comparing it to the melody Pear-White Clouds, Spring Thoughts (梨雲春思 Li Yun Chun Si) in 琴學心聲 Qin Xue Xin Sheng (1664), the handbook of Jiang Xingchou's teacher, 莊臻鳳 Zhuang Zhenfeng (ca. 1624 - after 1667).

The core materials for this comparative analysis document my reconstructions (dapu) of the two related melodies. These materials are:

  1. 我的梨雲春思錄音 My recording of my reconstruction of Li Yun Chun Si ("1664")
  2. 我的梨雲春思五線譜 My transcription of this recording
  3. 我的草堂吟錄音 My recording of my reconstruction of Cao Tang Yin (1676)
  4. 我的草堂吟五線譜 My transcription of this recording
  5. 我的梨雲春思和草堂吟五線譜在一起 My transcription pairing the two melodies for comparison
                          (fpr #5 each 總譜 grand staff has 1664 on the top and 1676 on the bottom).

Beyond this, to appreciate more fully the style of music played in Japan by Jiang Xingchou one should examine a varied sample of the available melodies. Such materials include:

Recordings of music from handbooks published in Japan. In this regard, The following 11 recordings are currently all of the recordings I have made of melodies from Jiang's Hewen Zhuyin Qinpu:

  1. 清平樂 Qing Ping Yue (XII/168)
  2. 東風齊著力 Dongfeng Qi Zhuo Li (XII/170)
  3. 浪淘沙 Lang Tao Sha (XII/169; qin only)
  4. 秋風辭 Qiu Feng Ci (XII/177)
  5. 子夜吳歌 Ziye Wu Ge (XII/185)
  6. 幽澗泉 You Jian Quan (XII/186)
  7. 醉翁操 Zui Weng Cao (XII/190)
  8. 八聲甘州 Basheng Ganzhou (XII/191)
  9. 鳳凰臺上憶吹簫 Fenghuang Taishang Yi Chui Xiao (XII/196)
  10. 梅花 Mei Hua (XII/203)
  11. 離別難 Libie Nan (XII/205; qin only)
  12. 憶王孫 Yi Wang Sun (XII/215)
  13. Caotang Yin (here; XII/216; qin only)
  14. 長相思 Chang Xiang Si (XII/220; qin only)
  15. 相思曲 Xiang Si Qu (XII/221; related to 1618: listen to six versions)
  16. 竹枝詞 Zhu Zhi Ci (XII/222)

Beyond this are melodies for which I have not completed my reconstructions. These include:

  1. 鶴沖霄 He Chong Xiao (XII/200)
  2. 飛瓊吟 Fei Qiong Yin (XII/202)

Also relevant are melodies from the handbook of Jiang's teacher, Zhuang Zhenfeng. This website currently includes recordings and commentary for three of these melodies:

  1. 梨雲春思 Li Yun Chun Si 7
  2. 臨河修禊 Lin He Xiu Xi
  3. 梧葉舞秋風 Wuye Wu Qiufeng

Thatched Cottage Intonation (草堂吟 Caotang Yin) is included in two old Japanese qin handbooks that in modern times have been re-printed (in perhaps reconstructed form): the qin handbook Toko Kinpu Zhengchuan (TKKP) and the handbook Hewen Zhuyin Qinpu (HWZY). Both are said to consist of guqin tablature either brought to Japan around the year 1676 by Jiang Xingchou, edited/revised by him while in Japan, or newly created by him while in Japan. For many pieces there may be no way to decide to which of these three categories any particular melody belongs.

On this page I compare two melodies in particular, Cao Tang Yin and the above-mentioned Li Yun Chun Si from the handbook of Zhuang Zhenfeng. The clear connections between the two makes such comparison potentially quite significant.

First, though, is a comparison of two Japanese editions of Caotang Yin. These two editions are here referred to by their initials simply as HWZY and TKKP. The two have the same lyrics, and the music is basically the same, with the following exceptions (see this marked copy):

  1. HWZY was hand-copied while TKKP is a modern block printing; I have not been able to see the copy from which TKKP was made
  2. HWZY adds Japanese symbols to indicate Chinese pronunciation, TKKP does not
  3. HWZY punctuates the phrases; TKKP does so for other melodies but not Caotang Yin
  4. HWZY names the mode at the beginning of each section (all 羽音 yu yin)
  5. There are a few differences in tablature (#s 1-11 correspond to numbers in red on the marked copy):
    1. In Section 2, with the character "斯" HWZY adds "上七" but TKKP does not
    2. Several notes later with "傳" TKKP mistakenly adds an extra stroke; it seems to correct this above the top of the column
    3. With the characters "閔閔閔" HWZY adds some explanatory comments in the column while TKKP does not (they do not seem necessary)
    4. In Section 3 on the characters "海棠" HWZY has "勾剔對起" ("對起" is a left hand technique that usually has no lyrics assigned) while TKKP omits the "剔", which is less idiomatic
    5. Shortly after this, on "開遍", HWZY says the left hand stops the fifth string in the position 7.7; TKKP has "8.5", which gives a dubious dissonance with the paired open fifth string
    6. Right after this, on "怪得" HWZY adds a "退復" in small print; TKKP does not.
    7. At the end of Section 3 HWZY adds a fingering explanation in small print, then says that "聖湖野?手校 Seiko....." (both versions have this at the end of the piece)
    8. In Section 4 with the word "堂" TKKP says to play at "五下"; HWZY is probably correct with "五"
    9. Throughout Section 4, in several places where there is a "撥刺" HWZY specifies the finger position while TKKP leaves it out (it is actually unnecessary because there is no change from the position with the previous note).
    10. With "雙飛" and three later places in Section 4 HWZY adds marginal explanation not in TKKP
    11. With "海棠" HWZY has "抹七挑"; TKKP omits the "七".
    Most of the differences are thus of style, though there were at least three places where the notes were somewhat different; in these cases I believe HWZY had the more correct tablature.

Next, regarding the lyrics, those of Caotang Yin and of the first four sections of Li Yun Chun Si are identical. The lyrics of Caotang Yin comprise four sets of ci lyrics; the four sections are named after their respective ci patterns. Li Yun Chun Si has 10 sections, each with the name of the ci pattern to which it sets its lyrics (Section 10 includes a coda, but overall still follows its ci pattern). The lyrics of Cao Tang Yin are identical to those of the first four sections, plus the first line of the fifth section, of Li Yun Chun Si. Li Yun Chun Si attributes its lyrics to 錢塘毛先舒 Mao Xianshu, who lived in Hangzhou when Jiang Xingchou was there. The Cao Tang Yin tablature does not name the author of its lyrics.

As for the music, here one should discuss the musical modes as well as the actual melodies. Two types of approach are important to consider:

  1. Prescriptive:
    The traditionaal approach seems mostly concerned with things like comparing the 五音 five tones with such things as the 五行 five elements and the 五臟 five types of syllables, and then saying the music should be created accordingingly.
  2. Descriptive:
    My own approach, this requires looking directly at the music and trying to determine such things as primary and secondary tonal centers; this work and the results are discussed in some detail on this website, such as on the page
    Modality in early Ming qin tablature.

Unfortunately, it is very difficult to align these direct observations with the ideas expressed in early Chinese writings on musical mode.

Regarding the modes of the two melodies here, Li Yun Chun Si is said to be in shang mode while Caotang Yin is categorized as yu mode. As mentioned in the linked article above, during the Ming dynasty, particularly the early Ming, melodies that used these two modes had very distinct differences. By the the end of the Ming these modal characteristics seemed to be changing. The different modes still seem quite distinctive, but the distinctions were becoming either more complex or more inconsistent. Specifically, in the Japanese handbooks the mpdal treatment often seems rather different from that of earlier practice (note that the scale 1 2 3 5 6 is equivalent to the relative pitches do re mi so la).

This leaves open the question as to whether the use of mode had changed by that time, or whether a knowledgeable critic then would have considered the Caotang Yin melodies creative in their use of mode, or that they violated normal rules. My own tentative observation, from having played about a dozen melodies from the Japanese handbooks, is that their treatment of mode is not very consistent. My difficulty at times in seeing the logic of those modes has made memorization more problematic in longer pieces.

As for the melodies themselves, those in Li Yun Chun Si are attributed to Zhuang Zhenfeng himself. However, the only attribution in Cao Tang Yin is, "曲肱軒藏譜 music from the Qugong Xuan Collection" (meaning unclear: a book collection that includes the works of Zhuang Zhenfeng? Two other Toko Kinpu melodies mention Qugong Xuan, Feng Wu Ming Pei and Zui Weng Cao). The music of the four sections of Caotang Yin are related to that of the first four sections of Li Yun Chun Si as discussed below. In general, because the four sections are set to the same lyrics the musical structures are naturally similar. When reconstructing such pairs of melodies my general inclination to emphasize this similarity through using similar rhythm, where possible. In the case of some such pairs the fingering, and in particular the ornamentation, does not allow both settings to have similar rhythms. In the case of the four pairs here this does not seem to be the case.

In Caotang Yin each section is named according to the ci forms used:

  1. Magpie Bridge Immortals (鵲橋仙 Que Qiao Xian)
    There is little melodic overlap between the two versions. Tonal centers in China are primarily 1 then 5, in Japan primarily 2 then 5 and 1.
  2. 點絳唇 Dian Jiang Chun
    The two handbooks for the most part have essentially the same melody, but there are clear modal differences. Tonal centers in both are 5, 1 and 2 but China it ends on 1 while in Japan it ends on 2.
  3. 好事近 Hao Shi Jin
    The two melodies are different but at times related: the third of the four lines of each has the same melody. Tonal centers in both China Japan are 1 then 5.
  4. 畫堂春 Hua Tang Chun
    The melodies are different, though again there are some places where they are quite similar. Tonal centers in both are again 1 and 5, with each line of bothh ending the same, except that the whole poem in Japan ends on 2. Then in Japan there is the coda, which again ends on 2.

To sum up the relationship between the two melodies, it should be clear from the above that Jiang Xingchou was familiar with Li Yun Chun Si, and not just because it was a melody played by his teacher. This does bring up several suppositions:

The only way to try to recapture the melodic style of qin songs from that time will thus be to try to become familiar with the style by reconstructing as many of these melodies as one can.

Some of the issues that should be examined to further consider the issues brought up on this page are:

Some further questions about the Japanese handbooks are listed here. A separate issue would be discussion of the vocal tecniques used when singing these songs.8

Cao Tang Yin: Original preface

Cao Tang Yin: music and lyrics; 10 (timings below follow my tentative recording 聽錄音 [and see transcription [看五線譜]
Compare 梨雲春思 Li Yun Chun Si, said to be shang mode; here the 4 sections are all said to be in yu mode (details). For each section the music is paired to a separate ci patten following the traditional syllabic pairing method. The lyrics themselves are as follows (translation largely the work of 章琛 Zhang Chen):

  1. 00.16 (preceded by closing harmonics)
    鵲橋仙 Que Qiao Xian (Magpie Bridge Immortals)
    The ci setting of this name
    in Japan has the same lyrics but different music. There are also earlier settings, the most famous one perhaps being this one by 秦觀 Qin Guan. Qing Ping Yue also concerns Magpie Bridge, but the form is unrelated.

    Qīng nuǎn pò hán, dān yún gé yǔ, tíng yuàn shēn shēn yīng yǔ.
    Wisps of warmth break the cold, lagging clouds delay the rain,
          Deep, deep in the courtyard orioles sing.
    Yāo táo zhī bàn chū qiáng tóu, jiàn wú shù fēng kuáng dié wǔ.
    Blooming boughs of peach blossoms half-reach over the wall,
          Beholding countless bees and butterflies dancing wildly.
    Liǔ wài xiù ān, huā qián luó wà, mò shàng xuān tiān xiāo gǔ.
    Beyond the willows: horses with embroidered saddles, beneath the flowers: gauze stockings,
          On the roads, the din of flutes and drums.
    Chūn fēng yǒu yì nǎo rén cháng, wèn hé chù jiāng gāo xiāng pǔ.
    Spring winds purposefully vex the heart;
          I ask where [my beloved] is - on the Yangtze shores or Xiang River banks?

  2. 01.18
    點絳唇 Dian Jiang Chun (A Touch of Red Lips)
    Very similar music to the one in
    Li Yun Chun Si; Li Qingzhao wrote several ci poems in this form. And Japanese handbooks have at least one other examples, this Nan Pu Yue.

    Xì yǔ xié fēng, shí'èr gāo lóu yān jǐ cùn.
    Fine rain, a slanting breeze,
    twelve high towers [blocked by] how many inches of mist?
    Sheí xiāng sī rèn, chuán yǔ qīng luán xìn.
    With whom to make acquaintance
          And deliver a
    missive by blue simurgh?
    Juàn yǐ zhū lián, zhǎng bào xīn chūn hèn.
    [She] stands languidly by the pearl curtain,
          Always harboring regrets about spring.
          mèn mèn mèn.
          so so sad!
    Luàn hóng chéng zhèn, yòu shì Qīng Míng jìn.
    Disorderly red petals form an array,
          As again the Clear Luminous Festival approaches.

  3. 02.05
    好事近 Hao Shi Jin (Approaching Bliss)
    in Japan as well as a ci of this name by Fan Chengda, one by Li Qingzhao, and many by other women poets.

    Dú zì bù tái jiē, jīng xùn hǎi táng kāi biàn.
    I walk in solitude on the mossy steps,
          Surprised to find the begonias in full bloom.
    Guài dé dōng huáng yǒu yì, yě dào shēn shēn yuàn.
    I marvel that the God of the East (i.e. of Spring) has the intent
          To also visit my deep, deep abode.
    Xī huā cháng shì wèi huā chóu, xiū dù chūn fēng miàn.
    I cherish the flowers, always worried for them,
          Humbled and jealous of the face of spring wind.
    Bì mén bù guǎn sháo huá, fù yǔ yīng hé yàn.
    Shut the door and stop caring about the season’s splendor –
          Give it up to the orioles and the swallows.

  4. 02.44
    畫堂春 Hua Tang Chun (A Painted Hall in Spring)
    Two ci in this pattern
    by Qin Guan are given here (translated on another site) and here. Such publications, with no musical setting, do not indicate a repeat of the last phrase, as here. There are in fact at least two other available melodic settings of these lyrics. Regarding these, note that the song of this name from 1687 does not repeat the last phrase or indicate any repetition in the melody. Meanwhile, the Hua Tang Chun in Japan (#4 of its Caotang Yin) has the same lyrics and also repeats the last phrase, but it then adds as a coda (this being its last section) the first line of what is in Li Yun Chun Si Section 5, "昨夜東風入畫屏,欹枕不勝情。"

    Jiè wèn dōng fēng lái jǐ shí, jīn táng yàn zǐ shuāng fēi.
    When will the east wind come?
          In the hall ornamented with gold, swallows fly in pairs.
    Fú huā làng ruǐ nòng chūn huī, fēng dié fēi fēi.
    Flower petals, frivolous and free, frolic in spring sunlight;
          Bees and butterflies in flurries.
    Mén xiàng lún tí zá dá, yuán lín hóng zǐ fāng fēi.
    On the gate lane, carriage wheels and hooves leave disorderly imprints;
          In garden and grove, reds and purples fragrantly bloom.
    Hǎi táng zì xī shì huā fēi, zhuó yì pái huái, zhuó yì pái huái.
    And begonias are cherished as flowery consorts –
          I take care to linger. I take care to linger. (The repeat of this last phrase has a different melody.)

Coda 03.31 (in harmonics; compare Li Yun Chun Si #5 少年遊 Shao Nian You [Youthful Travel])

Zuó yè dōng fēng rù huà píng, yī zhěn bù shèng qíng.
Last night as the east wind seeped through the painted screen
      I propped myself on a pillow overwhelmed with emotion.
03.54 (end)

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. 草堂唫(吟) Cao Tang Yin references (QQJC (XII/216)
31629.173 etc. xxx; Zha Guide 35/--/509: only here.

2. Yu Mode (羽音 Yu Yin
Standard tuning; see Shenpin Yu Yi

3. Image: Cao Tang Yin tablature
At front: "曲肱軒藏譜,凡四闋" (Tablature from the Qugong Xuan [14610.93: room name of 宋,魏衍 Wei Yan], in four sections)
At end of sections 3 and 4: "聖湖野樵手挍" (Corrected by Seiko ____)
The above image was copied from Qinqu Jicheng XII. See also the complete tablature (pdf).

4. 《東皋琴譜》古琴打譜會 Conference on Reconstruction of Guqin Music in the Toko Kinpu (announcement)
杭州永禪福寺2018年12月28-30日 From 28 to 30 December 2018 at the Yongfu Temple in Hanghzou (next footnote)
The timing of the conference was related to the 2015 publication of a Chinese edition of the
東皋琴譜正本 Donggao Qinpu Zhengben (Japanese: Toko Kinpu Shohon; English: Correct Toko Kinpu). This handbook, originally published in Tokyo in 2001, is an attempt to re-create the most complete known edition of a Japanese handbook of that name, apparently produced in Japan in 1710 either by 杉浦琴川 Sugiura Kinsen (1660-1711) or by a student of his 小野田東川 Onoda Tosen(1684-1763). Both were students of 蔣興疇 Jiang Xingchou (1639-1695), known in Japan by various names including 東皋心越 Toko Shin Etsu.

Other editions of handbooks connected to Shin Etsu are discussed separately. The generic name for the various handbooks with the music connected to Jiang Xingchou can be either in Japanese pronunciation Toko Kinpu or in Chinese pronunciation Donggao Qinpu. The edition from 2001/2015 may be referred to for short as the "正本 zhengben".

5. 杭州永禪福寺 Hangzhou's Yongfu Temple / 永禪福寺 Yongfu Chan Temple
Jiang Xingchou lived for some time at this temple before leaving for Japan in 1676. Some time later the temple was abandoned, the buildings so much destroyed that they could not be reconstructed. Thus the modern temple complex, in a hill above Hanghzhou's West Lake, consists of traditional style buildings but completely new construction. In 2018 it celebrated the 10th anniversary of its revival.

6. Jiang Xingchou
His biography does not say much about his work at Yongfu Temple

7. 梨雲春思 Li Yun Chun Si (1664)
See references.

8. Vocal technique in singing these songs
In Japan the performers would presumably have been amateurs. To the extent that they might have been sung in China it is interesting to read articles related to this subject by Professsor Xu Peng.

9. Preface
Commentary from Li Yun Chun Si must be relevant here.

10. Music and lyrics (XII/212)
Recorded in Weehawken, November 2018.

Return to the Guqin ToC