Chen Zhuo 陳拙
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Chen Zhuo
- Qin Shi #137
陳拙 1
琴史 #137 2
  Chen Zhuo's Fingering Explanations?3    
Chen Zhuo, literary name Daqiao, was a famous qin player and commentator at the end of the Tang dynasty (early 10th century). His biography below mentions melodies he learned, passed on and/or transcribed, but it does not specify that he created any of them himself. And although they exist on ancient lists and some titles have surviving versions, there is no reliable way to connect the surviving versions with the content of the ancient titles.

As for his writings, Qinshu Cunmu credits him with four books:

  1. 琴籍,九卷 Qin Ji (Qin Record, 9 volumes)
  2. 大唐正聲新扯琴譜,十卷 Datang Zhengsheng Xinche Qinpu (Tablature with New Comments on Correct Sounds of the Great Tang, 10 volumes)
  3. 補新徵音,一卷 Buxin Zhiyin (Revised zhi mode [pieces? theory?], one volume)
  4. 琴法數勾剔譜 Qin Fa Shu Gouti Pu (Qin techniques: symbols for stroke techniques)

However, his surviving writings (details 4) are to be found only in later compendia. Thus the surviving works are (in all or in part),

  1. Qin Ji (Qin Record, just listed above); a collection of explanations and commentary on playing qin
    Included in several places within the Ming dynasty compendium Qinqu Jicheng, but especially Folio 8 (V/162-175; the image at right shows the beginning)
  2. Qinpu Zongshuo (General Comments on Qin-related Material); two brief excerpts, Qin Commentary, by Military Official Chen Zhuo (text) and Confucius' Household Sayings, plus several illustrations.
    Included in the Song dynasty compendium called Shilin Guangji

There are some details of Chen's life in the essay below. Those details are also outlined in Xu Jian's Introductory History of the Qin, p.57 (中文). There it says he worked in the "京兆戸曹 Jingzhao Hucao" - the Revenue Department of Chang'an - but he is also referred to as 陳拙參軍 Chen Zhuo Canjun. "Canjun" should mean he was an administrator in a military district (Kroll).

Xu Jian's Outline History, Chapter 5. A. (pp.57-8) also comments briefly on the particular importance of Chen Zhuo's explanations of finger techniques. He then comments on them further in Chapter 5. C. (pp.76-7), though see in particular this footnote.

The fingering explanations are also mentioned by Wang Shixiang in his essay on Guangling San.

The biography of Chen's qin teacher Sun Xiyu says Sun refused to teach Guangling San to Chen, burning the tablature so Chen couldn't learn it himself.

The original text from Qin Shi is almost identical to that of the Chen Zhuo entry in Qinshu Daquan (QQJC IV/332), as follows,

陳拙字大巧,長安人也。授《南風》,《遊春》,《文王操》,《鳳歸林》於孫希裕。 傳《秋思》於張戀。學《止息》於梅復元。嘗更古譜,錄《南風》、《文王操》二弄。 曰「琴操,雖多制從高士聖君所作,二弄獨存,竊慮其頓墜也。」又作《正聲新址》,未見完本。 嘗云:「彈操弄音,前綬後急者,妙曲之分布也;或中急而後緩者,即奏之停歌也。 疾打之聲,齊於破竹;緩挑之韻,穆若生風。 亦有聲正厲而遽止,響已絕而意存者。 前輦妙手每授一弄,師有明約,竭豈一升,標為偏數。 其勒如此,而後有得也。」拙為京兆戶曹。

Not yet translated.

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. 陳拙,字大巧 Bio xxx.

2. 9 lines

3. Chen Zhuo's Fingering Explanations
Copied from Qinqu Jicheng V/162/3. The complete text, pp.162-179, is on this pdf (earlier edition, pp.160-177).

4. Chen Zhuo's surviving writings English ToC for Qin Treatise, an Exigesis   (中文)      
The following book, the content of which is outlined in the ToC at right, is a presentation and analysis of Chen Zhuo's Qin Ji, but it also has a chapter (pp. 35-40) entitled "Tang, Song and Yuan dynasty citation of Chen Zhuo".

楊元錚:琴籍義證 Yang Yuanzheng, Qin Ji Yi Zheng (Qin Treatise: An Exigesis), 北京文化藝術出版社,2020.

In addition to these publications we have surviving from Ming dynasty a number of finger technique explanations credited to qin masters of the late Tang and early Song dynasties. Much of this is outlined on this website (e.g., here) but I have not made many careful comparisons. It does seem likely that if a useful list does get published it is then copied and perhaps edited by others. This can be particularly confusing when two players have very similar names. This seems to be the case with Chen Zhuo and Chen Kangshi. Thus the early compendium Taiyin Daquanji has finger techniques (especially shorthand forms?) attributed to "陳居士 Chen Jushi": Master Chen, apparently referring to Chen Kangshi, not Chen Zhuo.

Getting back to Professor Yang's book, it has a number of explanatory essays (all in Chinese) plus nine facsimile copies of texts attributed to Chen Zhuo. These are basically from the two sources listed above. Thus it has two versions of the most important work, 琴籍 Qin Ji (Qin Record). One is from 大明永樂琴書集成 Da Ming Yongle Qinshu Jicheng, the other from 琴曲集成 Qinqu Jicheng.

One focus of the commentary is trying to put Qin Ji in the order in which it might originally have been published. Because Qinshu Daquan apparently arranged its entries so as to fit in with other items in that collection (see Qinqu Jicheng, Volume 5, Table of Contents), the order is different. So the following is put here to compare the order in Yang's edition with the page numbers from Volume V of Qinqu Jicheng:

  Yang p# QQJC V/p#  ; T=top, B=bottom; L=left, R=right
    Facs. 2:  
    221-2 103T           (陳拙琴書曰:斲制者....)
    223-4 119TL, BR (張越琴....陳拙琴書曰:斲琴者蜀有雷....)
    225-6 131T           (明徽暗徽法,陳拙琴籍)
    227-8 145TL-BR   (陳拙絃論:五弦者始自神農....)
    229 147TL          (唐陳拙合絃法:禹貢云厥篚檿....)
    230-280 162B-175TR(唐陳拙指法.... ?: missing from "彈琴用指" to p. 179 top?
    281-2 332B            (陳拙:陳拙字大巧....)
    Facs. 3:  
    285-7 96BL-97T   (琴制); 132TL (琴暉: see 樂書 near middle); not 琴勢? ("古者手勢....")

Facsimiles four to nine all have material as in Shilin Guangji. For three examples compare the following:

  Yang p# QQJC I/17  ; T=top, B=bottom; L=left, R=right
    Facs. 4:  
    291 家語云.... 17 (家語云....)
    292 陳拙參軍琴說.... 17TR ( 陳拙參軍琴說 ....)
    Facs. 6:  
    299-300 家語云.... 17TL (see image)

Two titles are mentioned that sound as though they could be separate works, 樂書 Yue Shu and 琴說 Qin Shuo. Is Yue Shu part of an edition of 琴籍 Qin Ji that I have not yet seen, or might it have been an independent book? Does the Chen Zhuo material in Shilin Guangji come from a longer work by Chen Zhuo called 琴說 Qin Shuo? This seems unlikely, as neither title is found in Qinshu Cunmu list. Could the latter have been part of one of the other works listed there?

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