This article examines the history of primers on shenglü (tone and rhythm) in premodern China. The first section of the article investigates the original version of Zhu Ming's (Yuan Dynasty) Shenglü fameng (A Primer of Shenglü), as well as its sequel and revisions. The increased use and popularity of shenglü primers, especially in primary education from the Song forward, is explored in section 2. The third section illustrates how shenglü primers emphasized an integration of yun (rhyme) and dui (paired phrasing or parallelism). While tracing the rise of shiyun shu (poetic rhyme books) during the Song-Yuan transition period, the author argues that shenglü primers focused instead on tone and rhyme, aestheticizing the rules of couplet composition and tailoring couplets for singing. Through a discussion of several key developments in pairing rules and standards, the final section reveals the curious interaction between the taste of the poetry elites and that of the masses educated and informed by such popular poetry primers.

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