Qin Shi Chubian 6B - Introduction to Gu Yuan 
 T of C 
Qin as
Qin in
/ Song
Analysis History Ideo-
Personal email me search me
QSCB : Song/Yuan    melodies    /     previous   /   next 首頁
Chapter Six: Song and Yuan dynasties 1  
Xu Jian, Introductory History of the Qin, pp. 108-9

6.B.7. Qin Melodies : Melody Introductions 2  

7. Ancient Lament (Gu Yuan) 3  



The composer, Jiang Kui (c. 1155-1221 CE), style name Yaozhang, nickname Baishi, was from Poyang in (what is today) Jiangxi Province. He took the imperial examinations many times without success, spending his entire life living as a guest of wealthy families, traveling about amongst the homes of government officials. He excelled at poetry and music, and was a representative ci master of the southern Song dynasty School of Poetic Meter (Gelü pai; also called the Delicately Restrained School [Wanyue Pai]). Among his Songs of the Whitestone Daoist Baishi Daoren Gequ) are 17 songs he himself composed, with gongche number notation attached. Gu Yuan is the only one with the finger techniques of qin tablature attached; it is also the earliest surviving song tablature for a qin song. Songs of the Whitestone Daoist supply us with very valuable materials: the only surviving Song dynasty songs. Jiang Kui's compositions are famous as "清妙秀遠 clear beautiful elegant distant", but because they excessively strived for a strict metrical style the contents were often slipped into a sort of 柔弱空泛 delicate emptiness. This piece, Gu Yuan, uses a 佳人 beautiful woman on hard luck and a 美人 virtuous person past his prime to lament the inconstancy of the current situation.

"Eyes filled with rivers and mountains, tears moisten my sandals."

This subtly reveals a concern for the perils of the nation's affairs. The whole piece has three sections.4 The first two have similar preludes.5 The second section has quite a few non-pentatonic tones,6 adding and emotional mode that lingers in sad emotions. The lyrics are attached to the whole piece in a very appropriate manner.

(The essay ends with a transcription of the entire melody from the original qin tablature, omitted here. I have done my own transcription of this melody, as well as a recording online [see link at top]. My own selection of note values/rhythms is quite different from those of Xu Jian and others. I also have some differences in intepreting the pitches.)

(Continue with Huangying Yin)

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Chapter 6 covers these dynasties (dates, capital city [modern name]):

Northern Song (960-1126; Dongjing [Kaifeng])
Liao (907-1125; Dading Fu [Daning?])
Southern Song (1127-1280; Linan Fu [Hangzhou])
Jin (1115-1260; Zhongdu [Beijing])
Yuan (1206-1280-1368; Dadu [Beijing])

2. Translation by JT.

3. Ancient Lament (古怨 Gu Yuan)
More information as well as links to further references are included with my own separate page about this melody.

4. Number of Sections in Gu Yuan
In the original tablature in QQJC I/7-9 the sections are not numbered. There seem to be four, with the second one called "harmonics". The melody in harmonics is almost identical to the melody preceding it, so Xu Jian (and others) often consider these two as one section.

5. 前兩段有相同的前奏。 I am not sure to what this refers.

6. Mode of Gu Yuan
By my interpretation the melody throughout seems to be mostly heptatonic, with flatted ti as well as do re mi sol la. There are other tones scattered throughout the piece, with one particular concentration in the second phrase of what Xu Jian refers to as Section 2 but which is Section 3 in my transcription. These are all connected to the text "過金谷兮花謝".

Return to the top or to Song-Yuan in the Qinshi Chubian outline.