The most important genre of performative literature of this period with extant texts is the chu-kung-tiao. According to modern taxonomy, this genre belongs to shuo-ch'ang wen-hsüeh (sing and speak [chantefable] literature), if the manner of performance is considered, and to prosimetric literature, if we look at the form of the texts. However, accounts of the twelfth to fourteenth centuries usually discuss the “all keys and modes” in the context of song, stressing its satirical essays And Chung Ssu-ch'eng (c. 1279–c. 1360) in his Lu-kuei pu (Register of Ghosts), the earliest preserved catalog of playwrights and their works, places the most prominent author of the genre, Tung Chieh-yüan (Master Tung; active c. 1190–1208), at the head of his list of san-ch'ü (see chapter 17) and tsa-chü authors. Modern studies often follow the lead of Chung Ssu-ch'eng by discussing the “all keys and modes” as a precursor of northern drama, since it marks an important stage in the development of song, viz., in the change from tz'u to (northern) ch'ü.

The most popular form of song in the eleventh and twelfth centuries was the tz'u (lyric; see chapter 15). Lyric tunes most often consisted of two stanzas, but a few very popular lyric tunes consisted of only one stanza, while a still smaller number of tunes consisted of three stanzas. Longer suites were created by repeating, according to a fixed scheme, the same tune over and over again, repetition of the same tune bringing along variation in melody and tempo. One of the forms created in this manner was the ku-tzu-tz'u (drum lyrics). Many texts in this form were written to accompany ballets. However, the form could also be used for narrative purposes by interspersing the songs with prose. Dating from the final years of the Northern Sung (960–1127) is an adaptation of the T'ang poet Yüan Chen's (779–831) “Ying-ying chuan” (Story of Ying-ying) in this format by Chao Ling-chih (1051–1134). One other later example of narrative drum lyrics has been preserved in an early collection of hua-pen. It has been argued that it may have been composed originally as a prelude to a (lost) hsiwen or ch'uan-ch'i.

The twelfth century witnessed the advent of new forms of suite formation that allowed for the combination of different tunes (in the same key or mode) into one suite. If the suite consisted of an introductory song, one or more other songs, and a coda (wei [tail]), the suite was known as ch'an-ling (intertwined tunes); if, following the introductory songs, two tunes were used alternately several times before the suite was ended by the coda, the suite was known as a ch'an-ta. In all these cases, the text of the coda consisted of three lines of seven syllables each and probably was intended to provide the suite with a witty conclusion and punch line. The Essays and Texts only ch'an-ling that has been preserved as an independent work is a description of the Sung dynasty game of “football.”

28.4.11 15:09


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