Saturday, March 11, 2017

Early Chinese Music Resources: Ming

Early Chinese Music Resources: Ming
compiled by David Badagnani (rev. 5 April 2021)

In an effort to make this repertoire more accessible, this document contains resources related to the known surviving pieces and songs from China's Ming Dynasty (明朝, 1368-1644).
Links to scores are highlighted in blue.  Links to recordings and videos are highlighted in pink.
Links to textual sources are highlighted in green.


Guqin handbooks
During the Ming Dynasty many qinpu (琴谱, handbooks for the guqin, or 7-string zither, which is also called qin) were published (in woodblock-printed form), although a few of these survive only in hand-copied form; at least one originated in the Song Dynasty, although the earliest surviving edition dates from 1413. These handbooks contain scores for qin qu (琴曲, qin pieces), some of which include paired lyrics and so are called qin ge (琴歌, literally "qin songs"), along with explanatory and/or instructional text. Of these, approximately 47 survive to the present, comprising approximately 405 different pieces, many of which exist in multiple versions.

This huge volume of material, which is difficult to summarize, is covered thoroughly by U.S.-based guqin player and scholar John Thompson on his website, which includes many translations and transcriptions as well as analysis:

Specific pages from John Thompson's website that provide an overview of the extant Ming-era qin pieces are as follows:

Da Ming Jili

Da Ming Jili 《大明集礼》 (1370), compiled beginning in 1369, the second year of the Ming Dynasty, and completed the following year, contains scores in lü-lü notation for numerous pieces of Ming Dynasty state sacrificial music, as well as five ritual melodies dating to the Yuan Dynasty (which are presented in both lü-lü notation and gongche notation). The source comprises 53 volumes, of which various aspects of music are covered to a significant degree in 15 volumes. Scores for Ming melodies appear in volumes 2, 3, 4, 9, 11, 13, and 14, and the five Yuan ritual pieces are included in volume 53a.

Facsimile of Da Ming Jili:

Full-text version of Da Ming Jili:


Pan Gong Liyue Shu Pan Gong Liyue Shu 《頖宫礼乐疏》 is a book in ten volumes on the subject of Confucian ritual and music by Li Zhizhao (李之藻, c. 1565 or c. 1571-1630), a late Ming Dynasty scholar-official and convert to Roman Catholicism from Hangzhou. It was published in 1618, the 46th year of the Wanli Emperor (万历帝, r. 1572-1620).

Full text of Pan Gong Liyue Shu:

Facsimile of Pan Gong Liyue Shu:


Taichang Xu Kao

Taichang Xu Kao 《太常续考》 (Further Studies of the Ministry of Ceremonies) is an 8-volume collection of of records documenting the sacrificial ceremonies of the Ming Dynasty, which was compiled by officials of the Taichang Si (太常寺, Court of Imperial Sacrifices, also known as Court of Sacrificial Worship), an institution of the Ming court which was under the control of the Ministry of Rites. It was completed in 1643, the sixteenth year of the the reign of the Chongzhen Emperor (r. 1627-1644, the last emperor of the Ming Dynasty), and the year before the fall of the Ming Dynasty.

The collection, which takes the form of a detailed and comprehensive ritual manual, divides imperial sacrificial rituals into three categories: namely da si (大祀, grand sacrificial rituals), zhong si (中祀, sacrificial rituals of moderate importance), and xiao si (小祀, sacrificial rituals of lesser importance). Volumes 1, 2, 3, 5, and 8 include notation for numerous ritual songs in gongche notation.

Full text of Taichang Xu Kao:

Jia Chui Yue

The Jia Chui Yue 《笳吹乐》 ("Pipe-Blowing Music") is the repertoire of entertainment music from the court of Ligdan Khan (林丹汗, r. 1603-1634), a descendant of the Borjigin rulers of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) and the second-to-last khagan (khan) of the Northern Yuan Dynasty, who ruled from Chaghan Baishin in the Chahar region of Mongolia (modern-day southern Inner Mongolia). Although he raided Ming China in his early reign, in 1618, facing pressure from the rising Manchus in the east, and threatened by insurrections from other Mongol subgroups resentful of his rule, he signed a treaty with the Ming in 1618, receiving a lucrative annual subsidy in return for protecting China's northern border from the Manchus.

Ligdan Khan died in 1634, and his son Ejei Khan (额哲, r. 1634-1635) finally surrendered to the Manchu-led Later Jin Dynasty in 1635. The Later Jin Dynasty renamed itself the Great Qing in 1636, and the Qing would go on to conquer China in 1644. Ejei was awarded the rank of prince, and the remaining Chahar nobility enjoyed close ties with the Qing royal family, intermarrying with them extensively. The Qing retained elements of the music of the former Mongol court in its Fanbu Hezou (番部合奏), an ensemble that performed for banquets, wrestling competitions, and other similar events.

The Jia Chui Yue repertoire includes the following pieces (the numbers following the titles are the numbers each piece is assigned in the Inner Mongolia volume of the Zhongguo Minzu Minjian Qiyuequ Jicheng):

1. Yinzi 《引子》 (Prelude) - no. 939 2. Mu Ma Ge 《牧马歌》 (Horse-Herding Song) - no. 940 3. Gu Ge 《古歌》 (Ancient Song) - no. 941 4. Ruyi Bao 《如宝》 - no. 942 5. Jia Zhao 《佳兆》 (Good Omen) - no. 943 6. Cheng Gan Ci 《诚感词》 - no. 944 7. 《吉庆篇》 - no. 945 8. 《肖者吟》 - no。 946 9. Jun Ma Huang 《君马黄》 - no. 947 10. Yide Yin 《德吟》 - no. 948 11. 《善哉行》 - no. 949 12. 《乐土》 - no. 950 13. Ta Yao Niang 《摇娘》 - no. 951 14. Song Dao Ci 《颂祷词》 - no. 952 15. Man Ge 《慢歌》 - no. 953 16. Tang Gongzhu 《唐公主》 - no. 954 17. Dancheng Qu 《丹诚曲》 - no. 955 18. Guangming Qu 《光明曲》 - no. 956 19. 《吉师》 - no. 957 20. 《明时》 - no. 958 21. Weiyan 《微》 - no. 959 22. 《际嘉平》 - no. 960 23. 《善政歌》 - no. 961 24. Changming Ci 《长词》 - no. 962 25. 《窈窕娘》 - no. 963 26. 《》 - no. 964 27. 《四吟》 - no. 965 28. He Sheng Chao 《圣朝》 - no. 966 29. 《英流行》 - no. 967 30. 《坚固子》 - no. 968 31. Yue Yuan 《月圆》 (The Moon is Round) - no. 969 32. Huan Ge 《歌》 - no. 970 33. 《至纯辞》 - no. 971 34. 《美君》 - no. 972 35. Shaonian Xing 《少年行》 - no. 973 36. 《四天王吟》 - no. 974 37. 《转调》 - no. 975 38. Tieli 《铁骊》 (The Black Horse) - no. 976 39. 《木》 - no. 977 40. Haohe Qu 《好合曲》 - no. 978 41. Tong Fu 《童阜》 - no. 979 42. Tian Ma Yin 《天马吟》 - no. 980 43. Da Long Ma Yin 《大龙马吟》 - no. 981
Video of "Da Long Ma Yin": 44. 《》 - no. 982 45. 《马》 - no. 983 46. 《回波词》 - no. 984 47. 《长》 - no. 985 48. Ping Diao 《平调》 - no. 986 49. Youzi Yin 《游子吟》 - no. 987 50. 《平调曲》 - no. 988 51. 《高士吟》 - no. 989 52. 《生明》 - no. 990 53. 《高行》 - no. 991 54. San Zhang 《三》 (Three Laws) - no. 992 55. 《圆音》 - no. 993 56. Langan 《栏杆》 - no. 994 57. 《思行》 - no. 995 58. 《法座引》 - no. 996 59. 《引词》 - no. 997 60. 《化词》 - no. 998 61. 《七宝》 - no. 999 62. Duange 《歌》 - no. 1000 63. Xizhao 《照》 (Glow of the Setting Sun) - no. 1001 64. 《归国》 - no. 1002 65. 《宝吟》 - no. 1003 66. 《罗门引》 - no. 1004 67. San Buluo 《三部落》 - no. 1005 68. Wu Buluo 《五部落》 - no. 1006


Weishi Yuepu
The Weishi Yuepu 《魏氏乐谱》 is a collection of Chinese yanyue (palace entertainment music) pieces compiled by Wei Hao (魏浩, courtesy name Wei Ziming, 魏子明), a music scholar of Chinese heritage, in Nagasaki, Japan in 1768, during the Edo (Tokugawa) period, which was also the 33rd year of the reign of the Qing Dynasty emperor Qianlong. This music is believed to have been in use in the imperial court in Beijing in the late Ming Dynasty (early 17th century). The collection comprises 50 tunes that include vocal pieces with texts from the "Shijing" (Confucian "Classic of Poetry") and Han Dynasty yuefu, as well as poems from the Tang and Song dynasties. These tunes were originally in the possession of Wei Shuanghou (魏双侯, courtesy name Wei Zhiyan, 魏之琰; c. 1617-1689), a palace music master of the late Ming Dynasty from Fuqing, Fuzhou, Fujian province who fled to Nagasaki, Japan upon that dynasty's fall in 1644. Wei Shuanghou's fourth-generation descendant Wei Hao, who prepared the Weishi Yuepu, was a Chinese music specialist employed by the Tokugawa court. At that time in Japan this style of music was called Mingaku (明樂 / みんがく, literally "music from the Ming [Dynasty]"). Wei Hao selected the most important tunes out of a collection of more than 200 pieces and had them printed in 1768. The collection includes a broad array of scores for various wind, string, and percussion instruments, which are grouped into eight distinct modes.

The collection's contents are as follows:
1. 《江陵乐》 2. 寿阳乐
3. Yang Bai Hua 杨白花
4. Ganlu Dian 甘露殿
5. Die Lian Hua 蝶恋花
6. 估客乐
7. Dunhuang Yue 敦煌乐
8. 沐浴子
9. 寿(无疆词)
10. Xi Qian Ying 喜迁莺
11. Guan Shan Yue 关山月
12. Tao Ye Ge 桃叶歌
13. Guan Ju 关雎
14. Qing Ping Diao 清平调
15. Zui Qi Yan Zhi 醉起言志
19. Jiangnan Nong 江南弄
20. Yu Hudie 玉蝴蝶
21. Youzi Yin 游子吟
22. Taixuan Guan 太玄观
23. Yangguan Qu 阳关曲
24. Xing Hua Tian 杏花天》 (Apricot Blossoms Against the Sky)
25. Cai Sangzi 采桑子》 (Picking Mulberries)
28. Ping Fan Qu 平蕃曲
30. Rui He Xian 瑞鹤仙
34. Tian Ma 天马
36. Qiu Feng Ci 秋风辞
37. Wan Nian Huan 万年欢
38. Bai Tou Yin 白头吟
39. Dong Xian Ge 洞仙歌
40. Qian Qiu Sui 千秋岁
41. Shui Long Yin 水龙吟
42. Fenghuang Tai 凤凰台
44. Qing Yu An 青玉案
45. Datong Dian 大同殿
47. Chang Ge Xing 长歌行
48. Feng Zhong Liu 风中柳》 (Wind in the Willows)
50. 齐天乐

Facsimile of the Weishi Yuepu:
Full text of the Weishi Yuepu:

Videos of performances featuring pieces from the Weishi Yuepu:
(Shanghai, China, 2017)
(Nanning, Guangxi, China, 2019)

Historical reference works about the music of the Ming Dynasty

Da Ming Huidian大明会典》 (Collected Statutes of the Ming Dynasty or Collected Regulations of the Great Ming)
Da Ming Huidian is a five-volume collection of regulations and procedures of the Ming Dynasty. This work, which took 11 years to complete, was published in 1509.

Gu Jin Tan Gai 古今谭概 (Anecdotes Old and New), also known as Gu Jin Xiao Shi 《古今笑史》, Gu Jin Xiao 《古今笑》, or Tan Gai 《谈概》 First published in 1620, Gu Jin Tan Gai is a collection of anecdotes and short stories, in 36 sections, by the Ming Dynasty novelist Feng Menglong (冯梦龙, 1574-1646). Most of the stories, many of which are of an amusing or grotesque nature, are excerpted from historical records, with a small number created by Feng himself. The work includes a few anecdotes about music.

Ming Shi 明史》 (The History of Ming)
The official history of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Ming Shi was completed in 1739 (actually during the Qing Dynasty).  It is one of the Twenty-Four Histories (二十四史).  Music is discussed in sections 61, 62, and 63.


Ming-Era Court Ensembles

As listed in section 61 of the Ming Shi 《明史》 (The History of Ming), the musical ensembles in use in the Ming court included:

Musicians:  62 people; bianzhong, bianqing:  16 of each, qin:  10, se:  4, bofu:  4, zhu [and] yu:  1 of each, xun:  4, chi:  4, xiao:  8, sheng:  8, di:  4, yinggu:  1; singers:  12; _______________.
______ yue:  4, feng sheng:  4, xun:  4 used, bofu:  2 used, altogether 72 people.
The Confucian Temple has 60 musicians:  bianzhong, bianqing:  16 of each, qin:  10, se:  4, bofu:  4, zhu [and] yu:  1 of each, xun:  4, chi:  4, xiao:  8, sheng:  8, di:  4, dagu:  1; singers:  10.

[Music for] Congratulating the Emperor by Performing Ritual Obeisance
________________:  xiao:  4, sheng:  4, konghou:  4, fangxiang:  4, touguan:  4, longdi:  4, pipa:  4, qin [i.e., yazheng]:  6, zhanggu:  24, dagu:  2, ban:  2.
_________________:  xiao:  12, sheng:  12, paixiao:  4, hengdi:  12, xun:  4, chi:  4, qin:  10:  se:  4, bianzhong:  2, bianqing:  2, yinggu:  2, zhu:  1, yu:  1, bofu:  2.
________:  ?:  2, xiao:  12, sheng:  12, di:  12, touguan:  12, qin [i.e., yazheng]:  8, pipa:  8, ershi xian:  8, fangxiang:  2, gu:  2, paiban:  8, zhanggu:  12.
__________________:  ?:  2, xiao:  14, sheng:  14, di:  14, touguan:  14, qin [i.e., yazheng]:  10, pipa:  8, ershi xian:  8, fangxiang:  6, gu:  5, paiban:  8, yinggu:  12.
_______:  ?:  2, xiao:  4, sheng:  4, di:  4, touguan:  4, qin [i.e., yazheng]:  2, pipa:  2, ershi xian:  2, fangxiang:  1, gu:  1, paiban:  2, yinggu:  6.

Grand Banquet [Music].
_______:  ?:  2, xiao:  4, sheng:  4, pipa:  6, qin [i.e., yazheng]:  6, konghou:  4, fangxiang:  4, touguan:  4, longdi:  4, yinggu:  24, dagu:  2, ban:  2.
___________:  sheng:  2, ?:  2, qin [i.e., yazheng]:  2, yinggu:  2, dagu:  1, ban:  1.
Four Barbarians Dance [and] Music:  yaogu:  2, pipa:  2, huqin:  2, konghou:  2, touguan:  2, Qiang di:  2, qin [i.e., yazheng]:  2, shuizhan [a set of water-filled cups or bowls, struck with sticks]:  1:  ban:  1.
___________________:  zhu:  1, yu:  1, bofu:  1, qin:  4, se:  2, xiao:  4, sheng:  4, di:  4, xun:  2, chi:  2, paixiao:  1, zhong:  1, qing:  1, yinggu:  1.
_______:  ?  :2, xiao:  4, sheng:  4, di:  2, touguan:  2, pipa:  2, qin [i.e., yazheng]:  2, ershi xian:  2, fangxiang:  2, yinggu:  8, gu:  1, ban:  1.
_____: ?  :2, sheng:  2, di:  4, touguan:  2, qin [i.e., yazheng]:  2, yinggu:  10, gu:  1, ban:  1.
_____:  sheng:  2, di:  2, yinggu:  8, gu:  1, ban:  1.
_______:  sheng:  4, di:  4, touguan:  2, qin [i.e., yazheng]:  4, fangxiang:  1, yinggu:  8, xiaogu:  1, ban:  1.

Note that the yazheng (轧筝, a bridge zither whose strings were rubbed with a rosined stick) is listed in this source using "𥱧" (qín), a character that combines the characters "竹" (on top) and "秦" (on the bottom); because this character was not formerly part of the Unicode inventory of Chinese characters, some online sources substitute "{竹秦}" (representing the upper and lower portions of the character) while others substitute "闉" (yīn), a character that has nothing to do with music or musical instruments.


Ming-era poems about music



Lam, Joseph S. C. "'There Is No Music in Chinese Music History': Five Court Tunes from the Yuan Dynasty (AD 1271-1368)."  Journal of the Royal Musical Association, vol. 119, no. 2 (1994), pp. 165-188.
Lam, Joseph S. C. "The Yin and Yang of Chinese Music Historiography: The Case of Confucian Ceremonial Music." Yearbook for Traditional Music, vol. 27 (1995), pp. 34-51.
● Lam, Joseph S. C. State Sacrifices and Music in Ming China: Orthodoxy, Creativity, and Expressiveness. Albany: State University Press of New York, 1998.
Picken, L. E. R. "The Musical Implications of Chinese Song-Texts with Unequal Lines, and the Significance of Nonsense-Syllables, with Special Reference to Art-Songs of the Song Dynasty." Musica Asiatica, v. 3 (1981), pp. 53-77. ● Thrasher, Alan R., ed.  Qupai in Chinese Music:  Melodic Models in Form and Practice.  New York and London:  Routledge, 2016.


Thanks to Jianyu Huang, Alan Lau, Lin Chiang-san, and John Thompson for assistance with this page.


Site index:

No comments:

Post a Comment