Music of the Orthodox Oneness 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

The early Fasts and Offerings ( 齋醮 Zhaijiao ) ritual of the Orthodox Oneness Tradition ( 正一道 Zhengyi Dao ) was easy to perform, and its Taoist music was also relatively simple. During the Six Dynasties, the Commandments of the New Ordinances from the Clouds ( 雲中音誦新科之戒 Yunzhong Yinsong Xinke Zhijie ) compiled by Kou Qianzhi of the Northern Wei Dynasty was an early written record of the music of the Orthodox Oneness Traditions. Later, during the Song Dynasty of the Southern Dynasties, Lu Xiujing compiled the rituals and the Taoist music of this tradition began to take shape. It was then updated and reformed through different dynasties and gradually became perfect. After the Yuan Dynasty, the two major Daoist sects, the Orthodox Oneness Tradition and the Complete Perfection Tradition, were formed. The north was dominated by the Complete Perfection Tradition, while the Orthodox Oneness Tradition dominated Daoism in the south. Therefore, the Daoist music of the Orthodox Oneness Tradition spread in the south, especially in the south of the River.


The Daoist music of the Orthodox Oneness Tradition was mostly used in rituals such as constructing the altar, presenting offerings, burning incense, ascending the altar, drawing talismans, reciting spells, activating the incense burner, inviting deities, welcoming the deities, reciting scriptures, and intoning. Different sorts of Daoist tunes were combined in series according to the different ritual procedures. The combination of music changes with changes in rituals. The musical forms adopted by the Orthodox Oneness Tradition consist of solo (usually performed by the High Priest ( 高功 Gaogong ) and Chief Cantor( 都講 Dujiang ) ), unison, music accompanied by drumbeats, wind and percussion music, instrumental ensemble, etc. Instrumental music is usually performed at the beginning and at the end of the ritual, during the short interludes between verses, and applied for the occasions of the evolutions of the formation. Furthermore, in the course of a ritual, the music can be played either while seated or while walking to meet the different needs of the various religious ritual actions such as presenting incense, pacing the Big Dipper, circling the altar, and paying homage by the High Priest who presides over the ritual. Vocal music is the major part of the ritual music of the Orthodox Oneness Tradition, the principal forms of which include the "eulogy "( 頌 Song ), the "ode "( 贊 Zan ), "pacing the void "( 步虛 Buxu ), and the "hymn "( 偈 Ji ). Local flavour is the most evident feature of the music of the Orthodox Oneness Tradition, in that although the Daoist music of many temples tends to be identical in its general style, the tones and tune-polishing of different places appear different in their local characteristics. For example, the eulogies, odes and hymns of the Daoist music of Suzhou are the same as those of Shanghai temples in their titles and words, but the style of the tunes is different. Even for the same hymn, Suzhou Daoist music bears strong features of local folk songs (the Wu tune). The same scripture used in the same ritual is usually set to local tunes. For instance, tones such as "pacing the void" and "Hanging Rhythm " ( 吊挂 Diaogua ) are almost totally different in different places. As the saying goes, "Of ten tunes, nine are different within three lis". Besides its local aspect, folk features are also typical of the music of the Orthodox Oneness Tradition. For example, most of the Daoist music in the Jiangsu and Zhejiang areas adopts the folk music of "jiangnan sizhu" and "shufan luogu". Many Daoist tunes are formed by assimilating traditional folk music.


In the Orthodox Oneness Tradition, apart form the Daoist priests who live in temples, there are also some Daoist priests who live at home. The latter preach and practise Daoism among the people over a long period of time, and hence keep in long-term touch with folk arts. This strengthens the local and popular features of the Daoist music of the Orthodox Oneness Tradition. There is no unified rule for the musical instruments used. Except for the fact that the Magical Instruments ( 法器 Faqi ) such as bells, drums and inverted bells are generally the same, most of the other musical instruments have their local features. For example, the musical instruments used by the Orthodox Oneness Tradition in Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang are mainly the flute, the xianzi (a three-stringed plucked instrument), the drum, cymbals, the sheng (a reed pipe wind instrument), the xiao (a vertical bamboo flute), the ancient violin, the shuangqing, the yunluo, the daluo, the xiaoluo (gongs), big and small horns, and the erhu (a two-stringed bowed instrument), etc., while those used in the northern places such as Shanxi, Shanxi, and Henan are mainly wind instruments, the horn, the sheng and the flute.


The most intact music books kept of the Orthodox Oneness Tradition are The Sublime Heavenly Music ( 鈞天妙樂 Juntian Miaoyue ) (divided into three books), Rules for Ancient Tones ( 古韻成規 Guyun Chenggui ), and The Elegant Tones of the Rainbow Dress ( 霓裳雅韻 Nichang Yayun ), which, based on the Daoist scores collected in Wuding Temple, were sorted out and compiled by Cao Xisheng, a Daoist priest of the Mysterious Sublimity Temple ( 玄妙觀 Xuanmiao Guan ) , in the fourth Jiaqing year of the Qing Dynasty (1799). The three books of music scores are recorded in gongchepu (a traditional Chinese musical notation) and called "Cao music scores" in Daoism.