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Lao Ba Zhang: The "Eight CD Set of Old Recordings"1 老八張
"A Collection of music played on the guqin"; with old and new commentary 中國音樂大全:古琴
  The original 8 CDs (compare new set from Taobao) 2      
These 8 CDs contain 53 performances by 22 qin masters; they were recorded in the 1950s during a project carried out by Zha Fuxi (1895-1976) through what is now the Chinese National Academy of Arts.3 Over the years a number of these were made into phonograph discs by China Records, but they did not become generally available until the present 8 CD-set was released in 1994. 4 According to the published report, in 1955 they made in all 262 recordings of 86 players. However, the Chinese National Academy of Arts project seems to have continued after that, as the later collection called 絲桐神品 Sitong Shenpin includes (apparently from this project) 274 recordings of 72 players, and commentary with 絕響 Jue Xiang refers to even more recordings in the collection of the Chinese National Academy of Arts, though it is not clear how many of these could be part of the Zha Fuxi project.

While working at Radio Television Hong Kong in the early 1980s I came across some open reel tapes of recordings from this project that apparently had been copied from the National Academy of Music. These included a number of recordings that later came out in the set of 8 CDs that became known as "Lao Ba Zhang".5

The 8 CDs, each entitled "Guqin Collection #....(1 to 8), were part of a series called 中國音樂大全 An Anthology of Chinese Traditional and Folk Music, which also had music from other Chinese instruments. Each CD came with an 8 page booklet containing a Preface by 劉森民 Liu Senmin and Editor's comments by 王迪 Wang Di. These were the same for all 8 CDs, but then each CD had a brief introduction to each of its pieces.

Further commentary

Some time after the original publication of the 8 CDs an extensive commentary on these melodies became available. I have only seen this online so do not yet know if it was made for a re-issue of the CDs. In the commentary the text formatting is rather minimal (done by optical scanning of a hard copy?). Much of that text is simply copied from the Zha Guide, which in turn mostly consists of quotes from the original handbooks.

On the other hand, with a number of the melodies there is additional commentary of considerable interest. (further comment.)

In contrast the 30 CD set 絲桐神品 Sitong Shenpin, though it gives no commentary on individual melodies, does give introductions to all the included players. These are attached there via two pdf files.

老八張目錄 Content of the "Eight CD Set of Old Recordings"
Player list; compare the 30 CD 絲桐神品 Sitong Shenpin and the 74 CD 絕響 Jue Xiang
A personal list: the set itself had no general ToC.

Guqin Collection #1: Guan Pinghu
Carol CCD 94/342
(China Records, 1994)
  (Jieshidiao) You Lan (碣石調)幽蘭 (古逸叢書 ) 10.34
  Li Sao 離騷(神奇秘譜) 10.20
  Guangling San 廣陵散(神奇秘譜) 22.32

Guqin Collection #2:* Wu Jinglue
古琴卷二:* 吳景略
Carol CCD 94/343
(China Records, 1994)
  Yang Chun 陽春(松弦館琴譜) 7.06
  Mozi Bei Si 墨子悲絲(五知齋琴、自遠堂琴譜) 8.40
  Xiao Xiang Shui Yun 瀟湘水雲(五知齋琴譜) 8.03
  Wu Ye Wu Qiu Feng 梧葉舞秋風(琴學入門) 3.30
  Yi Guren 憶故人(今虞琴刊) 6.57
  Qiusai Yin (1722) 秋塞吟( 五知齋琴譜) 6.59
  Yu Qiao Wenda 漁樵問答(琴學入門) 7.00

Guqin Collection #3: Zha Fuxi (3), Zhang Ziqian (2), Liu Jingshao (1) and Zhan Chengqiu (1)

Carol CCD 94/344
(China Records, 1994)
  Dongting Qiusi (Zha Fuxi) 洞庭秋思(琴書大全:查阜西) 3.23
  Changmen Yuan (Zha Fuxi) 長門怨(梅庵琴譜:查阜西) 5.44
  Yu Ge (Zha Fuxi) 漁歌(自遠堂琴譜:查阜西) 16.23
  Meihua Sannong (Zhang Ziqian) 梅花三弄(蕉庵琴譜:張子謙) 8.11
  Longxiang Cao (Zhang Ziqian) 龍翔操(蕉庵琴譜:張子謙) 4.53
  Qiao Ge (Liu Shaochun, not Liu Jingshao?) 樵歌(蕉庵琴譜:劉少椿,不是劉景韶) 9.19
  Tingquan Yin (Zhan Chengqiu) 聽泉引(大還閣琴譜:詹澄秋) 1.28

Guqin Collection #4: Guan Pinghu
Carol CCD 94/345
(China Records, 1994)
  Liu Shui 流水(天聞閣琴譜) 7.36
  Ao Ai 欸乃(天聞閣琴譜) 12.36
  Hujia Shibapai 胡笳十八拍(五知齋琴譜) 19.45

Guqin Collection #5: Yao Bingyan (5) and Pu Xuezhai (4)

Carol CCD 94/346
(China Records, 1994)
  Gao Shan (Yao Bingyan, from Qinxue Rumen) 高山(琴學入門:姚丙炎彈) 8.03
  Huaxu Yin (Yao Bingyan, from SQMP) 華胥引(神奇秘譜:姚丙炎彈) 2.14
  Jiu Kuang (Yao Bingyan, from SQMP) 酒狂(神奇秘譜:姚丙炎彈) 2.21
  Da Hujia (Yao Bingyan, SQMP 大胡笳(神奇秘譜:姚丙炎彈) 12.56   聽 listen
  Chu Ge (Yao Bingyan, SQMP 楚歌(神奇秘譜:姚丙炎彈) 4.09
  Liangxiao Yin (Pu Xuezhai) 良宵引(五知齋琴譜:溥雪齋彈) 2.15
  Oulu Wang Ji (Pu Xuezhai) 鷗鷺忘機(自遠堂琴譜:溥雪齋彈) 4.09
  Meihua Sannong1820 but no xiao; "Pu Xuezhai" [? seems to be Wu Jinglue]6 梅花三弄("琴簫合譜":溥雪齋【好像是吳景略) 7.38   聽 listen
  Pu'an Zhou (Pu Xuezhai) 普庵咒(抄本琴譜:溥雪齋彈) 7.12

Guqin Collection #6: Yue Ying (Yue Ying) (4), Yang Baoyuan (4), Xia Yifeng (1) and Cheng Wujia (1)

古琴卷六﹕樂瑛(4)、楊葆元(4)、 夏一峰(1)、程午加(1)
Carol CCD 94/347
(China Records, 1994)
  Weibian Sanjue (Yue Ying; comment; listen as Kongzi Du Yi) 韋編三絕(抄本琴譜:樂瑛) 2.50
  Canghai Longyin (Yue Ying) 滄海龍吟(琴譜諧聲:樂瑛彈) 5.32
  Yueyang San Zui (Yue Ying) 岳陽三醉(琴學入門:樂瑛彈) 8.58
  Liezi Yu Feng (Yue Ying) 列子御風(抄本琴譜:樂瑛彈) 6.56
  Lu Ming (Yang Baoyuan; compare Jin Zhiqi, Gao Zhongjun) 鹿鳴(琴學叢書琴譜:楊葆元) 2.51   聽 listen
  Fa Tan (Yang Baoyuan; only here) 伐檀(琴學叢書:楊葆元彈) 2.30   聽 listen
  Gui Qu Lai Ci (Yang Baoyuan) 歸去來辭(琴學叢書琴:楊葆元彈) 4.19   聽 listen
  Pingsha Luo Yan (Yang Baoyuan) 平沙落雁(琴學叢書琴:楊葆元彈) 7.32
  Jing Guan Yin (Xia Yifeng) 靜觀吟(抄本琴譜:夏一峰彈) 3.18
  Qiujiang Yebo (Cheng Wujia; note pitch) 秋江夜泊(梅庵琴譜:程午加彈) 3.00

Guqin Collection #7: Wu Zhaoji (3+1), Zhan Chengqiu (0), Gu Meigeng (1) and Xu Lisun (1)

古琴卷七﹕ 吳兆基(3+1)(詹澄秋(0)、顧梅羹(1)、徐立孫(1)
Carol CCD 94/348
(China Records, 1994)
  Sao Shou Wen Tian ( = Shuixian Cao; Wu Zhaoji) 搔首問天(水仙操)(五知齋琴譜:吳兆基彈) 9.50
  Yu Ge (Wu Zhaoji) 漁歌(五知齋琴譜:吳兆基彈) 14.30
  Shishang Liu Quan (Wu Zhaoji, not Zhan Chengqiu?) 石上流泉(玉鶴軒琴譜:吳兆基彈-不是詹澄秋) 4.12   聽 listen)
  Yi Guren (Wu Zhaoji) 憶故人(今虞琴刊:吳兆基彈) 7.59
  Liu Shui (Gu Meigeng) 流水(天聞閣琴譜:顧梅羹彈) 7.22
  Dao Yi (Xu Lisun; Meian version) 搗衣(梅庵琴譜:徐立孫彈) 5.22

Guqin Collection #8: Yang Xinlun (1), Shen Caonong (1), Long Qinfang (1), Hou Zuowu (1), Yu Shaoze (1), Guan Zhonghang (1) and Wei Zhongle (2)

古琴卷八﹕楊新倫(1)、沈草農(1)、龍琴舫(1)、 侯作吾(1)、喻紹澤(1)、關仲航(1)和衛仲樂(2)
Carol CCD 94/348
(China Records, 1994)
  Wu Ye Ti (Yang Xinlun) 烏夜啼(琴說:楊新倫彈) 6.49
  Pingsha Luo Yan (Shen Caonong; from Pei Jieqing?) 平沙落雁 ("裴介卿):沈草農彈) 4.22   聽 listen
  Dao Yi (Long Qinfang; by 錢壽占( Qian Shouzhan; unrelated to Meian version) 搗衣(梅庵琴譜!:龍琴舫彈) 6.41
  Gaoshan Liushui (Hou Zuowu; see 1876?) 高山流水(天聞閣琴譜:侯作吾彈) 8.03
  Pei Lan (Yu Shaoze; from 1744; XVIII/231) 佩蘭(春草堂琴譜:喻紹澤彈) 8.10
  Yu Qiao Wenda (Guan Zhonghang) 漁樵問答(琴學叢書琴譜:關仲航彈) 7.51
  Zui Yu Chang Wan (Wei Zhongle) 醉漁唱晚(李子昭傳譜:衛仲樂彈) 3.40
  Liu Shui (Wei Zhongle) 流水(琴學入門:衛仲樂彈) 5.39

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. 老八 Lao Ba Zhang
This always seems to be the title used in Chinese, though it also seems to be an informal title that began a few years after the original set of CDs came out in 1994. Before that, to the extent that these recordings were commercially available, they were sold as phonograph records.

2. Image: the 8 CD set
Each CD from this original set came with an 8 page booklet containing a Preface by 劉森民 Liu Senmin and Editor's comments by 王迪 Wang Di. These were the same for all 8 CDs, but then each CD had a brief introduction to each of its pieces. In contrast there seems to be a longer booklet (I have not seen a hard copy) with more detailed commentary, though the great majority of it seems to be information simply repeated from Zha Fuxi's Guide. The content of the newer booklet seems to have images as well as the text included in this file.

This original set of separate CDs seems no longer to be available. Some people have said that there have been quality control issues with some of the re-issues, but I do not know the details of this.

3. The Chinese National Academy of Arts (中國藝術研究院)
The project was actually carried out by the Music Resarch Institute, which was merged with other institutes in 1980 to form the CNAA. See further details on this here.

4. The project of the Chinese National Academy of Arts
More on the academy here. Note that although Lao Ba Zhang includes only a fraction of the recordings made during this project, and many fewer than 絲桐神品 Sitong Shenpin or 絕響 Jue Xiang, it does have some music that is not in those larger collections.

For two examples of recordings that are only in the Lao Ba Zhang see the sixth of the eight CDs, which includes these two recordings by 楊葆元 Yang Baoyuan:

I have not yet exhaustively searched for others.

5. Another early set of recordings from the project (see Appendix 2: Seven cassettes)
Separate from the recordings on these 8 CDs, some time in the 1980s a group of Hong Kong guqin players went to examine the old recordings (at the 中央音樂學院 Central Music Research Institute?) and came away with a set of open-reel recordings, one set of which was given to Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK). From these recordings I obtained 7 cassettes.

It is my understanding that these recordings were not collected with reference to the 8 CD set, which in fact had not yet been published. It is thus particularly interesting that most but not all of these recordings were later included in the 8 CDs. Some of the pieces do not seem to occur on any of the standard collections of old CDs. Some of them may also be different versions of these. However, timings on the cassette recordings being different from those on the CD recordings does not prove they are different recordings - it could be due to the relative speeds of the various recording devices.

6. Meihua Sannong recording attributed to Pu Xuezhai (compare with this one!)
Compare the recording linked above with the transcriptions (both by 許健 Xu Jian) in 琴曲集成 Qinqu Jicheng/1:

Both are said to be transcriptions of performances from 琴簫合譜 Qin Xiao He Pu (1820; QQJC XX/123). However, if one compares the above recording with these two transcriptions one can see that the transcription of Wu Jinglue's performance adds flourishes (see, e.g., the 16th notes in the middle of line three of the Wu Jinglue transcription and compare that with the flourish in the recording at 00.35). The flourish here is in fact a 立 (撞) that Wu seems to have added (it is not in the original 1820 tablature) and so Xu Jian has transcribed. This flourish (and others) are in the recording but not the in transcription of Pu Xuezhai's performance. Thus it seems either that the attribution of the recording to Pu Xuezhai is incorrect, or the transcriptions got switched.

For a solo performance of Meihua Sannong by Pu Xuezhai dated 1956 see here.

Appendix: List of performers on 老八張 Lao Ba Zhang
The 22 qin players recorded in the present set are as follows (the original set had no such list so one has been created here; compare the same for
絲桐神品 Sitong Shenpin and 絕響 Jue Xiang).

These 22 qin players' names are arranged alphabetically by pinyin spelling. All are also included amongst the 72 players recorded in Sitong Shenpin as well as among the 78 in Jue Xiang. I have not yet studied whether the melodies there with the same title and same performer are also the same exact recording as here.

  1. 程午加 Cheng Wujia* 1
  2. 顧梅羹 Gu Meigeng 1
  3. 管平湖 Guan Pinghu 6
  4. 關仲航 Guan Zhonghang 1
  5. 侯作吾 Hou Zuowu 1
  6. 劉景韶 Liu Jingshao 1
  7. 龍琴舫 Long Qinfang 1
  8. 溥雪齋 Pu Xuezhai 4
  9. 沈草農 Shen Caonong 1
  10. 衛仲樂 Wei Zhongle 2
  11. 吳景略 Wu Jinglue 7
  12. 吳兆基 Wu Zhaoji 3
  13. 夏一峰 Xia Yifeng 1
  14. 顧梅羹 Xu Lisun 1
  15. 楊葆元 Yang Baoyuan 4
  16. 楊新倫 Yang Xinlun 1
  17. 姚丙炎 Yao Bingyan 5
  18. 喻紹澤 Yu Shaoze 1
  19. 樂瑛     Yue Ying (not "Le Ying") 4
  20. 查阜西 Zha Fuxi 3
  21. 詹澄秋 Zhan Chengqiu 2
  22. 張子謙 Zhang Ziqian 2

Appendix 2: Contents of the seven cassettes
Made in Hong Kong from
tapes kept at the Central Music Research Institute

These are as follows (timings not all completed):


01. 古琴曲集第一

1.   關平湖   幽蘭   10.23
2.   關平湖   獲鱗   03.56
3.   關平湖   陽春   06.50
4.   吳景略   陽春   05.45
5.   關平湖   白雪   04.45
6.   侯作吾   高山流水   07:40
7.   姚丙炎   高山   07:48
8.   顧梅羹   流水   07:07
9.   衛仲樂   醉漁唱晚   03:30


02. 古琴曲集第二

1.   管平湖   流水   08:
2.   管平湖   廣陵散   22:
3.   陳長齡   龍翔操   08:45
4.   管平湖   長清   06:47
5.   姚丙炎   華胥引   01:59
6.   夏蓮居   風入松   02:24
7.   姚丙炎   酒狂   02:12
8.   溥雪齋   酒狂   01:30/


03. 古琴曲集第三

1.   吳景略   梅花三弄   07:34
2.   溥雪齋   梅花三弄   07:36
3.   張子謙   梅花三弄   08:10
4.   管平湖   烏夜啼   06:40
5.   楊新倫   烏夜啼   08:32
6.   汪孟舒   清夜吟   02:54
7.   查阜西   陽關三疊   05:03
8.   姚丙炎   大胡笳   12:50


04. 古琴曲集第四

1.   徐立蓀   搗衣   05:13
2.   查阜西   漁樵問答   07:22
3.   關仲航   漁樵問答   07:35
4.   劉景韶   樵歌   08:20
5.   衛仲樂   醉漁唱晚  
6.   管平湖   秋鴻     22:00     +3:50
7.   衛仲樂   醉漁唱晚   03:30


05. 古琴曲集第五

1.   查阜西   漁歌     15:57
2.   吳景略   漁樵問答   06:54
3.   吳景略   瀟湘水雲   07:46
4.   樂琰       列子御風   06:40
5.   楊新倫   歸去來辭   04:08
6.   查阜西   蘇武思君   05:12 (琴歌)
7.   查阜西   洞庭秋思   03:08
8.   查阜西   慨古吟   02:50(琴歌)
9.   詹澂秋   听泉吟   01:26
10. 張子謙   龍翔操   04:40


06. 古琴曲集第六

1.   楊葆元   平沙落雁  
2.   沈草農   平沙落雁   4:05
3.   溥雪齋   鷗鷺忘機  
4.   樂瑛       滄海龍
5.   溥雪齋   普庵咒
6.   樂瑛       岳陽三醉   8:54
7.   吳景略   墨子悲思   8:09


07: 古琴曲集第七

1.   徐元白   墨子悲思  
2.   楊葆元   鹿鳴      
3.   楊葆元   代檀      
4.   吳景略   梧喋舞秋風  
5.   楊新倫   碧澗流泉  
6.   吳景略   憶故人  
7.   樂瑛       韋編三絕  
8.   管平湖   風雷引  
9.   查阜西   長門怨  
10. 關平湖   四大景  
11. 龍琴舫   搗衣      
12. ?

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