Daoist Music in the Northeast
Content and form
The Daoist music of the Complete Perfection Tradition ( 全真道 Quanzhen Dao ) of the Northeast consists of vocal music and instrumental music. Practically speaking, vocal music is the major form while instrumental music is the auxiliary form. The scriptural rhyme adopted in vocal music is "the new rhythm of the northeast", which is called the Northeastern Rhythm ( 東北韻 Dongbei Yun ) within Daoism.
The Northeastern Rhyme
The Northeastern Rhythm came into existence in modern times. Daoist priests say that over a hundred years ago lived the two Kan brothers, who were formerly actors of traditional operas. As they were unsuccessful, they went to the Temple of Infinity ( 無量觀 Wuliang Guan ) on Mt Qian to grow their hair long and become Daoist priests. They devoted the energies of their lifetime to the creation of the Northeastern Rhythm. Before the creation of the Northeastern Rhythm, what was spread in Daoism in the northeastern area was mainly the Mt Lao rhyme which came from Shandong. After its emergence, however, the Northeastern Rhyme soon spread in Daoism in the northeastern area. Today all the Daoist music used in temples of the Complete Perfection tradition in the northeastern area contains the Northeastern Rhythm".
Classifications and features
The Northeastern Rhythm can be classified in two ways. The first is to classify it into "Yang rhythm" and "Yin rhythm" according to the content of scriptures and the occasions of its use. Yang rhythm is also called the Divine Rhythm ( 神韻 Shenyun ), whose scriptures sing praises of the wonderland in the heavenly palace and divinities' merits and magic powers. It is used for the worship before altars in the Morning and Evening Rites ( 早晚功課 Zaowan Gongke), commemorations ( 紀念 Jinian ), Auspicious Rituals ( 吉祥道場 Jixiang Daochang ), and Water and Land Rituals ( 水陸道場 Shuilu Daochang ). Yin rhythm is also called Spirit Rhythm ( 鬼韻 Guiyun ), whose scriptures cover the salvation of souls and the wish for the souls to ascend to heaven. It is used in Water and Land Rituals and in Rites for Pardoning Orphans ( 赦孤 Shegu ).
The second type of classification is to categorize it into five major kinds of rhythm: the minor rhythm, the running horse rhythm, the penitence rhythm and the scriptural recitation rhythm, according to the features of the scriptural rhythm. No music score of the scriptural rhythms and tunes of the Northeastern Rhyme has been handed down through the ages. It is passed on from masters to disciples by word of mouth and mind-to-mind instruction, in coordination with which the Northeastern Rhythm hands down the score of a coordination of musical instruments and scriptures. The score is written in vertical lines. The characters on the left are the words of the scriptural rhymes, and the three lines on the right are the score for the playing of the musical instruments including drums, Penitence Bells, Inverted Bells ( 懺鐘 Chanzhong ) and so on.