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Pear-White Clouds, Spring Thoughts
Shang Yin (Shang mode, standard tuning):2 1 2 4 5 6 1 2
梨雲春思 1
Li Yun Chun Si  
  First page of the original tablature (.pdf of entire piece) 3    
Li Yun Chun Si is a setting for qin of ten ci poems. The overall title suggests a romantic theme: both "pear clouds" (i.e., "pear-white clouds") and "spring thoughts" are terms often used within the context of romance. In addition, most of the individual section titles (i.e., ci titles) have similarly romantic implications, and this is usually also reflected in the actual lyrics.4

As can be seen at right, the musical setting is attributed to Yangzhou's Zhuang Zhenfeng,5 style name Die'an (ca. 1624 - after 1667) and the lyrics are attributed to Hangzhou's Mao Xianshu, style name Zhihuang (1620 - 1688).6 It is not clear to what extent the setting of these ten poems was intended as a unit, as opposed to simply a set of 10 independent settings. In any case, they were published with little change in at least four later handbooks through 1884.7

At the same time, though, Li Yun Chun Si has an interesting relationship to the piece called Grass Hall Intonation (草堂吟 Caotang Yin) published in Japan in four sections. Specifically, the titles and lyrics of the four sections of Caotang Yin are the same as for the first four sections of Li Yun Chun Si, but the music is almost completely different. The relationship is probably due to the fact that the compiler of the Japanese handbook, Jiang Xingchou (1639 - 1695), had lived in Hangzhou at the same time as Mao and Zhuang, going to Japan in 1676. Why the lyrics are the same but the melodies different is not at all clear.8

According to Zhuang Zhenfeng's own afterword to Li Yun Chun Si he created this piece (by either revising melodies or creating new ones, it is not clear which) to replace what he considered to be quite unsatisfactory settings; since the time frame suggests that the Japanese setting was published later, presumably that was not the referenced unsatisfactory setting (further comment). What this does emphasize, though, is that although the tradition of ci poetry was supposedly intended to allow multiple sets of lyrics to apply to a single melody, within the surviving guqin repertoire the practice seems quite the opposite: more likely the lyrics will remain but a new melody will be applied to it.

In any case, because all this seems to attest to a widespread custom at the time of making new settings for either existing lyrics or lyrical patterns, the only way to try to recapture the melodic style of qin songs from that time will thus be to try to become familiar with the style by reconstructing as many of these melodies as one can.9

In this, it will be useful also to compare how Zhuang Zhenfeng also created (or re-arranged) music for other lyrics or texts: a Buddhist chant (Shitan Zhang), four Tang quatrains (Zao Zhao Yin, and prose commentary (Linhe Xiuxi

Li Yun Chun Si has a rather lengthy preface written in 康熙乙巳 1665 by 王士祿 Wang Shilu;11 the original, in grass writing, is here as a .pdf. (Thanks to 孫小青 and 姚瑩 for their help in deciphering it.)



(Translation begins: "By nature I am lazy, without patience to study all the arts, so as for qin I am capable only of understanding (such basic stroke techniques as) 'hook', 'kick', 'slide up into'....things that ordinary masters are good at...." (at the end it mentions 草堂闋 Caotang Que).

Afterword to Li Yun Chun Si

This afterword is as follows:

Once when I happened to be sitting in a friend's studio I saw written music for this, and so took up a qin and tried to play it. The melody was discordant, the fingering (awkward?), not like what a musical person would create. (But) I liked the ci lyrics, so I straightaway matched them with new sounds. These included....and I changed the name to "Pear-White Clouds, Spring Thoughts".

Translations incomplete.

Music and lyrics
The music of the 10+1 sections of Li Yun Chun Si is paired to a series of ci lyrics following the
traditional syllabic pairing method. The lyrics themselves are as follows (compare Cao Tang Yin and see www.qinzhijie.com):

  1. 鵲橋仙 Que Qiao Xian (Magpie Bridge Immortals)
    Compare with the contemporary ci setting
    in Japan as well as the earlier one by 秦觀 Qin Guan. Qingping Yue also concerns Magpie Bridge, but the form is unrelated.


  2. 點絳唇 Dian Jiang Chun (A Touch of Red Lips)
    Li Qingzhao wrote ci poems in this form. And Japanese handbooks have at least two examples, a Dian Jiang Chun, and a Nan Pu Yue.


  3. 好事近 Hao Shi Jin (Approaching Bliss)
    in Japan as well as a ci of this name by Fan Chengda, one by Li Qingzhao, and many by other women poets


  4. 畫堂春 Hua Tang Chun (A Painted Hall in Spring)
    ci in this pattern by Qin Guan is translated here. Also compare the ci of this name from 1687

    海棠自惜是花妃,着意徘徊,着意徘徊。 (note repetition of this last phrase)

  5. 少年遊 Shao Nian You (Youthful Travel; in harmonics)
    Name of a cipai; example by Liu Yong


  6. 風中柳 Feng Zhong Liu (Wind Amidst Willows)
    44734.xxx; XII/592xxx. The lyrics for the present melody are as follows:


    The pattern here seems to have some relation to online examples said to be in a ci pattern called Feng Zhong Liu, but there are significant differences. For example, the following seems to be the main example. It is attributed to Lady Sun, wife of Liu Bei:


    Lady Sun's pattern is:
          66 字 divided (4,6. 3,4. 4,5. 3,4.) x 2 (i.e., 33 x 2).
    In contrast the pattern with the 1664 song setting is:
          67 字 divided  5,4,  7.   6,4,     7.
                                  4,6,  7.  3,3,4.   3,4.   (33 + 34)

    The significance of this puzzles me. Possibly related cipai titles are 風中柳令 Feng Zhong Liu Ling (44734.xxx) and 謝池春 Xie Chi Chun, but none of these seems to fit the present pattern either.

  7. 謁金門 Ye Jin Men (Visit the Golden Gate; in harmonics)
    Cipai name;
    Wei Zhuang wrote one in this form


  8. 醉花陰 Zui Hua Yin (Drunk in the Blossom's Shade; "slow down")
    a poem in this form by Li Qingzhao

    攪牕花影鶯聲碎,春風惱人如醉。                 (not 7,5: one extra character)
    楊花無力因風起,閒逐游絲細。                     (in 1664 起 was written 走尺)

  9. 一剪梅 Yi Jian Mei (A Sprig of Blossoms)
    Li Qingzhao also wrote one in this form


  10. 千秋歲 Qian Qiu Sui (A Thousand Autumns)
    Compare these lyrics to those of separate halves of
    this poem by 張先 Zhang Xian and this one by 黃庭堅 Huang Tingjian

    柳絮風,梨花雪。                        (Huang Tingjian same; Zhang Xian has 7 characters)

    尾聲 Weisheng (Coda, in harmonics)
    Compare with structure of #10: were these two together intended to make a complete Qian Qiu Shui?

    慵把彩毫攜,莫把金樽歇。         (Others also have 5+5 for part 2)
    知心  惟有夜半穿窓月。               (Old ci patterns have 3+7: 知心者?)

None of the poems from Qinxue Xinsheng is yet translated.

Footnotes (Shorthand/I references are explained on a
separate page)

1. Pear-White Clouds, Spring Thoughts (梨雲春思 Li Yun Chun Si) (XII/78)
Attributions for the present song setting are given at the beginning of the melody (see image above, discussed further below).

15403.23 has only 梨雲: "clouds that are white like pears"; quotes suggest a connection to spring and romance. "Chun Si", the name of an unrelated melody, is also a term suggestive of romance.

There seems to be an unrelated melody in the pipa repertoire called Li Yun Chun Si. The only explanation I have seen suggests that the original name is Chun Si and that perhaps Li Yun was a woman's name.

(Another apparently unrelated reference mentioning 梨雲 Li Yun is 杏雨梨雲 14820.xxx.)

2. Shang mode (商音 Shang Yin)
As with other Ming dynasty melodies in shang mode, throughout the whole piece the open first string is treated as do (1; transcribed as "C"), which is also the main tonal center. As with these other melodies the secondary tonal centers are sol (5) and re (2; shang), but there are no flatted 3s. There is further discussion of the modal characteristics of qin melodies during the Ming dynasty under Modality in early Ming qin tablature, with further specifics on shang mode melodies under Shenpin Shang Yi. During the Qing dynasty perceptions of mode apparently changed, as can be seen by the changing mode names in later occurrences of this piece.

3. Image: Opening page of Li Yun Chun Si
Copied from QQJC XII/78. Just under the title "Li Yun Chun Si" it says, "商音十段 shang mode, 10 sections". The next two lines to the left of that say,


The first line says, "The sounds were harmonized by Maestro Zhuang Zhenfeng, (style name) Die'an, of Sanshan (Yangzhou)"; the second says, "The ci lyrics were adapted by Master Mao Xianshu, (style name) Zhihuang of Qiantang (Hangzhou)". An afterword gives more details, suggesting Zhuang perhaps originally heard the melodies from a friend and arranged them for qin.

On the fourth line from the right it says, "Section 1, Magpie Bridge Immortals". Then after this the lines alternate between the song lyrics and the paired qin tablature.

4. A suite or 10 separate melodies?
All melodies are in the same mode, but based on my preliminary transcription there are no musical motifs to show the melody was intended as a unit.

5. 莊臻鳳諧音 Musical setting by Zhuang Zhenfeng
All the commentary I have seen seems to assume that Zhuang Zhenfeng (ca. 1624 - after 1667) "created" or "composed" the music, but the Chinese term "諧音 xie yin" could mean simply that he arranged a pre-existing melody. In the afterword Zhuang himself says he rejected an earlier melody and "諧新聲 arranged new sounds". This, plus the fact that he apparently created other melodies in the book, suggest the melody really was his own, though even this is not completely conclusive. See, for example, Section 2 of Caotang Yin: the three other sections of this piece (which has the same lyrics) seem to have a completely different melody but that of Section 2 is clearly related (further comment).

6. Mao Xianshu (1620—1688; baike.com/wiki)
錢塘毛先舒(字)稚黃 From Hangzhou; style name Zhihuang. See reference to his comment about Zhuang. The text at the front of the melody says he "較詞 jiao ci", literally, "revised the lyrics". Although this may mean he merely adapted very similar lyrics, it seems more likely that "revised" means he created new lyrics to replace earlier ci lyrics in the same pattern.

7. Tracing Li Yun Chun Si
Zha Guide 33/255/491 lists Li Yun Chun Si in five handbooks, omitting the 草堂吟 Caotang Yin published in Japan. In some places the 1664 edition is not very clearly printed. However, the four 19th century publications are seem to be based on the original 1664 tablature, rather than someone else's playing/interpretation of the melody, and these are clear enough that in almost every case they can be used to determine what was intended by the original.

The five handbooks are:

  1. Qinxue Xinsheng (1664; XII/78; .pdf)
    "商音 Shang yin". Zha Guide, based on the original preface (原註), says 又名草堂闋 also called Caotang Que
  2. Yiluxuan Qinpu (ca. 1802; XIX/230; .pdf)
    "商音 shang yin; from 1676"; same section titles and melody, but no lyrics; no commentary
  3. Erxiang Qinpu (1833; XXIII/151; this handbook also has Wuye Wu Qiufeng)
    "宮音 Gong yin"; otherwise section titles, melody and lyrics seem same; adds a lengthy Afterword
  4. Tianwenge Qinpu (1876; XXV/369)
    "徴音 Zhi yin", but section titles, melody and lyrics seem to be same; no commentary except that source is given as 梅華庵 1833
  5. Shuangqin Shuwu Qinpu Jicheng (1884; XXVII/345; .pdf)
    "黃鍾均,商音 Huangzhong jun, shang yin". Same section titles, melody and lyrics but called simply "梨雲 Li Yun" and has a brief further comment.

Regarding 草堂吟 Caotang Yin, the words Caotang Que (草堂闋 31629.173xxx; Grass Hall Stanzas) are mentioned in the preface to the Li Yun Chun Si in Qinxue Xinsheng (see XII/77, first line on bottom). It is presumably for this reason that Zha Guide p.33 says Qinxue Xinsheng listed Caotang Que as an alternate title. However, it is not clear why the setting published in Japan of the lyrics of the first four sections here, which have mostly different music, is called Caotang Yin.

8. Comparing Caotang Yin and Li Yun Chun Si
Although the lyrics of the four sections of Caotang Yin are the same as those of the first four of the ten sections in Li Yun Chun Si the music seems to be completely different except for in Section 2 (點絳唇 Dian Jiang Chun in both), where they seem almost the same. Presumably the differences between the two Sections 2 are significant; I haven't examined the other sections closely enough to know whether there are any small changes there that might be significant (e.g., to the mode). By the time Jiang Xingchou went to Japan (1676) Qinxue Xinsheng had already been published. This suggests that Jiang's version was not the one rejected by Zhuang Zhenfeng. Perhaps a careful reconstruction of the two could shed further light on the significance of the differences.

9. Recovering the song tradition
Another important aspect is vocal technique/style, regarding which see further.

10. Introduction
In addition to the preface and afterword here, there are some interesting additional comments (or changes) in these other handbooks:

None of these comments on whether Li Yun Chun Si should be considered an integrated piece or a suite of separate ci lyric settings: a sort of song cycle.

11. Wang Shilu 王士祿 (1626-1673)
21297.64 王士祿字子底,山東新城人. He was a poet, as were his brothers 王士祜 and 王士禎 (q.v.): together they were known as the "三王 Three Wangs".

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