T of C 
Qin as
Qin in
/ Song
Analysis History Ideo-
Personal email me search me
SQMP   ToC   /   Zhu Quan 網站目錄
Preface to the modern edition of Shen Qi Mi Pu
By Zha Fuxi, Qinqu Jicheng, Second Series, Vol.1, pp. v-vi; Beijing,
Zhonghua Shuju Chuban Faxing, 1981 (printed in Shanghai)

In the collection of the Shanghai Library, printed in the Ming dynasty. Compiled by Zhu Quan (Qu Xian -- the Emaciated Immortal). The front has Qu Xian's own preface dated the 1st of the 3rd lunar month, 1425. The first folio, called Taigu Shenpin (Most Ancient Spiritual Pieces), has altogether 16 pieces; the middle and last folios, called Xiawai Shenpin (Spiritual Pieces from Beyond the Rosy Haze), have 48.

Zhu Quan's original preface says clearly that this handbook resulted from his spending 12 years of work editing it. The 16 pieces of Taigu Shenpin, from careful study of the structure of its jianzipu (shorthand tablature) and reference to the introductions in the handbook to each piece, can prove that most of these pieces are tablatures handed down from Tang and Song dynasty originals.

As for Xiawai Shenpin, according to what is stated in Hu Zhangru's Xiawai Qinpu Xu (Preface to Beyond the Rosy Haze Qin Handbook), dating from the first year of the Yuan dynasty (1280?), during the Shunyou and Baoyou reign periods (1241-1259) of the Southern Song dynasty, qin players of the Zhe school such as Yang Zuan, Mao Xun and Hu Yu edited a Zixiatong Qinpu (Purple Haze Cave Qin Handbook) containing altogether 468 pieces. Not a few of the qin pieces in this handbook, between the Yuan and Ming dynasties, received continuous effort from people of that time. Xiawai points to those qin pieces undergoing effort which could 'explore the ideas not transmitted beyond qin tablatures of shaoshi [young teacher?] (Yang Zuan).' As a result, Xiawai Shenpin is a very important resource for examining the qin art of the Zhe school during the Yuan and Ming periods.

Zhu Quan's original preface clearly says,

'As for the 16 songs in the first folio, Taigu Shenpin, they are the most ancient pieces; formerly no one was willing to pass on the secrets (of how to play them), so they have no phrasing indicated.'

However, in the two editions of Shen Qi Mi Pu which survive, such pieces as Dunshi Cao from Taigu Shenpin all have punctuation. At the end of the edition in the Beijing library are appended two printed lines dated xinwei (1511 or 1571) which say,

'using broad concepts to examine the sounds and flavors, [I] put marks at the ends of phrases.'1

Xinwei is a date later than the death of Zhu Quan [1378-1448]. This volume, in the announcement on page 34 of the first folio of a Wen Xuan printed during the Jiaqing period (1522 - 1567) by the Wang Liang Book Shop, is classified with Xinke Taiyin Daquanji, so one can conclude that it is a Jiaqing period reprint.

The Shanghai Library volume does not have these two lines; comparing it with the Jiaqing volume, the tablature symbols in each include places where there are mistakes in the engraving. [The Shanghai volume] is perhaps a Wanli period (1573 - 1620) reprint. The Jiaqing period reprint, although it was printed first, has more places where the book plates were blurred. So this edition uses a photocopy of the volume from the Shanghai library.

Other than this, the tables of contents of both volumes have mistakes of omission:

  1. It is missing [a title for] the category Shangjiao Mode (using standard tuning);
  2. In the category Shangjiao Mode, before the piece Shenhua Yin, the piece Shenpin Shangjiao Yi (Spiritual Piece Explaining the Shangjiao Mode) is missing;
  3. The piece Chu Ge (Song of Chu) belongs to Qiliang Mode and should be placed after the piece Li Sao (for their tuning you raise the second and fifth strings one note from standard tuning).

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Adding punctuation
Zha's quote here is, "以私意詳其聲趣,點于句下。". However, the full comment at the end of the Wang Liang Book Shop edition is:

The previous few pieces are ancient tablature with no punctuation. So recently, during days of leisure, quietly and using broad concepts to examine the sounds and flavors, I put marks at the ends of phrases. Those knowledgeable of music should further investigate this.

A date is then added: 龍集辛未夏四月謹識 Longji xinwei (1511 or 1571), summer, fourth lunar month, respectfully recorded. This may cause some confusion, as the book itself is said to have been published during the Jiaqing period, 1522 - 1567.

As can be seen in this image, this comment is not repeated in the third edition (i.e., the version included in Qinqu Jicheng.

Return to the Shen Qi Mi Pu index or to the Guqin ToC.