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Jing Guan Yin
The poem by Chengzi
This short instrumental melody, usually in three sections, was once very popular, in particular during the Qing dynasty.4
After the earliest surviving publication here in 1579, it survives in at least five more Ming dynasty handbooks; it can then be found in at least 29 Qing dynasty handbooks, the last dated 1899
. And a comparison of the opening of the earliest versions suggests that it may have inspired, or otherwise had some connection to, at least the opening phrases of the melody Ting Qin Yin
, which survives first from the 1589 edition of Zhenchuan Zhengzong Qinpu
There is no commentary with this 1579 version, but its third surviving publication (the 1609 edition of Zhenchuan Zhengzong Qinpu) connects the melody to the Song dynasty Confucian scholar Cheng Hao (referred to only as Chengzi).6
Specifically it quotes a couplet from a poem attributed to Cheng Hao, the full text of which is used as lyrics for the melody
Ou Cheng. The couplet is:7
All things in a contemplative manner attain what they need;
In all seasons their beauty flourishes, just as with people.
In other words, people can achieve what they need simply by having the same contemplative manner that one finds throughout nature.
Starting with 1722 Jing Guan Yin is more commonly associated with the Tang dynasty scholar
Li Mian.8 However, this does not significantly alter the commentators' understanding of the mood of this piece. In the 1722 introduction the mood is described as follows:9
All the phrases are beautiful in their soft purity. The second section (in harmonics) has the sound of discussing a life of leisure combined with the flavor of quietude. Although the melody is short its meaning is grand. Play it on a quiet evening and it will itself point out how to achieve this.
Meanwhile, the introduction to a recording by
Xia Yifeng of this melody says as follows:10
The legend goes that this piece of music was composed by Li Mian of the Tang dynasty. The music illustrates that one will naturally identify the essence of things by observing them calmly and objectively. This small piece, tranquil and simple, expresses the artistic conception of "observing calmly".
The fourth surviving publication of Jing Guan Yin comes from Songxianguan Qinpu (1614), the earliest handbook of the very popular
Yushan school, and this probably helps account for its later popularity.11 Later versions seem largely to be elaborations of 1614, adding mostly ornamentation.
At least three silk string recordings have been made: in addition to the one by Xia Yifeng (#9), mentioned above, there are also ones by Wang Duo (#2) based on the 1614 version12 and by Muka Fushimi based on the one in Chengyitang Qinpu (1705).13
Original preface 14
00.00 Section 1 (compare the opening of Ting Qin Yin; 1589)
Music (transcription from IV/209; timings follow my recording
15; there are also three others16)
Three Sections, untitled, plus coda.
00.45 Section 2 (in harmonics)
00.56 (Section 3 in some later versions)
01.32 Section 3 (in some later versions Section 4)
02.17 Harmonic Coda
Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a
Jing Guan Yin (靜觀吟; Qinqu Jicheng, Vol. IV/209)
王維 Wang Wei poem 酬諸公見遇詩
Also written Jingguan Yin; alternative translations include "Meditation in Stillness" and "Observing Calmly". 43533.322 only 靜觀 jing guan, with three references:
白居易 Bai Juyi poem 自題寫真詩
程顥 Cheng Hao (see below) poem 秋日詩, same as
Shang mode (商調 Shang Diao)
In this melody the tonal center is do (gong; open first string), but a strong secondary tonal center is re (shang): many phrases end on shang, and hearing such endings prepares one for following phrases ending on gong. For further information on shang mode see
Shenpin Shang Yi and
Modality in Early Ming Qin Tablature.
This calligraphy, by 劉嘉雄 Liu Jiasong, was found on the Taiwan website http://www.jwt.url.tw/bus1-ruuchasyau.htm. It consists of Liu's calligraphy for the complete text of the Cheng Hao poem quoted below.
Tracing 靜觀吟 Jingguan Yin
Zha Fuxi's Guide
25/210/-- lists it in 35 handbooks from the present one to 1899, none has lyrics. The first 16 are as follows:
- 1579 (IV/209; see
above; opens at 13.1 on 1st string)
- 1590 (V/478; like 1579 [but adds open 1st string at front]; only version entitled 靜觀音, also pronounced Jing Guan Yin: "Sounds of Contemplation")
preface; quite different; starts with 1st string at 13.1 twice then slide and open 4th, then rather longer)
(VIII/103; begins with open 4th string played twice then first string stopped in 4th position; not divided into numbered sections; earliest Yushan school handbook)
- 1634 (IX/309; opens as 1609)
- late Ming
(IX/428; opens as 1579, then diff.)
(X/93; opens as 1614)
- 1660 (XI/25; no image; opens as 1579)
(XI/358; 2nd handbook with commentary: preface similar to 1579 but shorter; opens as 1614)
(X/365; opens as 1614)
- 1676?-Japan (Facs III/52; as 1609; not listed in Zha Guide)
- <1700 (XIV/114; opens as 1614; not listed in Zha Guide)
- 1689 (XIV/232; opens as 1614)
- 1691 (XII/525; opens as 1614)
- 1702 (XIII/226; opens as 1614)
- 1705 (XIII/359; opens as 1614; several modern recordings credit this one)
- 1722 (XIV/466; third note is 4th string stopped at 外 wai then slide up to 10th position)
Based mainly on looking at the opening phrase, it seems that early versions developed either from the 1579 or the 1614 handbooks. Within the melodies there are considerable similarities, though the variations available support assertions that this became quite a popular melody, in particular after 1614.
Melodic connection to Ting Qin Yin
This is easily seen in the opening of my transcriptions of the 1579 edition, but when I wrote this I had not completed my reconstruction of Jing Guan Yin and I have not yet carefully compared the latter parts.
程顥 Cheng Hao and 程子 Chengzi
As discussed under the melodies
Ming De Yin and Kongsheng Jing, 子程子 Zi Chengzi actually refers there to two brothers:
- 程顥 Cheng Hao (1032-1085;
Wiki); style name 伯淳 Boji; nickname 明道 Mingdao (明道先生 Master Mingdao)
- 程頤 Cheng Yi
(1033–1107; Bio/2312; Wiki); style name 正叔 Zhengshu; also called 伊川先生 Master Yichuan
The two brothers lived in 洛陽 Luoyang
The 1609 preface quotes Cheng Hao as follows:
With Jing Guan Yin it seems that the reference is only to Cheng Hao, as the poem quoted below has been attributed to him.
Further on 程子 Chengzi
There was also an ancient philosopher of this name, but the references with the qin melody Jing Guan Yin do not seem to be to him. As for him, Bio/2308 程本 Cheng Ben says this is another name for 子華子 Zi Huazi, adding that he was a man of great learning and that, "Confucius, meeting him at 郯 Tan, called him 天下賢士 the most worthy of persons." According to 7072.534 子華子 Zi Huazi was actually a book also referred to as the "Cheng Volume" (Cheng ben), adding that it was known as the Cheng Ben in Kongzi Jiayu, while it was known as Zihuazi in Liezi (? Huazi is in Liezi Book 3/7 周穆王 King Mu of Zhou). The book had apparently disappeared by the Han dynasty. When it was "re-created" during the Song the author was said to be Chengzi. Zihuazi (the philosopher Huazi) is also mentioned in Zhuangzi, e.g., Chapter 28 讓王 Yielding kingship.
Couplet from the poem 秋日偶成 Stray Thoughts on an Autumn Day, by 程顥 Cheng Hao
As mentioned, the original text of the entire poem serves as lyrics for the melody 偶成 Stray Thoughts. Here only the second line is quoted, as follows:
On serene contemplation, everything of the world seems proceeding by itself.
Exquisite beauties of four seasons revolve together with mankind.
This translation is from www.quora.com; there have also been others online.
(see the differences).
Li Mian 李勉
See separate entry
Quote from 1722
The original Chinese is:
Recording of Jing Guan Yin by 夏一峰
The note to this recording (#9) says only that it comes from a 抄本 handcopy, but the actual music is almost the same as in 1722 and 1868. There is a transcription of Xia Yifeng's performance in Guqinqu Huibian.
Later popularity of Jing Guan Yin
I have not carefully searched the later handbooks, but have noted that #31 on the list, dated 1868, is very similar to #15, dated 1722.
Recording of Jing Guan Yin by 汪鐸 Wang Duo
In addition to his CD recording, mentioned above, a performance by Wang Duo of Jing Guan Yin has also been posted on YouTube.
Recording of Jing Guan Yin by 伏見无家 Muka Fushimi
This recording is available on YouTube.
See comments in the text above.
The above recording was made in April 2019 using a guqin made by
He Mingwei in the 1990s.
Three other recordings of the 1579 Jing Guan Yin
I originally worked on reconstructing this piece before doing Ting Qin Yin, but did not complete it. It was noticing the connection between the two which provided an important key to my understanding of the 1579 Jing Guan Yin. I first recorded my Jing Guan Yin in September 2015 using the three guqins that had belonged to Professor Alan Berkowitz (1950-2015). These recordings are linked below: timings follow these three recordings
1. made by 張建華 Zhang Jianhua (listen)
00.00 (00.00; 00.00) 1.
2. made by 王鵬 Wang Peng
3. (with metal strings) made by
00.34 (00.34; 00.39) 2.
00.48 (00.48; 00.48) 2a. (some later versions start Section 3 here)
01.15 (01.15; 01.16) 3.
01.51 (01.53; 01.52) Harmonic coda.
02.06 (02.12; 02.11) End
Alan was a good friend who would have appreciated the sentiment of this melody. Further regarding the three qins recorded here:
- The Zhang Jianhua had newly installed Taigu strings for the lower four strings, Huqiu strings for the upper three. It is the lightest of the three instruments and the thicker strings seemed important to give more body to the sound. However, since they were newly strung at the time of the recording it was more difficult to control the sliding sounds.
- The Wang Peng qin had well-worn Taigu strings plus one Huqiu string. It is typical of Wang Peng qins after about 2005 in that the wood under the lower strings is much thicker than under the upper ones. This seems to me to be a compromise between silk and metal string usage.
- The Li Mingzhong qin is by far the heaviest; the wood/lacquer is thick but the sound box is very small, and there is little space at the opening. I do not know the source of the nylon-metal strings on the instrument.
For both silk string instruments the strings were a bit too close to the top surface of the qin; on the Zhang Jianhua I alleviated this by putting a thick silk string along the top of the bridge, under the lower four or five strings, then tried to play gently.
Return to the annotated handbook list
or to the Guqin ToC.