VOLUME 2, No.3 JOURNAL July 2001
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Playing fast like the stars .... Playing slow like a river ...
急若繁星不亂 緩若流水不絕

Date: 21 July 2001
Time: 2:00-5:00PM
Place: Willow's Apartment, Manhattan
Attending: Willow Hai Chang, Matthew Flannery, Shida Kuo, Bo Lawergren, Jung-ping Yuan
Guests: Peiyou Chang, Cora Rosevear, John Thompson, C.C. Wang, Xing'er Wang
Minutes: Matthew Flannery

(from left to right) Bo, John, Jung-ping, Willow, C.C., and Cora.
On September 11, 2001, the tragic attacks on the World Trade Center and Washington, D.C. took place before the publication of the current issue. All members of the New York Qin Society join me to express our deepest sympathy and condolences to the victims and their families. Our thoughts and prayers go out to our friends, families, and fellow Americans who have been affected by this unthinkable tragedy.-- Jung-ping Yuan (President, of NYQS)
The Meeting:
The meeting opened with various members playing a number of qin pieces. Pei-Yu began by playing two pieces, "Ping Sha Lo Yen" 平沙落雁. ("Wild Geese Landing on a Sandy Shore") and "Mei Hua San Nong" 梅花三弄 ("Three Variations on the Tune 'Plum Blossoms' "). The first was first published in the Qu Yin Zheng Cong Qin Pu {Orthodox Qin Manual) of 1634. It is attributed to a confusing array of composers from the Tang, Song, and Ming dynasties and exists in at least 30 different versions. " Three Variations on the Tune 'Plum Blossoms'" was first published in the Shen QiMi Pu 神奇秘譜 of 1425.

Jung-Ping then explained the meaning of an instruction of the Northern Song monk Yihai 義海 regarding qin performance 急若繁星不亂 緩若流水不絕. Yihai directive as to how to play fast and slow passages of music, was "fast playing should be organized and controlled, like the movement of stars, slow playing should advance in rhythmic movement, like quier river. By the first part of this phrase he meant (as his student, the monk Zhechen,則全 wrote) that fast passages should be played as if they were a variegated yet organized mass of stars. This means that, although fast passages are full of notes as the sky is of stars, the notes should form a clear, orderly block of music firmly under the player's control. Thus, the mass of notes should move like the night sky, its stars in a fixed order, turning in the sky together. What is an apparently disorganized mass of stars (notes) should move together as a unit, showing that it is a clearly and tightly organized whole.

The second part of his instruction, means that slow passages should move like a quiet river. That is, while the music is slow, it should be sure in direction. Hence, slow playing should not lose forward momentum and direction: rhythm and movement should not get lost in the waywardness to which slow playing is prone.

Subsequently, Jung-Ping played "I Gu Ren" 憶故人 ( "Memories of an Old Friend"). He noted that a possible implied meaning of this piece is that it represents the thoughts of an i-min 遺民, or leftover citizen, of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). In 1644, Ming forces were defeated by Manchus invaders. Although the Great Wall has never been forcefully breached by enemy forces, the Manchus were allowed through the wall by a rebellious Chinese military faction that had asked for their assistance. Eventually successful at defeating all Chinese forces, the Manchus established their own dynasty, the Qing (1644-1911). The song implies that the i-min (now living in the early Qing) has longing thoughts of the old days of the Ming dynasty, when China was self-ruled. Hence, the "old friend" under this interpretation is not a personal friend, it is the house of Ming and the times of its rule. Such a dynastic interpretation does not rule out the personal significance this work may have had for its composer or have for modem players and listeners: it is additive to it, deepening the piece's meaning.

John played three pieces: "Shi Ba Xue Shi Deng Yingzhou 十八學士登瀛洲," "Dongting Chiu Se 洞庭秋色" and "Chu Ge 楚歌"

John Thompson
John played three pieces. The first was "Shi Ba Xue Shi Deng Yingzhou 十八學士登瀛洲 ("Eighteen Scholars Ascend Yingzhou"), whose first appearance was in the Shen Qji Mi Pu 神奇秘譜 of 1425. There was some discussion as to whether three concepts share some meaning in common, namely, the eighteen scholars who ascended the island mountain of Yingzhou, the island home of the immortals, the eighteen cranes (shih ba) who went to Yingzhou, and 18 scholars who were appointed by Tang Tai-zong 唐太宗 (r. 627-650) to the imperial academy.

John's second piece was "Dongting Chiu Se 洞庭秋色" ("Autumn Colors at Dongting Lake"), which can be found in the Xi Lu Tang Qin Tong 西麓堂琴統 of 1549. John noted that he studies the qin not as an instrument in current use but as an ancient instrument, much in the way ancient instruments are studied in the west. One difference between ancient and modern practice is that many ancient modalities have been changed in more recent times. In contemporary playing, for example, the ancient shang or pentatonic mode is often converted to modes more popular today, such as the pu mode.

His third work was "Chu Ge 楚歌" ("Song of Chu"). Chu 楚. was a southern state originally distinct from Han 漢 China. After the fall of the Chin 秦 dynasty (218-206 BCE). Liu Bang 劉邦 of the Han people and Shang Yu 相羽 of Chu fought for control of China. Shang's wife was so devoted to his cause that she committed suicide so that he might fight without domestic distraction. One night during the war, Liu Bang had his people sing the "Chu Ge" to convince Shang Yu that Liu had succeeded in winning the allegiance of the Chu people. Thinking that he had been deserted by his own nation, Shang Yu gave up the fight. Presumably, therefore, the "Chu Ge" dates from before the Han. However, without text and score of the ancient version, we have no idea of whether the present song is musically derivative from the old one. John noted, however, that we have enough documentation of earlier versions of this work to have established that its modem tuning has changed since earlier times.

to page 2. Bo then showed a videotape he had made to augment a recent Paris lecture.
to page 3. Matthew Discussed Three Album Leaves by Hu Xiaoshi

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