Imagining the Sounds of the Early Modern Pipa:
A Dialogue between History and Practice, Music and Materiality
June 7th, 2015
Judith T. Zeitlin 蔡九迪，East Asian Languages & Civilizations and Theater & Performance
Studies, Willliam R. Kenan, Jr. Professor, University of Chicago
YAO Chen 姚晨，Associate Professor in Composition, Suzhou University of Music
LAN Weiwei 兰维薇，Associate Professor in Pipa Performance, Central Conservatory of Music
Judith T. Zeitlin 蔡九迪，芝加哥大学，东亚语言与文明学系、戏剧与表演学系 Willliam R. Kenan, Jr.教授
This international, interdisciplinary symposium to be held at the University of Chicago Center in Beijing is part of an innovative multi-year collaborative project on the intersection of scholarship and the arts.
Despite the fact that musicologists hail the early modern period (the Ming-mid-Qing dynasties), as a key moment in the development of the pipa, there is relatively little scholarship on the instrument in this epoch, while the contemporary pipa has been so modified as to be quite a different instrument in crucial respects. The aim of the Beijing symposium is to bring together historians of Chinese literature, material culture, and musicology, with contemporary musicians, composers, and instrument makers to collectively try to imagine the sounds of the early modern pipa. By “imagine” we mean putting into dialogue two approaches usually kept quite separate: reconstruction and revival. Reconstruction in this context entails pursuing scholarly research methods to investigate how the early modern instrument might have sounded, the symbolism and cultural significance of extant instruments and their decoration, the kinds of repertory played, the relationships between performers and patrons, and the venues and occasions on which the instrument was played. Revival, on the other hand, means enlisting contemporary performers, composers, and instrument makers to recreate the early modern pipa as a sounding object to be experienced in our contemporary world. The symposium will therefore culminate in a recital by co-organizer and pipa virtuoso LAN Weiwei , some of which will be played on a “Ming-style” pipa, inspired an extraordinary late Ming pipa in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. (For images of the instrument, see: http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/50.145.74)
The recital will include an expanded version of apiece specifically composed for a “Ming-style” pipa by co-organizer Yao Chen, which had its premiere on Jun 1, 2014 at the Smart Museum of Art in Chicago. This recital will be held in the intimate event space at the University of Chicago Center in Beijing to evoke the “refined gathering (yaji 雅集), one of the most important formats pipa music was experienced in the early modern period.
10:00am-11:00am Roundtable I.: Playing Opera on the Pipa
Moderator: Jia Guoping
Discussants: Lan Weiwei, Yao Chen, Xiao Xiangping
11:15am-12:00pm Roundtable II.: Making of Pipa
Moderator: Cao Weidong
Discussants: Fang Suxin and Wang Geng
(Vegetarian Bento from Tianchu Miaoxiang )
1:00pm-3:00pm Panel I: Recovering the Ming Pipa: Literary and Material
Chair: Xiang Yang
1. Judith Zeitlin, A Ming pipa in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Toward a reconstruction of its literary, historical, and theatrical context
2. Thomas Kelly, Inscriptions on String and Wind Instruments from the Late Ming
3. Tu Chieh-Ming，Exploring the Sounds of the Thirteen Tone Pipa in the Tainan Confucian Temple
3:30pm-6:00pm Panel II: Recovering the Ming Pipa: Music and Performance
Chair: Zhang Boyu
1. Yu Siu Wah，The Chinese Plucked lute Pipa: Its Reception in China and the issue of Music Notation
2. Hai Zhen，Pipa, String Instruments and Northern Music: Examining the Pipa from the Perspective of Opera
3. Cheng Hsi-ho，Searching for the Lost Sounds of the Pipa
4. Joseph Lam，Music of Reminiscence: Theory and Practice for Research and Performance of
6:30pm Dinner(Mashi Jiubao, Second floor at Cultural Plaza)
10:00am-11:00am 圆桌讨论专题1: 琵琶谈戏
11:15am-12:00pm 圆桌讨论专题2: 琵琶的製作—曹卫东
12:00pm-1:00pm 午餐 (素食盒饭)
1:00pm-3:00pm Panel I: 尋找明代琵琶的印記：文學與物質文化
3. 杜潔明， 從時空交錯的音樂組合探台南孔廟十三音的琵琶音響呈現
3:30pm-6:00pm Panel II: 重構明代琵琶的聲音：音樂與演奏
2. 海震, 琵琶、弦索及北曲——从戏曲角度对明代琵琶的观察
6:30pm 晚餐 (马仕玖煲，文化大厦二层)
琵琶弹戏: 西厢记三折 2014－2015 姚晨作品
琵琶因为其右手丰富的弹挑扫拂和左手细腻多变的推拉吟揉，可能是最能表现和演绎“情”的中国乐器——不管是才子佳人的情爱，还是将相武士的铁血丹心。 作为一个有情的乐器，琴弦就是心弦， 弹挑吟揉则撩动了心弦。
作品的灵感来自于在纽约大都会博物馆珍藏的一把明代琵琶。 在这把琵琶的缚弦上，雕刻了一幅王实甫西厢记中的“遊殿奇逢”。我立刻想到用琵琶弹唱说戏的形式来创作这个作品。 作品的前两折“惊艳”和“琴心”是由芝加哥大学Judith Zeitlin教授和芝加哥斯马特艺术馆联合委约的，2014年6月1日由琵琶演奏家兰维薇在芝加哥斯马特艺术馆首演。兰维薇在演奏琵琶的同时亲自开嗓演绎了张生与崔莺莺二角。2015年五月我添写了第三折“长亭”并邀请了苏州昆剧院的吕佳和北方昆曲剧院的萧向平加入这场2015年6月6日在北京的实景剧场“琵琶弹戏: 西厢记三折”。
“惊艳”来自第一本 “张君瑞闹道场”，“琴心” 来自第二本 “崔莺莺夜听琴”。“长亭” 则来自第四本“草桥店梦莺莺”。“惊艳“这一折用明代4相12品琵琶与昆生来演绎张生游普救寺奇逢崔莺莺美貌时的情开心动；“琴心”这一折则用6相24品的当代琵琶与昆旦来演绎崔莺莺深夜被张生的琴声撩动心绪，倾吐其爱慕情愁。 “长亭”又重新用回气沉音沱的明代琵琶与昆生旦一起来讲述崔莺莺十里长亭送张生进京赶考凄美哽咽的别离场景，恋人短暂的欢愉后即将饱尝别离相思。
4. 形式的 探索与生命力
Cao Weidong, Chinese instrument maker and repairer of antique instruments, specializing in stringed instruments, especially the pipa
Cao Weidong, a master craftsman of Chinese musical instruments, graduated with honors from the Beijing Instrument-Making School in 1987, and immediately entered the Chinese stringed instrument division of the Beijing Musical Instrument Factory. During this time, he also studied with several famous elder craftsmen, such as Man Duanxing, Sun Qingtang, and Zhang Shouyi, who specialized in making pipa, guqin (zither), and huqin (fiddle). Cao eventually developed his own distinct style as an instrument maker and is especially renowned for his artistry as a pipa maker. His pipa have won first prize in many national competitions for Chinese musical instrument makers. In recent years, he has devoted himself to researching and replicating antique musical instruments, including the five-string, straight-necked Tang dynasty pipa, the bent-neck Tang dynasty pipa, the Yuan dynasty swallow-tail style pipa, and an adaptation of the Ming dynasty phoenix-tail style pipa. For their beautiful appearance, timbre, and stage quality, his replicas have received acclaim from pipa performers and audiences alike. The Ming-style pipa played in today’s recital is his design and handiwork.
Tu Chieh-ming/ Du Jieming, pipa performer, Director, Tainan Confucius Temple Cultural Foundation; Head and Music Director, “Tainan music collection”; Teacher, Department of Chinese Music, Tainan National University of the Arts; Music Teacher, Department of Music , Tainan University of Technology
Tu Chieh-Ming, a pipa virtuoso and an educator, Tainan Taiwan born on January 3, 1958, received his Bachelor’s Degree in Pipa performance from the Chinese music group under Music Department at Chinese Culture University, and got his Master’s Degree from graduate institute of Aesthetic and Art Management at Nan Hua University, was one of the first generation of professional performers cultivated by university system of Taiwan, studying pipa under Cheng Si-Sun and Lin Ku-Fang. Since 1990, Tu went to Beijing for learning and further studying the arts of Pipa schools under Wang Fan-De and Lin Shi-Cheng. From 1986, Tu continually held seven recitals, including the “Lingering Aroma of the Strings.” Absorbing in folk music of Taiwan since his early age, Tu not only contributed himself into instruction of pipa performance, promotion of Chinese music but also into conservation of traditional Taiwan music. At the aspect of academic research, he has published many papers concerning related topics, such as The Phenomena of Instruction in Traditional Instruments in Taiwan, Research of Music Bureau in Tainan Confucius Temple ─Yi Cheng Classical Learning Academy, Study on Backstage Music of Taiwanese Traditional Shadow Puppet Drama, Comparison between Beiguan Xianpu and ShiSan Yin. In March 2014, he founded Tainan Musical Ensemble and served as general as well as music director. Tu was commissioned as president of Tainan Society for Ethnomusicology, now serving as director of Tainan Confucian Temple Cultural Foundation, musical leader and executive director of Yi Cheng Classical Learning Academy, and currently teaches at Chinese Music department of National Tainan University of Arts, and Music department of Tainan University of Technology etc.
Exploring the Sounds of the Thirteen Tone Pipa in the Tainan Confucian Temple
The Confucian Temple, from the era of Dong Zhongshu onwards, has become both a revered cultural totem among the educated and a major cultural symbol for the rulers of successive dynasties. The Confucian Temple in Tainan as the most highly esteemed in Taiwan bears witness to how under the cultural symbolism, political leaders have both entice and win over intellectuals. During the era of the civil service examinations, this institution was not only a school but was also the setting for exams, and most importantly it is a “life-line” that can transform commoners into ministers.
The performance of ritual, seen from the outside is based on music, but the core of music is based on ritual. This is the two-sided nature of the ritual-music of liyue system. The system governs the entire Confucian ritual program; therefore, the department that executes the rituals, the office of ritual music (liyue ju), is a necessary part of any Confucian temple. However, among the many Confucian temples in Taiwan, only the temple in Tainan has an office of ritual music, which is instead called an academy (shuyuan).
As the civil service examinations were abolished, the academy, which was initially only accessible to graduates, slowly became a place where local gentry, merchants and itinerant peddlers were able to congregate. Therefore, the sanctity of the academy gradually waned. While this might have led to a degree of cultural antagonism between different social groups, in the music troupe there are different musicians from different musical lineages and systems. Therefore we can see how elite music and folk music became intermixed.
Whether the transformation of the “musical office” (yueju) was influenced by politics needs to be further addressed. Since Ming Zhenghe times when the yueju was established by Chen Yonghua in 1665, the nature of the yueju, which once belonged to the Confucian temple changed over the course of time. It is responsible for the ritual music of the Confucian sacrifice program and yet it has already become a society for folk music, switching between the sacred and the secular.
In Han culture, traditional folk sizhu music reflects the lives of the daily people and among the types of music that have been defined as traditional, we see no records of the thirteen tones. Yet we can find information on the thirteen tones in the lively records of the past hundred years of the academy. It is the product of immigrant culture and yet from the perspective of local Taiwanese it can be called the classical music of Taiwan. The musical instruments come from different times and spaces and this mixture presents a distinct type of beauty in the sound of the music. The Qing dynasty folk pipa was confined through its construction to the thirteen tones, yet how was it able to break through these confinements. The writer, as someone who has been a musician at the academy for more than a decade, will want to discuss how a traditional folk music society consisting of different types of musicians, evolved over a hundred years under the culture of Confucianism.
關鍵詞:台南孔廟 以成書院 十三音
Fang Suxin, Founders, Suxin Silk Strings, a firm that has revived traditional Chinese methods of manufacturing silk strings for guqin and pipa
Ms Suxin Fang, a lay Buddhist, founder of Suxin Silk Strings. She is world’s only ice silk string maker.
Suxin Fang is the only silk string maker that restored the entire process of traditional silk string making, from choosing the right cocoon to making the strings. Ice silk string has been discontinued for almost a hundred years and Suxin Silk strings totally matched the description of this best historical silk strings: smooth, translucent, high tension, tough. Suxin Silk Strings is widely acclaimed from guqin experts and qin players around the world and is considered to be of the highest quality in history. Some great qin masters begins to play Suxin Silk Strings and the strings are sold worldwide.
Silk strings, handmade by Ms Fang, has been on display or collected in museums in the world, such as Beijing Capital Museum, MIM – Musical Instrument Museum in Arizona, etc. After Ms Fang restored the ice silk string, she built world’s only custom-made silk string studio, according to a very old fashion in Chinese music history “custom strings for custom instruments”. She made custom silk strings for famous musical instruments such as guqin, pipa, erhu and various kinds of ethno-musical instruments. Suxin Silk Strings made great contribution for reforming Chinese historical music, which has over three-thousand-year history. It will significantly go down in music history of world’s stringed instrument.
Wang Geng, Founders, Suxin Silk Strings, a firm that has revived traditional Chinese methods of manufacturing silk strings for guqin and pipa
Geng Wang, musician, multi-instrumentalist. Geng studied physics in his Bachelor and PhD, and plays piano, guqin and flute professionally. He was the editor of non-profit guqin organization “Chinese Guqin Newspaper” for years. Geng joined the later period of Suxin Silk Strings research and he gave theoretical support and collected rare information for strings around the world. Geng, along with Ms Fang, successfully restored the highest quality silk strings – ice string, the third generation Suxin Silk strings. He is the core member of Suxin Silk Strings.
The traditional manufacturing of silk strings
Throughout history, almost all musical instruments have periodically been adapted and developed. In the two to three thousand-year history of the qin, however, the strings have only once been comprehensively altered. In the twentieth century, silk or sheep innards strings were replaced by nylon metal strings. Chinese literati and musicians lamented the loss of silk strings not only for their rich cultural heritage, but also for their superior tone. Silk strings were perceived as more harmonious and as fulfilling the “union of man and nature,” a central precept in traditional Chinese aesthetics.
Historically, the best silk strings were made during the Ming dynasty. Li Shiying made silk strings named “ice strings,” which were identified as an imperial tribute. From the closure of companies in the first half of the twentieth century until now, only Suxin Silk Strings has produced strings of a quality that comes close to Ming dynasty ice strings. During our talk, we will discuss the distinctive manufacturing process and physical properties of our recovered silk strings.
历史上制作丝弦的高峰在明代。明代李世英生产丝弦, 所造的弦叫‘冰弦’, 指定为内府贡品。在二十世纪上半叶关门倒闭后至今，只有素心一家做出了接近明代丝弦品质的蚕丝冰弦。在我们的演讲中，我们会讲述蚕丝琴弦的制作与物理特性。
Hai Zhen, Chinese ethnomusicology, National Academy of Chinese Theatre
Hai Zhen is Professor in the Department for Music at the National Academy of Chinese Theater Arts. He is the Head of the Academy Library and Deputy Director of the Academic Committee. He graduated from the graduate school of the Chinese Academy of Arts with both MA and PhD. He has been a visiting professor at the Chinese Department of Taiwan National Central University and has been a visiting scholar at the Institute for Literature and Philosophy at Academica Sinica in Taiwan. He was also been a visiting scholar at the Center for Chinese Studies at Michigan University in the United States. His main research interests include the history of opera music, operatic melodies and musical styles, and trans-cultural theater. He is the author of “A History of Operatic Music” and has translated “An Illustrated History of Chinese Theater.”
Pipa, String Instruments and Northern Music:
Examining the Pipa from the Perspective of Opera
In his History of Chinese Traditional Music, the distinguished scholar Yang Yinliu offers a succinct discussion of the pipa, string instruments and their relationship to Northern Music (beiqu) in the Ming dynasty. However, a more comprehensive analysis needs to go further in examining issues related to contemporary operatic performance.
In the Yuan dynasty, the pipa was the most important instrument for the accompaniment of Northern songs and sanqu. Sun Xuanling has discussed in some detail the records in the “Collection of the Blue Bowers” and descriptions in Yuan sanqu in his study, “Music of Yuan sanqu.” It seems as if the pipa was infrequently used as accompaniment for the performance of Yuan variety plays (zaju), but there are images of pipa players in painted murals of Yuan dynasty zaju troupes. Issues related to this topic await further research.
The pipa proved to be the main accompaniment instrument for Northern Music in the Ming dynasty. There is information on the performance of Ming dynasty northern songs among the historical materials on opera. However, the analysis of materials on Ming dynasty accompaniment for northern song in Yang Yinliu’s History of Chinese Traditional Music is constrained by the conditions of the overtly political environment of the 60s and 70s. A more comprehensive understanding of the circumstances surrounding Ming dynasty northern musical accompaniment must proceed from a deeper analysis of related historical materials on performance content, form, and location.
The use of instruments as accompaniment for operatic performance was not just an issue of music; it was also closely related to issues regarding the form of the sung performance and the space for performance. For instance, Yuan zaju made use of flutes, drums, and clappers as accompaniment, while the sung performance of Yuan sanqu relied on the pipa and other strummed instruments and did not necessarily make use of clappers. These are clear examples of this problem.
Ming literati tend to offer quite general statements in their discussions of instrumentation used as accompaniment for southern and northern sung performance. For instance: “the strength of the north lies in strings, the strength of the south is the clapper.” Examined from the perspective of music, it is easy to see the vague nature of such rhetoric. In actuality, the relationship of the pipa and other accompaniment instruments to northern music was not so much an issue of northern or southern music as it was a matter of singing style, sung content and performance location.
In the mid- and late- Ming dynasty the use of the sanxian (three-stringed lute) became increasingly important. The term “string instrumentation” in historical materials starts to refer predominantly to the sanxian. This becomes particularly the case with accompaniment for Southern Music and Kunqu. The emergence of a “string instrument mode” (xiansuo diao) seems to be a turning point. Lu Yingkun has an article that discusses in depth this “string instrument mode.” Later on, singers of short songs use pipa and sanxian together, yet regional divergences become more apparent.
How can we see the history behind textual sources and images? This is a major challenge for researchers and is also one of the objectives of historical research. Even research on traditional instruments and musical notation is like this. How can we pass from musical instruments and notation to research the history of music? This is not an easily managed task for the researcher of musical history and methods, approaches and concepts all await deeper investigation.