Guangling San (广陵散)

The original (relatively speaking) qin composition of Guangling San was borrowed to produce an experimental video piece by Lily & Honglei in 2005, A Moment in Beijng (excerpt below), a homage to Taoist intellectuals pursuing the spirit of freedom.

Note: The qin melody is traditionally attributed to Xi Kang(嵇 康) (223 – 262), a famous essayist and poet living in the Wei dynasty capital of Loyang, where he was one of the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove. The account here says he learned it from a ghost while stopping at Huayang Pavilion on his way to Kuaiji, but elsewhere he is said to have learned it from a qin master named Du Kui and/or his son.

In 2006, we chose Guangling San as the soundtrack of our digital animation piece, Forbidden City. Dave and Nick developed the ancient melody to a electronic musical composition thereafter.

Following is the legend of Guangling San:

According to the 2nd century book Qin Cao (Qin Music Collection), the musical composition is based on a story from the Warring States Period. The King of Han had a sword maker executed when he failed to deliver on time a sword he had commissioned him to make. His son Nie Zheng made up his mind to avenge his father’s death. He went into the mountains for ten years, learned to play the qin and became a famous qin player, giving performances all over the country. The king heard of his fame and asked him to perform in the palace. Nie Zheng thus realized his long – cherished wish to kill him. Fearing his family might be in danger if his identity were known, he afterwards mutilated his face beyond recognition and committed suicide.

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