Qin Shi Chubian 6C8: Zhao Xikuang, Lun Tan Qin
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Chapter Six: Song and Yuan dynasties 1
Xu Jian, Introductory History of the Qin, pp. 120-1

6.C. Qin Essays 2

8. Zhao Xikuang,3, Lun Tan Qin (Discussing Qin Play) 4



Zhao Xikuang's discourse is seen in Qinshu Daquan (see original). The essay suggests,5

"Students of this generation devote themselves to raucous sounds, or they only take notice of written tablature."

These two types of tendencies prompted him to express this opinion. "Devote themselves to raucous sounds" means they only sang songs and ignored finger technique, and so it was easy to "become different and abnormal, discarding the old as too remote;" they studied outlandish things, to the extent that "they forgot the real significance of the ancients." "Only taking notice of written tablature" meant that they only played according to the finger techniques given in the tablature, having no concept of the melody in their heads. This allowed them, "Muddying at once the effects, to make no sense",6 the performance being awkward and stiff, completely without meaning or attraction. Regarding this he maintained that,7 "Make raucous sounds, copy the tablature, the ears cannot accept one but reject the other." At the same time, he still recommended the tablature passed on by (the monk) Zequan. And the performance of Huang Dazhong8acted as models for study. This is an analysis made in opposition to practical problems arising in studying the qin, and not the same as ordinary empty talk.

Further regarding performance, in the Yuan dynasty there was also "Qin Discussion, Ten rules" by Wu Cheng.9 It laid out 10 performance rules, mainly reiterating what was described by Xie Yijian of the Tang dynasty,10 so it is not introduced here (see the first edition of Congshu Jicheng11).

(Continue with next, Biluozi, Zhuo Qin Fa and others)

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]) (Return)

2. Translation by JT incomplete

3. Zhao Xikuang 趙希曠
There seems to be nothing about Zhao other than what is in his two publications: Discussing Qin Play (論彈琴 Lun Tan Qin; see next), and Qin Finger Techniques (琴指法 Qin Zhifa; see Qinshu Cunmu #128)

4. Discussing Qin Play (論彈琴 Lun Tan Qin)
I have seen two versions of this:

  1. In Qinshu Daquan, Folio 10 (QQJC I/202)
    The more complete version, with two paragraphs
  2. In Taiyin Daquanji, Folio 4 (QQJC I/72)
    One of four articles with the same title, it has only the first paragraph)

The first paragraph of 論彈琴 Lun Tan Qin is in both editions, as follows,


The second paragraph, which is only in the version in Qinshu Daquan, Folio 10 (QQJC I/202), begins (and ends) as follows:


More of the text from the second paragraph is quoted below.

5. 近世學者專務喝聲,或只按書譜。

6. 泥輒蹟而不通。

7. 喝聲、按譜,耳目不可偏廢。

8. Huang Dazhong 黃大中
Huang Dazhong (48904.xxx; 大中 5960.121xxx) is mentioned in Zhao Xikuang's text; see QQJC V/202, bottom left line 1. The text there says, 莫如道錄黃大中 no one is as good as Daoist registrar Huang Dazhong. (For daolu: 10/1086 道錄 says "Daoist registrar", perhaps suggesting he worked in the Central Daoist Registry [道錄司 Daolu Si]). I have found no further references to him elsewhere.

9. Wu Cheng 吳澄 (1249-1331; Wiki)
Wu Cheng, style name 幼清 Youqing, was a well-known Confucian scholar, educator and poet during the Yuan dynasty. Van Gulik calls him Wu Chen.

Qin Discussion, Ten rules (琴言十則 Qin Yan Shi Ze, by Wu Cheng 吳澄
See Qinshu Cunmu #150. The 10 rules have been translated in Van Gulik, Lore, pp. 73-6. (Also in Qin Fu.)

10. Qin play rules of 薛易簡 Xue Yijian
I have not yet seen these listed, but there is a discussion of some of the rules in the discussion of Xue Yijian in QSCB, Chapter 5a.

11. Congshu Jicheng Chubian 叢書集成初編
This probably refers to the 初編 first edition of 琴曲集成 Qinqu Jicheng. However, it is also not clear whether this reference is to the rules of Wu Cheng or those of Xue Yijian, for which see previous footnotes.

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