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Qin Cao 1 琴操
"Qin Melodies"; by Cai Yong (133 - 192), with added comment on other Qin Cao 2 蔡邕
  A sample page from two versions of Cai Yong's Qin Cao 3  
A Qin Cao attributed to Cai Yong was often mentioned or even quoted over subsequent centuries,4 but there are no surviving copies of any Qin Cao attributed to Cai Yong prior to the Qing dynasty. The earliest known possible example of such a work prior to the Qing dynasty seems to be a Qin Cao listed in the Chu Xue Ji by the Tang dynasty literatus Xu Jian, but it was not attributed to Cai Yong.5 Later listings are clearly related to this one, but it is not clear how direct this influence was.

After this one can find during the Song and/or Ming dynasty several melody lists that are almost the same as the one in Chu Xue Ji, such as this listing found in versions of the Song or Ming dynasty handbook variously known as Taigu Yiyin and Taiyin Daquanji. But these again do not seem either to have been called Qin Cao or to have been directly attributed to Cai Yong.6

After this there do not seem to have been any further Qin Cao listings until the Qing dynasty, when many such "Qin Cao" appear with almost identical titles to the earlier ones, now attributed to Cai Yong (partial list). These generally have commentary on the melodies, but their content varies quite a bit and their sources are generally unclear. It is thus difficult to assess the connection of any of these surviving versions with a supposed original by Cai Yong himself.

The focus of this page is on the two Qin Cao versions most readily available in print today, which are as follows:

  1. The earliest known version, shown in the image above right (expand) and outlined here from a Song/Ming dynasty source (based on the above-mentioned Tang dynasty source?).
    This Song/Ming source names Cai Yong and lists most of the melodies but does not use the title "Qin Cao" . Its contents, also listed here and shown in the image at the top of that page (expand) from a Ming dynasty edition of Taiyin Daquanji. 7
  2. A better known one, typical of those found in the Qing dynasty; it was included in the Pingjin Guan Book Collection.
    From its content below note in particular its melodies. The beginning of its Hejian Zage is shown in the lower half at right.8

There are two primary differences between these two versions. First, both list four types of qin pieces: 5 Melodies, 12 Laments, 9 Preludes and 21 further "Hejian" pieces, but the earlier versions were only lists of titles. Secondly, the fourth sections of each list melody titles that are completely different from each other. The Song/Ming versions call the fourth section Hejian Yage, those from the Qing dynasty call it Hejian Zage (as did the Tang version, though it actually did not name any of its zage). To see these differences, compare the last section of the Song/Ming Taiyin list (as shown at the top of this page) with the last section of the better known Pingjin list shown here (the beginning of the original is in the lower image at right). From this it can be seen that the main differences between these two can be detailed as follows:

  1. The Qin Cao in the earlier Taiyin Daquanji has 21 titles under the title "Hejian Yage" (see this list as well as the red line in columns #3 and 4 from the left of the image at the top of this page; translation there is at #8). In contrast, the Pingjin Guan and other Qing dynasty editions end with 21+3 completely different pieces referred to as Hejian Zage.
  2. As with the Tang list, the Taiyin Daquanji version is a list only (except in editions that begin with a brief yinshi). In contrast, in all four sections of the Pingjin Guan edition there is extended commentary with each melody title (shown in the appendix).9

As shown here there were a number of early melody lists: more than one could have referred to as Qin Cao. Many more could have existed in handwritten form and been passed around with constant updating.

Thus it is not surprising that, as mentioned here, some skepticism has been expressed as to whether any of the actual content of the Qin Cao attributed to Cao Yong has actually survived: or which of the surviving parts actually can be safely attributed to him. Nevertheless, it is also certainly possible that Cai did somewhere list qin melodies, and that it was one such list that was included in the Chu Xue Ji .

Since none of the melody lists surviving from prior to the Ming dynasty have been shown to have seem to have had commentary for the individual melodies, but independent of the lists one can find commenatry on some of the melodies found in such lists, one might then argue that during the Qing dynasty some person or persons decided to take one of the old melody listings and introduce them as Cai Yong might have done, then refer to the resulting text as the Qin Cao of Cai Yong. This, however, is also little more than speculation.10

Here one might also speculate that the Chu Xue Ji list did not name the Hejian Zage melodies because that part of the original list had been lost. Further, that during the Song or Ming dynasty someone made up what they considered a likely list of Hejian pieces, headed by Cai Yong's own Caishi Wu Nong, but decided that Yage (Elegant Songs) would be more appropriate than Zage (Miscellaneous Songs). Then during the Qing dynasty some scholars who were more familiar with Cai Yong's story and work decided that there were other old melody titles that might be more appropriate to Cai Yong and for which, furthermore, there were existing introductions. So they selected these and went back tot the old title Hejian Zage.

Hopefully further research will one day take this beyond the realm of speculation and into that of educated guesswork.

In addition to these two types of Qin Cao attributed to Cai Yong himself, there have also been various other Qin Cao attributed to other writers. Sometimes this may refer to a single piece, other times specifically to (lists of) "cao", other times to (lists of) melodies in general. This leads to some confusion because "Qin Cao" is quoted extensively in Yuefu Shiji, Qin Shi and elsewhere, but the author/source is almost never identified. This suggests the quote should be from the most famous version, by Cai Yong. However, the quotes there are not always the same as what is given the Pingjin Guan or other existing editions of the surviving Qin Cao attributed to Cai Yong. This leaves open the question of differing editions as well as competing titles. Here comments about this are generally referenced through links or in footnotes.

Contents of Qin Cao (Pingjin Guan edition)

Preface to the Revised Edition
By Ma Ruichen, 180512

Preface Head
In the Pingjin Guan edition this is as follows:

Fu Xi made a qin, whereby to restrain falsehood, to guard the heart against low desires, that man might be cultivated and his nature regulared, to make man return to what is truly heavenly in him (Van Gulik14).

The qin is 3 chi, 6 cun, 6 fen long, resembling the 360 days in a year. It is 6 cun wide, resembling the 6 harmonies. Above the (文?) is called a "pool"; below is called a "cliff". A pool is a pond; it speaks of being level. Below (this? is the area) called a "shoreline"; a shoreline is a guest, it speaks of being ready to serve. It is broad in front and narrow in back, (thus) resembling social rank. Above it is round, below it is square, (thus) following the plan of heaven and earth.

The five strings (are gong?.... elsewhere the words 宮也 are omitted; perhaps some other editions include the four names of what were considered the five original strings), resembling the five elements (metal, wood, water, fire, earth). The big (first) string is the master; it is broad-minded and genial. The small string (second string) is the servant, modest and not disorderly. Wen Wang and Wu Wang each added a string (see Zhu Quan comment); this was in order to draw together the affections of the master and vassal. Gong (string) is lord, shang (string) is servant, jue (string) is the people, zhi (string) is affairs, yu (string) is objects.

Qin Cao had five melodies for Book of Songs poems. The first was (all five are listed as below); the 12 laments were (listed as below); the 9 preludes were (listed as below). There were 21 Hejian Zage (not listed in the preface).

(List of the melodies in Qin Cao, with introductions to each (Qing dynasty edition, as in QQJC XXX/17-30)
(A version of the original text of the introductions is in the Appendix below. There may be inconsistencies in different Qing dynasty editions. Not yet translated; follow the links or footnotes for further details of each piece..15)

(Five Melodies for Book of Songs Poems 歌詩五曲)

  1. 鹿鳴 Lu Ming (Deer Call; Mao#161)16
  2. 伐檀 Fa Tan (Chop Sandalwood; Mao#112)17
  3. 騶虞 Zouyu (The Zouyu [a fabulous tiger]; Mao#25)18
  4. 鵲巢 Que Chao (Magpie's Nest; Mao#12)19
  5. 白駒 Bai Ju (White Colt; Mao#186)20

(Twelve Laments 十二操)
(Individual melody titles should perhaps also render "cao" as "lament")

  1. 將歸操 Jiang Gui Cao (About to Return Melody)
  2. 猗蘭操 Yilan Cao (Esteemed Orchid Melody)
  3. 龜山操 Guishan Cao (Turtle Mountain Melody)
  4. 越裳操 Yueshang Cao (Yueshang Melody)
  5. 拘幽操 Juyou Cao (Gloomy-Detention Melody)
  6. 岐山操 Qishan Cao (Melody of Mount Qi)
  7. 履霜操 Lü Shuang Cao (Walking-in-the-Frost Melody)
  8. 朝飛操 Zhi Zhao Fei Cao (Melody of the Pheasant Flies in the Morning)
  9. 別鶴操 Bie He Cao, see under Bie Gu Cao (Parting Snowgoose Melody)
  10. 殘形操 Can Xing Cao (Partial Form Melody)
  11. 水仙操 Shuixian Cao, (Water Immortals' Melody); see Shuixian Qu (and text)
  12. 懷陵操 Huailing Cao (Cherished Mound Melody)21

(Nine Preludes 九引)

  1. 列女引 Lienü Yin
  2. 伯姬引 Boji Yin (see the Governess of Boji)
  3. 貞女引 Zhen Nü Yin (see the Woman of Lu)
  4. 思歸引 Si Gui Yin (see also the Woman of Wei)
  5. 霹靂引 Pili Yin (also see Fenglei Yin)
  6. 走馬引 Zouma Yin (see Chuli Mugong)
  7. 箜篌引 Konghou Yin (see Huoli Zigao)
  8. 琴引     Qin Yin (see Tumen Gao)
  9. 楚引     Chu Yin (see Longqiu Gao)

(21 Hejian Zage 河閒雜歌二十一章 ; compare Hejian Yage 22; QQJC XXX/24-30)

  1. 箕山操         Jishan Cao (see under Dunshi Cao)
  2. 周太伯         Zhou Taibo (= Aishang zhi Ge?)
  3. 文王受命     Wen Wang Shou Ming (see Wen Wang)
  4. 文王思士     Wen Wang Si Shi (see Wen Wang)
  5. 思親操         Si Qin Cao (see in 1511)
  6. 周金縢         Zhou Jin Teng (see under Feng Lei Yin)
  7. 儀鳳歌         Yi Feng Ge (see Xiaoshao Jiucheng, Fenghuang Laiyi)
  8. 龍蛇歌         Long She Ge (elsewhere called Shi Shi Zhi Cao)
  9. 芑梁妻歎     Qi Liang Qi Tan (by the Wife of Qi Liang)
  10. 崔子渡河操 Cuizi Du He Cao ("by Minzi")
  11. 楚明光         Chu Ming Guang (see Chu Ming Guang)
  12. 信立退怨歌 Xin Li Tui Yuan Ge (see Bian He)
  13. 曾子歸耕     Zengzi Gui Geng (see under Zengzi)
  14. 梁山操         Liangshan Cao (also under Zengzi)
  15. 諫不違歌     Jian Bu Wei Ge (see Shi Yu)
  16. 莊周獨處吟 Zhuangzhou Du Chu Yin (details)
  17. 孔子厄         Kongzi E (see Confucius)
  18. 三士窮         San Shi Qiong (see Three Gentlemen)
  19. 聶政刺韓王 Nie Zheng Ci Hanwang (translation; Hejian Yage has Guangling San, about which see further)
  20. 霍將軍歌     Huo Jiangjun Ge
  21. 怨曠思惟歌 Yuankuang Siwei Ge (concerns Wang Zhaojun)

  22. 處女吟         Chu Nü Yin (commentary missing; see YFSJ)
  23. 流澌咽         Liu Si Yin (commentary missing; see YFSJ)
  24. 雙燕離         Shuang Yan Li (commentary missing; see YFSJ)
Qin Cao Supplemental Notes 琴操補遺
Seems to introduce old melodies, citing the sources.

  1. "魯哀公十四年西狩新者獲麟...." (獲麟操 Huo Lin
  2. 伍員奔吳.... Wu Zi Xu Flees to Wu
  3. 伍子胥歌曰:俟罪斯國。志願得兮。庶此太康。皆吾力兮。....
  4. 伍子胥歌曰:庶此....
  5. 甯戚飯牛車....: Ning Qi Feeds the Ox (Pulling his) Cart
  6. 孔子遊於臈山,見取薪而哭....: Confucius travels to Ji Shan (? Elsewhere 山, 臘山, 隅山....) and cries when he is offered a salary.... (see 論語憲問 Lun Yu, Xian Wen 1)
  7. 孔子遊於泰山,見薪者哭....:Confucius travels to Tai Shan and cries.... (compare previous)
  8. 雍門周說:孟嘗君....:Yongmen Zhou says, Lord Mengchang....
  9. 得天下之意.... (only title and source)

There seems to be significant variety in the Supplemental Notes of the various editions. For example, two further songs listed elsewhere include:

  1. 狄水歌 Di Shui Ge (Song of the Di River; this is probably connected in some way to Jiang Gui Cao):

  2. 盤操 Pan Cao


Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Qin Cao attributed to Cai Yong
Regarding the meaning of "cao" in "Qin Cao", "cao" has the basic meaning of "melody" or "melodies", but also a more specialized meaning sometimes translated as "lament". Both of these meanings can be found in the individual qin cao in the list attributed to Cai Yong: it divides melodies into various types, one of which is the cao, or lament, but there are also cao in other sections.

This page was revised in 2022 with help from Tao Ran, whose M.A. thesis at Nanjing University discusses the significance of the differences between the varying versions of the Qin Cao, but "is not yet ready for publication." The dissertation title is,

Also helpful has been this article:

This has information that will be incorporated into her upcoming (as of 2023) book about Qin Cao. As can be seen from the title, this article focuses on "cao". Regarding the word's meaning she quotes the famous literatus 劉向 Liu Xiang (77 BCE–6 CE) on early use it:

君子因雅琴之適,故從容以致思焉。其道閉邪,悲愁而作者,名其曲曰操。 言遇災害不失其操也。
A gentleman relies on the way of the elegant zither. This is why he may entrust his thoughts to (his play) while being completely relaxed. A piece that was composed by someone who was in sorrow and anger because his way was obstructed, is called a cao. It means that someone even when he encounters misery will not lose his principles.

琴書存目 Qinshu Cunmu entry 12 outlines the Qing dynasty editions of Qin Cao, giving the following as references. Most of them seem to be collections that contain an edition of Qin Cao.

平津館校本 Pingjin Guanjiao (this is the one most readily available)
讀畫齋 Duhuazhai (1799; missing 五曲#4 explanation + 河閒雜歌 7 & 8); 補 diff.
漢魏遺書輯 Han Wei Yishuji (1802)
惠氏校錄 Huishi Jiaolu
玉函山房輯 Yuhan Shanfang Ji

21570.92 琴操 lists the pieces (giving only "雜歌 za ge" for the last section, i.e., no mention of 河間/河閒 hejian or 雅歌 ya ge). There is some skepticism that any of the versions of Qin Cao surviving today actually date back to Cai Yong himself. Of this David R. Knechtges, Ancient and Early Medieval Chinese Literature, p.65, writes:

"Cai Yong was a skilled zither player.... He is attributed with the Qin cao 琴操 (Zither tunes), but some scholars have disputed his authorship. The monograph on bibliography in the Sui shu lists a Cai Yong ji 蔡邕集 (Collected works of Cai Yong) in twelve juan. It also notes that a Liang dynasty catalogue listed his collection in twenty juan with a one-juan table of contents. Cai’s collection seems to have survived into Song times. It is listed as a twenty-juan work in the Xin Tang shu. There was a printing of Cai’s collection by Ouyang Jing 歐陽靜 in the northern Song. This printing did not survive, but his preface, dated 1023 is included in later printings of Cai’s collection...."

This suggests that tracing the existing materials to before the Song dynasty will be very difficult. Could it also mean that the passage copied here from Taiyin Daquanji is an outline of some text connected only in some uncertain way to Cai Yong, but that was later expanded to form a work called "Qin Cao" and attributed to him?

2. The various 琴操 Qin Cao
Because in the materials referenced on this website there is so much mention of "Qin Cao" without further qualification, these references are not always clear. Since the most famous list called "Qin Cao" (whether it is the annotated version or not) is said to be by Cai Yong, there is a tendency simply to ascribe these references to his listing. The first problem with this is the fact that, as mentioned in the account above, there are at least two versions of the Qin Cao list attributed to Cai Yong (see in particular the two different Hejian sections). This issue is discussed further in this footnote.

In addition, there were also some early Qin Cao attributed to others. To my knowledge none of these now exists, in which case it is not possible to know whether these are the same Qin Cao but attributed to others, or are competing lists also called Qin Cao. Thus, for quotations simply attributed to a "Qin Cao", especially those that do not seem specifically to refer to either of the Cai Yong versions, one must consider that these quotations referred to the other books of that name. The ones known by name include,

  1. Qin Cao by Huan Tan (ca. 43 BCE - 28 CE; QSCM, #10)
  2. Qin Cao by 孔衍 Kong Yan (268 - 320; QSCM, #17)
  3. Qin Cao by two anonymous authors (QSCM, #18

In addition there are a number of collections of poetry or lyrics called Qin Cao. These include,

  1. Qin Cao by Han Yu (all set to music in (Taigu Yiyin)
  2. Qin Cao by various writers, collected in Qinshu Daquan, Folio 13, Part I.

In some cases it is not clear even whether "Qin Cao" is referring to the title of a list (annotated or not), or whether it simply means "a qin melody".

3.  Image: two editions of Qin Cao
This shows the short version plus the beginning of the long version.

Further detail in the next two footnotes.

4.  Early references to a Qin Cao by Cai Yong
To be added.

5.  Chu Xue Ji: Source of the melody list in Taiyin Daquanji?
This information comes from the thesis of
Tao Ran, which cites the original source of this list as a Tang dynasty publication by 徐堅 Xu Jian (659–729; Wiki) called 初學記 Chu Xue Ji([唐]徐堅:《初學記》卷十六《樂部》,中華書局,1962,第386頁。; text here copied from ctext, Folio 16). That chapter mentions Cai Yong several times and quotes a 琴賦 Rhapsody on the Qin attributed to him, but it does not seem directly to put his name on the list it has, in the first section, of a 琴操 Qin Cao (Qin Melodies). The list gives the content of Qin Cao is as follows (reformatted here):


Note that the last section is called Hejian Zage and its "21 melodies" are not named. In the next surviving occurrence they will be named but referred to as Hejian Yage. The title Hejian Zage does not seem to recur until the Qing dynasty editions.

6.  Qin Cao, Taiyin Daquanji edition
The top half of the image above (expanded; "強觧" [i.e., 強解] comes from the end of the "音釋" yinshi, translated there in two parts) is from a facsimile edition, but the same text can be found in Qin Fu p. 74 as well as QQJC I/26 (except that there the last section of Qin Cao melodies is called 河間雅歌 Hejian Yage instead of 河澗雜歌 Hejian Zage). In both cases the list is identified as from Qin Cao only at the end. Red marks have been added to show that statement as well as the headings for each group of pieces.

7.  Qing dynasty editions of Qin Cao attributed to Cai Yong
The Ming dynasty listing, as mentioned above, differs from the later editions in that the last section is called 河間雅歌 Hejian Yage rather than 河間雜歌 Hejian Zage. The earliest edition with 河間雜歌 Hejian Zage is apparently the one in the 讀畫齋叢書 Duhuazhai Congshu (1799), followed shortly by one in 漢魏遺書鈔 Han Wei Yishu Chao (1802). On this see further

8.  Qin Cao, Pingjin Guan edition
平津館叢書 Pingjin Guan Congshu (9371.241; compiled by 孫星衍 Sun Xingyan, 1753-1818) was published in the early 19th century but the date of works copied into the collection is not certain (www.chinaknowledge.de says some date from the Song dynasty). QSCM (which also includes other Qin Cao) has only an outline; I have seen two reprints of what is apparently the complete version of this edition:

  1. In Qinxue Congshu (1910), Folios 1 and 2 (QQJC XXX/17-30)
    Also in Tong Kin-Woon's Qin Fu, p.739 (p.746 begins the 河間雜歌 Hejian Zage; note however that for the Taigu Yin version Qin Fu p.74 has 河澗雅歌 for Hejian Yage).

  2. In 叢書集成初編 Congshu Jicheng Chubian, 中華書局, 1985, Vol. 1671.
    This edition has punctuation and some commentary (double-column) added.

Although all these extended editions of Cai Yong's Qin Cao apparently survive only because of their varying Qing dynasty versions, beginning around 1800, Qin Cao was mentioned or quoted enough in early sources that all these later works are commonly attributed directly to him. However, as can be seen from the above, the inconsistencies both in the titles and in the accompanying explanations (or lack thereof) makes it impossible to know what Cai Yong himself actually wrote.

9. Differences between the two versions
The upper image
top right shows the earlier version simply listing all the pieces, with almost all on one page; the image here shows that the list is preceded by yinshi commentary. By contrast, the image from the Pingjun Guan edition (lower image at top right) has not finished its commentary on the first piece by the end of the first page.

10. How old are the existing Qin Cao attributed to Cai Yong?
The first matter to address with this question is the fact of the two competing za ge.

12. Preface to the Revised Edition of Pingjin Guan (琴操校本序)
By 馬瑞辰 Ma Ruichen ca. 1777 - 1853; Bio/82. The text here begins (first 5 of 37 lines),


Colin Huehns translated the opening as follows,

‘There is not one single form to qin practice (“cao”); there are chang pieces and ge songs; in respect of shi poems, there are cao pieces and yin pieces, and all are encompassed by the generic term “cao”. Regarding pieces of the chang type, the term “chang” emphasizes their aspirational nature. Huan Tan in Xin lun: “The notion ‘connecting’ is to the benefit of the world, and there is nothing to which a progression is not made thereto.” Regarding pieces of the cao type, they exhibit moral principles. Xin lun: “Through the discipline of adversity comes the practice of solitary self-cultivation and in this way not losing moral principles thereto.”....

Translation copied from Brill.

13. Original Chinese of this Qin Cao Preface Head (琴操,平津館校本,序首; QQJC XXX/19)
It is not clear how much of the original text of this preface (translated above) might be found in souces earlier than the Qing dynasty editions. It is unclear whether or not there is any significance to the fact that, as with the Chu Xue Ji, it does not list the titles of the Heijian Zage.


The words translated here as "falsehood" and "low desires" are "邪 xie" (40180) and "淫 yin" (18095). According to 40180.44 "邪淫 xieyin" these were first brought together in Shi Ji, annals of Xia; but here they seem to be used separately, so was apparently later that they came to be used together as an expression for debauchery, the antithesis of the aims with guqin. In general, "邪淫 xieyin" seems to be the more common term, but it can also be written "淫邪 yinxie".

14. Van Gulik translated the beginning of this preface in Lore, p. 42.

15. Commentary on each melody
Some editions have different commentary. The Pingjin Guan edition is cited here as a readily available complete set.

16. 鹿鳴 Lu Ming: Deer Call
Mao#161; Seng, Most ancient;
Zha's Guide 30/237/444; 6 handbooks

17. 伐檀 Fa Tan: Chop Sandalwood
Mao#112 (坎坎伐檀兮,寘之河之干兮....); Seng, Most ancient. All set the lyrics
Zha's Index 39/267/553; 4 handbooks:

  1. 1744 (XVIII/260); 3 sections; jiaoyin
  2. 1864 (XXIV/268); 3 sections are not number; melody seems related though set very differently
  3. 1894 (XXVIII/252); similar again, closer to 1744?
  4. 1910 (XXX/206); "from 1744" (but first two notes are open 5th instead of 1st)

From 1910 there is a recording by Yang Baoyuan.

18. 騶虞 Zouyu: The Zouyu (a fabulous tiger)
Mao#25; Seng, Most ancient. Not in Zha's index

18. 鵲巢 Que Chao: Magpie's Nest
Mao#12; Seng, Most ancient.
Zha's Index 39/--/555; two handbooks, 1745 (XVI/361 & 369: only note names) and 1835
The Shi Jing poem has an allegory to a magpie raising a 鳩 cuckoo. The Qin Cao preface is missing.
No connection to Magpie Bridge (鵲橋 Que Qiao: see lyrics for Qing Ping Yue).

29. 白駒 Bai Ju (White Colt)
Mao#186; not in Seng. Not in Zha's index

21. Huailing Cao
This lament from Qin Cao, attributed here to Bo Ya (see under Gao Shan), may no longer exist, but the Song dynasty melody list Qin Shu: Qu Ming has the second version below as an alternate title for Gao Shan. Huai Ling has been written two ways.

  1. 壞陵(操) Ruined Mound (Lament). 5709.xxx, but 2/1241 壞陵 (no "cao") says it is the 12th of Cai Yong's Qin Cao. This title can be found, e.g., in Nandu Xinshu and Feng Ru Song Ge.

  2. 懷陵操 Cherished Mound Lament. Taiyin Daquanji and Qinxue Congshu (TKW, QF, p.739) both write Huai Ling Cao in this way. 7/790 has no 懷陵 huailing but 11716.117 huai ling says it is a grave name; this and the above-mentioned connection to Gao Shan lead one to speculate that the title refers to the grave of Bo Ya's qin friend Ziqi. However, there is no mention of a melody. Neither name is in Zha Fuxi's index of melodies in existing handbooks.

22. 河間雅歌 Hejian Yage versus 河間雜歌 Hejian Zage
ZWDCD has no 河間; its 17634 has only .153 河閒樂 Hejian Yue and I have not found other dictionary references. (I have also seen the hejian of 河間雜歌 written as 河澗 but 17634 has no 河澗.) Furthermore, as outlined above, after the listing surviving from the Ming dynasty Taigu Yiyin with its 21 Hejian Yage there seem to have been a variety of Qin Cao with longer commentary and for unknown reasons differing content of the "further pieces" of the fourth part, generally called "Hejian Zage".

It thus remains unclear why these two representative versions, as outlined here, have completely different content for the fourth part. It is also not clear why the various Za ge listings in the Qing dynasty editions such as those listed here, also have considerable differences. Nevertheless, those later Za ge listings seem to get a lot more attention than this earlier Ya ge list. For this I have not found an explanation (other than the later list is the one with explanations).

The 21 Hejian Yage titles are as follows:
(上古, 中古 and 下古 refer to the list of
Seng Juyue; there does not seem to be a version of this list with commentary)

    河間雅歌 Hejian Yage

  1. 蔡氏五弄 Cai Shi Wunong (Five melodies of the Cai Clan; see in 1511)
  2. 雙鳳     Shuang Feng (Paired Phoenixes; see Zhang Anshi [or Qing Anshi])
  3. 離鸞     Li Luan (Parting of the Fabulous Luan; see Zhang Anshi [or Qing Anshi])
  4. 歸鳳     Gui Feng (Returning Phoenix; see under the qin of Zhao He but compare 歸風 Returning Wind in the You Lan list, connected to Zhao Feiyan)
  5. 送遠     Song Yuan (Seen off to a Distant Place; see Zhao Feiyan)
  6. 幽蘭     You Lan (Solitary Orchid; 上古 ; in Jieshi mode?)
  7. 白雪     Bai Xue (White Snow; 上古 ; see in 1425; no Yang Chun!)
  8. 長清     Chang Qing (Long Clarity, 下古 ; see in 1425)
  9. 短清     Duan Qing (Short Clarity, 下古 ; see in 1425)
  10. 長側     Chang Ce (Long Slant; see in 1525)
  11. 短側     Duan Ce (Short Slant; 下古 see in 1525 )
  12. 清調     Qing Diao (Clear Tune; a YFSJ, melody type?)
  13. 大遁     Da Dun (Great Concealment; 5960.xxx)
  14. 小遊     Xiao You (Short Ramble; 7632.xxx)
  15. 明君     Ming Jun (see in YFSJ)
  16. 胡笳     Hu Jia (Barbarian Reedpipe; 中古 ; see in Da Hujia, etc.)
  17. 廣陵散 Guangling San (Guangling Melody; 下古 ; see in 1425. The Zage has Nie Zheng Ci Han Wang.)
  18. 白魚歎 Bai Yu Tan (White Fish Elegy; 23191.709xxx)
  19. 楚妃歎 Chu Fei Tan (Chu Concubine Elegy; 上古 ; see Fan Ji)
  20. 風入松 Feng Ru Song (Wind Enters the Pines; see in 1511)
  21. 烏夜啼 Wu Ye Ti (Evening Call of the Raven; 下古 ; see in 1425)

As mentioned above, the 21 (+3) Hejian Zage are almost completely different from these 21 Hejian Yage. One can speculate, perhaps based on the Tang dynasty Chu Xue Ji list, that these Ya Ge may have originally themselves been called Za Ge(or perhaps there was a mistake based on similarity of the characters 雅 and 雜). Unfortunately, that listing has no content. As yet I have not found any other lists called "Hejian Yage". And although the Hejian Yage list in Taiyin Daquanji says it is from Qin Cao, and just above it are also listed the contents of the first three sections (though with no mention of Cai Yong), there are no accounts of the content of the Ya Ge.

This thus contrasts with what is Qinxue Congshu Book I Parts 2, which has details of each Hejian Zage piece (details not yet online; it is also in Qin Fu, p. 739ff). All the later Qin Cao seem also to have this commentary, though its lists also differ.

Note that the 1525 commentary on You Lan (#6 in Hejian Yage) says it is included among 21 "雜弄 Zanong", making no mention of "Yage".

Commentary on melodies included in the
Pingjin Guan Book Collection edition of Qin Cao

(Compare the
1911 reprint in QQJC XXX/17 or Qin Fu / 739)


  1. (鹿鳴)
    《鹿鳴操》者,周大臣之所作也。王道衰,君志傾,留心聲色,內顧妃後,設旨酒嘉肴,不能厚養賢者,盡禮極歡,形見於色。大臣昭然獨見,必知賢士幽隱,小人在位,周道凌遲,必自是始。故彈琴以諷諫,歌以感之,庶幾可復。歌曰:「 呦呦鹿鳴,食野之蘋。我有嘉賓,鼓瑟吹笙。吹笙鼓簧,承筐是將。人之好我,示我周行。」 此言禽獸得美甘之食,尚知相呼,傷時在位之人不能,乃援琴而刺之,故曰《鹿鳴》也。

  2. (伐檀)

  3. (騶虞)

  4. (騶虞)

  5. (白駒)


  1. 將歸操

  2. (猗蘭操)



  3. (龜山操)

  4. (越裳操)



  5. (拘幽操)

  6. (岐山操)


  7. (履霜操)



  8. (雉朝飛操)


  9. (別鶴操)



  10. (殘形操)

  11. (水仙操)
    闕。 案事類賦樂部注引《樂府解題》,《水仙操》前段與此文略同下。

  12. (懷陵操)


  1. 列女引


  2. (伯姬引)

  3. (貞女引)



  4. (思歸引)



  5. (辟歷引)


  6. (走馬引)

  7. (箜篌引)



  8. (琴引)

  9. (楚引)


  1. (箕山操)



  2. (周太伯)

  3. (文王受命)

  4. (文王思士)

  5. (思親操 )

    深谷鳥鳴兮嚶嚶,設置張兮,思我父母 力耕。

  6. (周金滕)

  7. (儀鳳歌)


  8. (龍蛇歌)



  9. (芑梁妻歌)





  10. (崔子渡河操)

  11. (楚明光)

  12. (信立退怨歌,又名卞和


  13. (曾子歸耕)


  14. (梁山操)

  15. (諫不違歌)

  16. (莊周獨處吟,又名莊周)


  17. (孔子厄)

  18. (三士窮)

  19. (聶政刺韓王)

  20. (霍將軍歌)


  21. (怨曠思惟歌)



  22. (處女吟)

  23. (流澌咽)

  24. (雙燕離)

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