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Sang Jingshu
- Qin Shi Bu #103
桑景疏 1
琴史補 #103 2

This entry about Sang Jingshu (no dates given) is quoted directly from Mengxi Bitan by Shen Gua (1030 - 1093).3 It mostly consists of a discussion of a melody called Corn Poppy Composition.4 This melody is said to have been written by Sang Jingshu using 吳音 the sounds of Wu, the region where he lived.

The original essay in Qin Shi Bu, quoting Shen Gua's Mengxi Bitan is as follows.

Sang Jingshu, from Gaoyou, had an intrinsic understanding of music gained through listening to the all the sounds of nature. He knew how to forecast disaster or fortune, and was especially gifted at musical sounds. There was an old tradition concerning the corn poppy plant saying that when it heard people playing the Corn Poppy Melody, its branches and leaves would shake, but would not do this for other melodies. Jingshu tested this and found that the old tradition was correct. He then examined the sound of the melody and said, This is the sound of 吳 Wu. On another day he took his qin and tried to use the sounds of Wu to make a melody. Then, facing the plant, he played it. The leaves and branches also moved, so he called the melody Corn Poppy Composition. Its melody, compared to that of Corn Poppy Melody, was completely differen. But although not a single sound was the same, the plant still respond as though it was Corn Poppy Melody. This is because its modality had the same internal structure, and his musical skills were so great.

Sang Jingshu was a Metropolitan Candidate who eventually became a provincial magistrate. Today Corn Poppy Composition can be heard through Jianghu (modern Jiangsu and Zhejiang Provinces). But people still do not know what makes it be sounds of Wu.

 
Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. 15030.xxx; from 高郵 Gaoyou (north of Yangzhou) (Return)

2. 9 lines; source: 夢溪筆談 Mengxi Bitan (see next) (Return)

3. 夢溪筆談 Mengxi Bitan
Written by 沈括 Shen Gua. This and several other articles from Mengxi Bitan are in Qinshu Daquan, Folio 17, #23
(Return)

4. 虞美人操 Yu Meiren Cao
33531.68/1 虞美人 (Yu Meiren) is Yu Ji, whose story is told with qin melody Chu Ge. However, (see .68/2) it is also the name of a flower, the corn poppy. This latter is clearly the meaning here (see .70). The lyrics of a poem of this name by 李煜 Li Yu (李後主 Li Houzhu, Wiki) have been applied to the modal prelude Shenpin Wuyi Yi.
(Return)

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