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Yueshu 樂書

Dec 15, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

There are several books with the title Yueshu 樂書 "Book of music", the first one written by Xin Dufang 信都芳 (mid-7th cent., courtesy name Yulin 玉琳), and the second, a kind of encyclopaedia, by Chen Yang 陳暘 (1064-1128, courtesy name Jinzhi 晉之). Li Wenji 李文察 (c. 1493-1563), a Ming-period 明 (1368-1644) scholar, wrote a book Yueshu. Finally, Yueshu is the title of a treatise on music (ch. 24) in the universal history Shiji 史記.

Xin Dufang was an excellent mathematician. He became a retainer of Yuan Yanming 元延明 (484-530), the Prince of Anfeng 安豐王, together with whom he collected ancient texts on music and commented on them. When the Prince had to flee for political reasons, Xin Dufang continued this work and compiled the book Yueshu. According to the bibliographic chapter Jingji zhi 經籍志in the official dynastic history Suishu 隋書, this Yueshu was 7-juan long, but the bibliographical chapters in the histories Jiutangshu 舊唐書 and Xintangshu 新唐書 speak of 9 juan. The book thereafter was lost, but twelve fragments were collected by Ma Guohan 馬國翰 (1794-1857) from the Song period 宋 (960-1279) encyclopaedia Taiping yulan 太平御覽. One fragment deals with pitchpipes, one with ancient music, and the rest with musical instruments. They are included in Ma Guohan's reprint series Yuhanshanfang jiyi shu 玉函山房輯佚書.

Chen Yang's Yueshu (also called Chen Yang Yueshu 陳暘樂書) was finished in 1101, after forty years of compilation. It is a sister-book to the Lishu 禮書, a compilation by Chen Yang's elder brother Chen Xiangdao 陳祥道 (1053-1093), who had originally been entrusted with the compilation of the Yueshu, but was overburdened with the two books. The Yueshu was first printed in 1199. It is 200-juan long and has a special index of 20 juan. In the first half (juan 1-95, entitled Xunyi 訓義) the author quotes extensively from the Confucian Classics about the Confucian theory and idea of music. Chen Yang annotated and explained each paragraph. The second half of the book (96-200, entitled Yuetulun 樂圖論) presents his own theory of music, with an in-depth explanation of the construction and functioning of the pitchpipes (lülü 律呂), the musical keys (gongdiao 宮調), musical forms (yuezhang 樂章) through the ages, dance, play (baixi 百戲), musical instruments, the composition of music and its use for certain court and sacrificial rituals, and the music of the "barbarian" peoples. Musical instruments are divided according to two different criteria, here the environment of their use (yabu 雅部 "instruments for elegant performances", hubu 胡部 "instruments of the barbarians", and subu 俗部 "instruments of the common folks"), and there, on a lower level, according to the material (called bayin 八音 "eight types of tone", namely metal, stone, earth, leather, silk, bamboo, gourd, and wood). The whole section describes 462 musical instruments and is richly illustrated. Also in this part, Chen quotes from older texts, and was therefore highly admired by the bibliographer Chen Zhensun 陳振孫 (Zhizhai shulu jieti 直齋書錄解題). Unfortunately the text includes quite a few errors, so that the original texts have to be used with great care.

Chen Yang's Yueshu is the oldest surviving complete text on musical theory in China, except for the Huangyou xinyue tuji 皇祐新樂圖記 that also dates from the Song period. The scholarly value of the Yueshu is therefore very high. Lou Yue 樓鑰 (1137-1213) wrote a critical commentary on the book called Yueshu zhengwu 樂書正誤. Chen Yang's Yueshu is to be found in the imperial series Siku quanshu 四庫全書.

Sources:
Dai Ning 戴寧 (1996). "Yueshu 樂書", in Zhou Gucheng 周谷城, ed. Zhongguo xueshu mingzhu tiyao 中國學術名著提要, Yishu 藝術卷 (Shanghai: Fudan daxue chubanshe), 68.
Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰, ed. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 1, 628.
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1987). Jianming Zhongguo guji cidian 簡明中國古籍辭典 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 263.
Zhao Hankun 趙含坤, ed. (2005). Zhongguo leishu 中國類書 (Shijiazhuang: Hebei renmin chubanshe), 92.

Further reading:
Filipiak, Yu (2015). Chen Yangs Darstellung der "barbarischen" Musikinstrumente im Buch der Musik (Yueshu): Ein Beitrag zur Erforschung des Musiklebens am Kaiserhof der Song-Dynastie (960-1279) (Großheirath: Ostasien Verlag) [with translation of the chapters on "barbarian" musical instruments].
Guo Shijin 郭世錦 (2015). "Qianxi Chen Yang Yueshu dui gu yueqi yanjiu de lishi jiazhi 淺析《陳暘樂書》對古樂器研究的歷史價值", Yinyue tiandi 音樂天地, 2015 (3).
Liu Yong 劉勇 (2016). "Chen Yang Yueshu yueqi chatu zhong de ruogan wenti 陳暘《樂書》樂器插圖中的若干問題", Zhongyang Yinyue Xueyuan xuebao 中央音樂學院學報, 2016 (8).
Liu Zhen 劉振 (2018). "Beisong Chen Yang Yueshu guanyu xiqin jizai de wenxian jiexi 北宋陳暘《樂書》關於“奚琴”記載的文獻解析", Dazhong wenyi 大眾文藝, 2018 (1).
Lu Xiaotong 陸曉彤 (2019). "Yueshu bayin yuelüxue cuowu kanzheng: Jian lun Chen Yang de yinyue shuiping ji Yueshu wenxian jiazhi 《樂書•八音》樂律學錯誤勘正—兼論陳暘的音樂水平及《樂書》文獻價值", Zhongguo yinyuexue 中國音樂學, 2019 (1).
Miao Jianhua 苗建華 (1992). "Chen Yang Yueshu chengshu niandai kao 陳暘《樂書》成書年代考", Yinyue yanjiu 音樂研究, 1992 (6).
Miao Jianhua 苗建華 (1999). "Chen Yang Yueshu de lishi jiazhi 陳晠《樂書》的歷史價值", Zhongguo yinyue 中國音樂, 1999 (12).
Shan Lei 單蕾 (2008). "Qingdai yiqian cunjian de Chen Yang Yueshu banben zhuangkuang 清代以前存見的陳暘《樂書》版本狀況", Zhongguo yinyuexue 中國音樂學, 2008 (1).
Sun Shumin 孫樹敏 (2015). "Beisong yinyue lilunjia Chan Yang ji qi Yueshu de yingxiang kaojiu 北宋音樂理論家陳暘及其《樂書》的影響考究", Lantai shijie 蘭台世界, 2015 (2).
Xu Zaiyang 許在揚 (2008). "Chen Yang ji qi Yueshu yanjiu zhong de yi xie wenti 陳暘及其《樂書》研究中的一些問題", Huangzhong 黄鐘, 2008 (4).
Zheng Changling 鄭長鈴 (1999). "Zai tianye zhong zoujin Chen Yang: Guanyu Chen Yang ji qi Yueshu yanjiu de minzu yinyuexue fangfa xuanze yu sikao 在田野中走近陳暘—關於陳暘及其《樂書》研究的民族音樂學方法選擇與思考", Zhongguo yinyuexue 中國音樂學, 2005 (10).