The Ten Maxims of the Qin 琴言十則

Ten Maxims of the Qin (Qin Yan Shi Ze 琴言十則) was written by a rationalist Neo-Confucian, Wu Cheng (1249 - 1333) in China, Yuan dynasty 元理學家 吳澄:

1, When laying the qin on a table, give enough space for the right hand to be able to turn the tunning pegs. Sit opposite the 5th dot, so the left and right hands can move freely.

2, The right hand plays not farther to the left than the 4th dot. Playing near the Yue mountain will create the right sound. The right hand finger techniques cannot be floating, nor heavy and muddy. The right hand should play lightly and the left hand should press the strings down firmly.

3, When playing qin, regardless if there is a listener around, one should comport oneself as playing to a superior. The body has to be straight, the mind has to be at rest and the spirit has to be clear. The look concentrated, the thought serene. Then the fingers naturally won't play a wrong string or missed note.

4, One prefers to creat a simple sound yet natural. Its wonderfulness based on the right strength and the right speed of the finger technique. If the finger technique is clumsy and poor, the speed and rhythm are loose and laziy or adds many specious effects and creates irritating tones, all these are a deficiency of playing qin that one has to avoid.

5, The essential quality of the qin is simple and quiet without adding extra sounds, based on the idea that one should be careful about one's hand gestures so the appearance is worth watching. When pressing down the strings, one should carefully distingusih if it is giving a flesh sound or nail sound. The finger movements have to be linked up correctly. If each finger technique such as Bo, Zuo, Fu, Li and the gestures of the palm and wrist do not follow the way, one has not yet achieved the wonderful finger technique. Even if one can play, it means nothing.

6, The Qin's character tends toward loftiness. If one plays qin with a frivolous mien, wandering eyes, hunchback, overlapped feet, shaking head and swinging shoulder, then an inelegant atmosphere is created. Those movements should be noticed and forbidden. Moreover, if one plays qin with an uneasy sentiment and produces many mistakes, one should give up playing qin altogether.

7, Ancient people composed qin music to express their emotion, feelings, sorrow or indignation. One must understand the meaning of the tune. If one is playing qin only to create the sound but playing contrary to the meaning of the tune, how then will the ancient mood and melody be found between the silk and wood?

8, The essence of Qin learning regards proficiency very highly. If one learns many tunes at one time, one will not be proficient. If one learns several tunes from a master, one should practice them again and again in order not to forget the tune and the meaning of the tune. Besides, wonderful music comes from practicing well . This is what is meant by the saying that 'self satisfaction is derived from constant attention to the strings'. Otherwize, learning too many tunes, there should be too many failues, as if thorns grew on one's fingers.

9, There is a saying: 'Rigidly observe the rites by respecting the Way.' When it is windy, raining, and when in a market, one does not play qin. When meeting friends who understand the music, ascending a storied building, climbing a mountain and resting in a valley, sitting on a rock and tarrying by a stream, in the two clear and comfortable seasons, all these are the right people, right timing and right place for playing Qin. On the contrary, when meeting a vulgar man, a courtesan, an actor, a drunken, dirty and noisy environment, all these are bad surroundings for playing qin. One should carefully choose the right atmosphere to play the Qin.

10, To play the qin is to cultivate one's nature, not to acquire fame. Therefore, one plays qin for someone who has a kindred spirit, otherwise it is better to return the qin to its bag for one's own enjoyment. If one plays qin for those who have no kindred spirit and to vulgar and boastful people, one should feel ashamed and quickly conceal the fact that one plays the Qin.

In Chinese:

一置琴案上 軫前須容掌許 以便轉軫 身坐正對五徽 則左右手往來通便

一彈絃不得過四徽 蓋近岳則聲實故也 下指不得浮漂 亦不得重濁 入絃欲淺 按絃欲實

一鼓琴時無問有人無人 常如對長者在前 身須端直 且神鮮意閒 視專思靜 自然指不虛下 絃不錯鳴

一取聲欲淡 又欲自然 其妙在於輕重切當 緩急得宜 若布指拙惡 節奏疏懶 與豔巧多端 聲調煩雜 皆琴之疵缪 不可不戒

一琴資簡靜 無曾容聲 然須理會手勢 則威宜可觀 若按絃不問甲肉 前指不復後指 而且擘 撮 拂 歷 掌腕蹲探無法 是尚未得妙指 雖在彈 悉以為哉

一琴品欲高 若撫琴時色變視流 甚至傴身疊足 搖手舞脣 氣象殊覺不雅 即知而禁之 則又神情不暢 瑕釁叢生 不如已之可也

一古人製曲 或遺情自適 或憂憤傳心 須要視其意旨 若徒取聲 則情與製違 古人風調何有於絲桐之間

一學貴專精 多則便不能精 如從名師學得數曲 當時時調弄 既不失其遺意 而且妙音出於熟習 所謂密爾自娛於斯弦也 不然多學多廢 甯免手生荊棘何

一曰盡禮以尊其道 如風 雨 市廛不彈是也 至遇知音 升樓閣 登山憩谷 坐石遊泉 值二氣之清朗 皆際勝而宜於琴者 反是 而對俗子娼優 與夫酒穢塵囂 皆惡景也 自當善藏其用

一彈琴養性 非取必於人知 故有好而邀者宜為一鼓 不則囊琴自適而已 若奏曲不好之前 與誇能流俗之士 亦幾無恥 亟須韜誨

Back To Main Menu
Copyright @ 2001-2013 Judy (Pei-You) Chang