Another criticism she has with the literati is with their attitude with Buddhism. She cites Zhang Hengqu who described how a Buddhist monk accidently touched his qin so he threw it in the river as it was ‘contaminated.’ She clearly illustrates that for some literati, they view Buddhism with religious contempt.
Miao now turns her attention to the relationship between the literati and the qin, focusing her attentions on the changes from one aspect to the other; the background, the aspect of self-cultivation, escapism and the relationship between the qin’s rise and fall with that of the literati’s fate.
She says that ‘the gentleman never parts with his qin without good reason;’ this concept is highlighted by the plethora of characters associated with the qin such as Confucius and various literati. but she says that this relationship with the literati did not affect that relationship between the qin in the court and minjian circles. Li Xiang writes in his Bie Lu, ‘up to nowadays, the commoners love the qin a lot.’ She gives several accounts of how the qin was still being played in the lower levels of society and was in fact very common unlike today. She continues with what she has highlighted in previous chapters of the change in the background of the people who play the qin and since the literati has dominated the qin it follows that the progress of the qin is tied with them. She argues that the literati has essentially limited the capabilities of the qin and that is due to the nature of trying to perserve the past and avoidance of anything new.
In regards to the qin’s use in self-cultivation, she again repeats herself about the clauses that it is all about repressing emotion and individuality out of the qin. She doesn’t say anything new here. This is also for her outline of the qin’s escapism which is basically saying that it is the opposite of the Confucian self-cultivation.
In her next section, she discusses more interesting points. She outlines the reasons why the decline of the qin is linked with the fall of the literati. She says that because the qin was mystified, the result is that it will eventually die. She says that during the Ming-Qing periods, the music of the minjian thrived but the qin was at a constant struggle with only a few qin players’ hard work that stopped the qin from oblivion. But it is also at this time that a great deal of qin literature and melodies were published. But from the Ming, the qin’s position was a difficult one. Zhu Zaiyu laments that the qin was rejected by even those at court who say that the qin is an ’empty instrument’ where musicality counts for nothing. It was then from the end of the Qing that the number of players fell significantly, citing Yang Shibai’s lament.
She then lists Shu Qing’s reasons why the qin is not popular; its mostly a solo instrument, its construction makes it suitable for slow play, its difficulty in manufacture, its difficulty to carry and set up and play, its difficult notation, its unfixed rhythm makes it difficult to transmit, and that the qin is ‘difficult to learn, easy to forget and boring to listen to.’ She admits that these points doesn’t necessary lead to the decline of the qin and that some of these points are rather subjective or unfounded. She dismisses that the qin’s decline is due to wars and conflicts as the qin survived all that during the change of the dynasties. The reason, she says is down to the qin not taking influences from the minjian and foreign music leading to the situation that makes it unpopular with many. She emphasised more on the link of fate between qin and literati. It is that the literati created the situation for the qin to thrive in but that if the rug is pulled away from the literati, there would thus be no more support for the qin. Then she goes on about capitalism and imperialism and that because the times have changed and with the import of Western musical ideals, the qin must also follow suit with the ideals of such instrument like the piano or violin, like how much of ‘traditional Chinese music’ has followed.
Her final chapter is the most important in her thesis as it deals with the future progress of the qin and her solution to the problem of decline.
She first talks about the question of the progress of future qin music. Her first proposition is that the qin should reject the literati’s ritualisation of the instrument and that the qin should embrace a more artistic trend and outlook. The qin initially had a feudal purpose in order to supress people but now it should be about the individual human autonomy. She then quotes some Western philosophers like Marx (naturally) to support the human aspect and that the qin should be ‘returned to the people.’
Her second proposition is increase the artistic output of the qin and change the aim of qin performance. Rather than focus on dapu, she says, composition should be the foremost activity. She lists compositions composed since the 50s but she admits that these are hardly ever played. She however is hopeful that these compositions would be eventually be accepted by the qin community. On top of this, she believes that qin players must be musically equiped in formal Western musical theory like many other professional ‘traditional Chinese instrument’ players are. Also of importance is the teaching of the qin which she says must change from the one-on-one method to a more ‘scientific’ method. Finally, she suggests that the qin should be made louder to attract more people to the qin.
In her final section she discusses future of the qin.
She says that there has been significant debate about the future direction of the qin. Some say that the qin should remain a museum piece whilst others think it should be revived. Since the literati has died off, the qin is no longer a literati instrument. She does admit that there is still literati sentiments with a few players and she says that one can use the qin for self-enjoyment but for the qin to remain living it must be more than that.
So, she says, that it is now from an artistic standpoint that the qin will continue. The qin must absorb Western musical ideals and concentrate on the ‘beauty’ of music than its ‘philosophy.’ The professionalisation of the guqin and new compositions should be explored. She concludes that the qin is now an everyday instrument so that now it can develop and progress like all other instruments and its museumulisation has been averted.