VOLUME 2, No.5 JOURNAL December 2001
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Meeting in Weehawken

Date: 9 December 2001
Time: 2:00-5:00 PM
Place: John's House, Weehawkin
Minutes: Matthew, with thanks to John
Attending: Chang Pei-you, Alan Berkowitz, Stephen Dydo, Matthew Flannery, Holly Grinnell, Bo Lawrengren, John Thompson, Marilyn Wong, Jung-Ping Yuan
Guests: Elaine Sheng, Suzanne Smith, Yip Mingmei

John plays "Hujia Shibapai("Eighteen Songs of a Nomad Flute"), as Mingmei Elaine, Syephen, & Matthew listen and view a scroll illustrating the tune
The December meeting took place in Weehawken, New Jersey, at the home of John and his wife Suzanne. Their home is on a quiet side street, but the Port Authority Bus Terminal is 10 minutes away and there are also ferries to the financial district and to the 38th Street pier in midtown.

Marilyn, Matthew, John, Stephen, Bo, Alan, and Jung-ping look over qin books, manuals, and exhibition catalogs in John's library.
The meeting was a festive one, casual, with a minimal organization of events. After general conversation that included a discussion of the tools of calligraphy, an excellent buffet was set out by Suzanne amplified by treats rounded up by Marilyn from a specialty foods store. John then toured the members around his home, which has some traditional Chinese furniture, including an old wine table and scholar's table that he uses as qin tables. After members had gathered upstairs in John's third-floor library, he reviewed some of the principal sources of qin music as well as illustrated catalogs of qin exhibitions and of well-known private collections of qin. But he said that the most important materials are the collection of articles and early qin handbooks reprinted in Qinqu Jicheng and Tong Kin-Woon's Qin Fu (Qin Storehouse); the qin biographies in Zhu Changwen's Qin Shi and Zhou Qingyin's Qin Shi Xu and Qin Shi Bu; and Zha Fuxi's modern index Cunjian Guqin Qupu Jilan. Most important for background information on qin melodies are the encyclopedic dictionaries Zhongwen Dacidian and Hanyu Dacidian. Also important are many of the classical texts and, where available, their translations. Afterwards, in a second-floor sitting room, Ming-mei gave a performance of "Ping Sha Luo Yan ("Geese Descending to a Sandbank") in the version in the Jiao An Qin Pu (Qin Handbook of the Banana Hut) of 1868. Eventually, everyone returned to the first floor, where Stephen fired up a computer to show us his preliminary design for a proposed NYQS website. He asked for and received comments and criticisms as to the present design and where to go from there. Of particular concern were how to title categories of information accessible at our site and what kinds of information should go under each title. Each category would be accessible via a button on the home page.

Holly, Alan, Jung-ping, Suzanne, Mingmei, Elaine, and Stephen view one of John's handscrolls.
As the members gathered around his dining room table, John discussed paintings and other illustrated materials that depict qin performances, a favorite interest of his. In China, qin players generally came from the literati class who wrote poems, painted, and calligraphed. John likens the scholar's traditional "elegant gathering" to a modem multimedia event, for it might feature all these arts together. At our meeting, John tried to show some of the multimedia possibilities involving scrolls and other art objects.

Marilyn, Matthew, John, Holly Stephen and Alan look over texts in John's library.
John estimates (unscientifically) that, if a music instrument occurs in a Chinese landscape painting, there is more than a 90% chance it is a qin. Many are unaware of how common this instrument is in literati culture, in part because the qin is often shown wrapped in a case and carried by a scholar or his " qin boy. " John has copies of many such paintings, including those lining the stairs to his third floor study and several new items in scroll format.

Of more interest to him, however, are paintings that share themes with qin melodies. Thus, over the player piano in the living room is a modern painting of two scholars saying goodbye over a cup of wine inscribed with Wang Wei's poem "Wei Cheng," which also has been set to the popular melody "Yangguan Sandie." In the dining room is a copy of a painting after Su Dongpo's "Red Cliff" (the original is in the National Palace Museum, Taipei) inscribed with one of the two poems on this theme by Su. John has reconstructed the setting of "Red Cliff" to a qin melody in theTaiguYiyin (1515). Also in the dining room is a vase bearing 18 cranes with the inscription "18 scholars" (in classical Chinese, the pronunciation of "crane" is like that of "scholar" ).

John points out sources of information on the qin.
After obtaining this vase, John learned the melody "18 Scholars Ascend Yingzhou" (from the Faming Qinpu, 1531). In an upstairs guest room, which also has a qin and qin table, is a copy of a painting of goblets floating along a stream at a scholars' gathering. In this connection, John has reconstructed the melody "Liu Shang" ("Boating Goblets," a version of the popular melody "Jiu Kuang") from the Xilutang Qintong 1549. Most of his graphic art featuring the qin, however, is on handscrolls that John displays when playing a relevant piece. His collection of paintings emphasizes those with themes of the melodies in the Shen Qi Mi Pu (1425), his major research project, including "Huo Lin," "Yi Lan," "Gao Shan Liu Shui," "Chu Ge." "Zhi Zhao Fei" and "Qiuyue Zhao Mooting."

He also has paintings related to later melodies. Of particular note were two scrolls, each about 10 yards long, by the Hangzhou artist Bai Yunli. One is "Hujia Shibapai ("Eighteen Songs of a Nomad Flute"). The other was "Yu Ge" ("Song of the Fisherman," also in 18 sections). The 18 sections of each scroll correspond with 18 sections in the qin melodies. The melody corresponding to the first scroll is "Da Hujia" in the Shen Qi Mi Pu; while that corresponding to the second scroll is "Yu Ge" in the Xilutang Qintong. As John played each section of these two melodies, the scrolls were unrolled, and Holly read the inscriptions for each section of the melody in English, Jung-Ping in Chinese. The "Hujia" scroll is a copy of the version in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. John had Bai Yunii copy this work from its reproduction in Eighteen Songs of a Nomad Flute (Metropolitan Museum of Art). This work also includes scenes from another version of the work in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. The "Yu Ge" scroll is based on a scroll in the Freer Gallery, Washington, "Yu Fu Tu" by Wu Zhen. The scenes in this scroll are accompanied by poems by Wu Zhen. These poems, however, do not match the titles of the qin melody "Yu Ge," so John asked Bai to do a scroll in a style comparable to Wu Zhen's but with scene titles from the qin melody.

Mingmei plays "Ping Sha Luo Yan" as John watches.
Several members added to Ming-mei's performance earlier in the meeting by playing some of their own. Marilyn played "Three Variations on the Tune "Plum Blossoms," for example, while Jung-Ping performed "I Gu Ren" ("Memories of an Old Friend"). Toward the end of the meeting, Jung-Ping demonstrated the art of calligraphy, inking examples of the five basic script types. He brushed characters in zhuan shu (seal script), Li shu (clerical script), kai shu (standard script), xing shu (running script), and cao shu (cursive script) for the members' appreciation.

Afterwards, there were several parallel conversation about a number of topics, especially the types and scheduling of meetings for 2002. There was some debate as to whether the Society should hold two public meetings or conferences rather than the one that was held in 2001. After some consideration, the consensus seemed to favor holding just one, probably toward the end of the year to allow ample time to prepare for it.

Members: Alan J. Berkowitz, Alex Chao, Peiyou Chang, Stephen Dydo, Matthew Flannery, Holly Grinnell, Willow Hai, Shida Kuo, Bo Lawergren, John Thompson, Marilyn Wong Gleysteen, Yuan Jung-Ping

Copyright © 2002 New York Qin Society. All rights reserved.