An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Guyuefu 古樂府

Jun 9, 2022 © Ulrich Theobald

Guyuefu 古樂府 is a collection of ancient poetry in the style of the Music Bureau (see yuefu 樂府). The anthology of 10 juan length was compiled during the Yuan period 元 (1279-1368) by Zuo Keming 左克明, who hailed from Yuzhang 豫章 (today’s Nanchang 南昌, Jiangxi), and lived during the mid-14th century.

The collection is divided into eight genres, namely ancient songs (gu geyao 古歌謠), airs to drums and pipes (guchui qu 鼓吹曲), airs to traverse flues (hengchui qu 橫吹曲), airs of joint harmony (xianghe qu 相和曲), airs to the key "pure shang" (qingshang qu 清商曲), dance airs (wuqu 舞曲), airs to the zither (qinqu 琴曲), and miscellaneous airs (zaqu 雜曲). It thus follows other principles of arrangement than Guo Maoqian’s 郭茂倩 (1041—1099) Yuefu shiji 樂府詩集. While Guo categorized the poems according to their traditions (liu 流), Zuo preferred a typology based on the origins (yuan 源) of the genres. Zuo’s collection was also oriented more towards the old titles, and old rhyme and rhythm patterns. The book in the received form also includes some Ming-period 明 (1368-1644) poems, even if the collection as a whole purports to focus on pre-Tang and Tang-period 唐 (618-907) poetry.

The Guyuefu is included in the imperial series Siku quanshu 四庫全書, based on early Ming-period prints.

Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文郁, eds. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 2, 2907.
Wang Huibin 王輝斌 (2016). "Mei Dingzuo yu Guyueyuan de yuefu tijie piping 梅鼎祚與《古樂苑》的樂府題解批評", Xueshu luntan 學術論壇, 2016 (1): 106-111.
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1994). Zhongguo gu wenxian da cidian 中華古文獻大辭典, Vol. Wenxue 文學卷 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 134.