Music of the Complete Perfection Tradition

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Daoist Music
Classification and Forms of Daoist Music
Vocal Music
Instrumental Music
Musical Instruments
Schools of Daoist Music
Music of the Orthodox Oneness Tradition
Music of the Complete Perfection Tradition
Compilations of Daoist Music Scores
The Ritual of Jade Tunes
The Daoist Musical Scores Composed by Imperial Order during the Great Ming Dynasty
The Orthodox Rhythm of the Complete Perfection Tradition
Daoist Music of Different Places
The White Cloud Temple, Beijing Suzhou Mt Longhu
Mt Wudang Mt Mao Shanghai
Mt Lao Shanxi Plain Sichuan
The Northeast Taiwan Hong Kong

It has not yet been confirmed when the music of the Complete Perfection Tradition ( 全真道 Quanzhen Dao ) was formed, but its standardized and unified music did not come into being until Wang Chongyang founded the tradition. Before the formation of the tradition, its music probably had the same origin with that of other Daoist schools. It was influenced by shamanistic music and dance at first, evolved through different historical periods later, was gradually put in order and took shape, and finally, owing to the division of Daoist schools, became the music that bears the distinctive features of the Complete Perfection Tradition.


The music of the Complete Perfection Tradition is mainly used in the rituals of Religious Practice( 修持 Xiuchi ), celebrations, and prayers. The music in religious practice is the music for Morning Altar Scriptures( 早壇功課經 Zaotan Gongke Jing ) and Evening Altar Scriptures( 晚壇功課經 Wantan Gongke Jing ); the music in celebrations is mainly used in the celebrations of the birth of immortals and patriarchs; the music for prayers is mostly used in the rituals of praying for sun or rain, saving the dead souls and relieving the people, such as "feeding the hungry Ghosts" and "presenting memorials to patriarchs". The principal form of the music is vocal music, and instrumental music mainly comprised of percussion music is also used. The daily morning and evening recitation of scriptures is entirely vocal chanting, with the accompaniment of small Magical Instruments( 法器 Faqi ) such as bells, drums, Wood Blocks( 木魚 Muyu ), pans, cymbals and Inverted Bells( 磬 Qing ), and some temples add a little accompaniment with orchestral instruments. The music in the rituals of celebrating and praying is focused on vocal music, with a comparatively large-scale religious dance at times, and to match this spectacle, big magical instruments such as bells, the dabo, the danao (big cymbals) and some wind instruments are employed for accompaniment. During the rituals, some relatively independent tunes are inserted, such as the "cymbal tunes" and all kinds of short "Lively Tunes ( 耍曲 Shuaqu )" played in some temples.


The vocal music forms of the Complete Perfection Tradition include the solo, or unison, given by the High Priest ( 高功 Gaogong ) and the Chief Cantor ( 都講 Dujiang ). Instrumental music is mainly played in the form of an instrumental ensemble; solo and chongzou (an ensemble of two or more instrumentalists, each playing one part) are seldom seen. The most outstanding characteristics of the music of the Complete Perfection Tradition are its integrity and relative stability.


The transmission and inheritance of the music of the Complete Perfection Tradition have always been rigorous and standardized. The current music in the tradition has the Orthodox Tones of the Complete Perfection ( 全真正韻 Quanzhen Zhengyun ), or "The Ten-Direction Tone " ( 十方韻 Shifang Yun ) generally called by Daoist priests, as its model, and all the temples should strictly keep to this model. The tones are all transmitted orally by masters in secret, so the music remains highly unified in form. As far as the music of all the major temples of the Complete Perfection Tradition are concerned, the "Ten Direction Tones" chanted in various places are largely identical but with minor differences either in the style or in certain melodies and rhythms. Daoism has the phrase "rigid Complete Perfection", which means that the music of the Complete Perfection Tradition cannot be changed willfully and therefore forms its intrinsic features of integrity and relative stability. The music has scarcely been recorded through the generations, and the materials on it in written forms are fairly few. The most intact collection of music of the Complete Perfection Tradition available now is the Orthodox Tones of the Complete Perfection collected in the Reprinted Selections from the Daoist Canon ( 重刊道藏輯要 Chongkan Daozang Jiyao ), which was published by the Temple of the Two Immortals in Chengdu in the late Qing dynasty.