The Ritual of Jade Tunes
The Ritual of Jade Tunes ( 玉音法事 Yuyin Fashi ) is the earliest collection of Daoist vocal music scores that is still preserved. It was presumably published in the Zhenghe Era of the Northern Song dynasty.
Content and form
The book consists of volumes one, two and three. The first and second volumes contain odes and their music score, and the third volume contains odes and fasting and offering rituals. The music of the odes in the first and second volumes of the Ritual of Jade Tunes is recorded in a very peculiar form of music score, which is neither the "jianzi" music score of ancient musical instruments, nor the "gongchi" music score of pi-pa, but a curved music score in zigzags. This music score is also called the bending music score or "Music Score Pacing the Void" ( 步虛譜 Buxu Pu ). It is an ancient kind of Chinese music score that is long standing, well established and far-reaching, and the course of its formation and development is closely related to Daoist music. Its beginnings can be traced back at least to the Han dynasty, when the name 'bending vocal' was listed in the names of songs and poems of twenty-eight schools recorded in the "Treatise on Literature" of the History of the Han Dynasty ( 《漢書． 藝文志》 Hanshu Yiwen Zhi ).
The Ritual of Jade Tunes contains altogether fifty pieces of Daoist music. Now it is included in Book 333 of the Daoist Canon of the Zhengtong Era ( 正統道藏 Zhengtong Daozang ). Because it was published ages after its composition, and the music scores are obscure and profound, even today no-one can understand the music scores in the Ritual of Jade Tunes, a Heavenly Book ( 天書 Tianshu ) still awaiting interpretation. .