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Wuyin Qinpu
Five Tones Qin Handbook 1
End of Wuyin Qinpu preface 2    
This handbook, in two folios plus an appendix, has 36 melodies, none with lyrics or commentary.3 Four of the melodies have their earliest surviving version here, as follows:

  1. Jing Guan Yin (popular in Qing dynasty)
  2. Shuixian Qu (later a popular title, but this melody only here)
  3. Xiangyang Ge (only here)
  4. Ruilong Yin (popular melody later called Shuilong Yin and Canghai Long Yin)

For all of these I have written out transcriptions and I play the first two; I play Shuilong Yin from 1589.

In the preface dated 1579, the end of which is shown at right, the compiler Prince Dexuan says he collected old tablature and put the 31 melodies he could play into two folios. This suggests that it was at an unspecified later date that he appended five melodies from "non-standard" modes. At the beginning of each folio is the statement, "Revised and engraved by Shen Regional Protective Prince Dexuan;" this seems to be the same title as the author of the preface.4 Some further information is included in the Preface by Zha Fuxi, translated below.

by Zha Fuxi5
from Qinqu Jicheng, Vol. 4
Beijing, Zhonghua Shuju Chuban Faxing, 1982

(This qin handbook), in the collection of Shanghai Library,6 is a Ming dynasty edition, in two folios. It was compiled by the Ming Regional Prince Zhu Cheng.7 It has a preface, dated autumn, (the 15th night of) the 8th lunar month of the 7th year of the Wanli reign (1579), by Shen'guo Baoding Prince De Xuan. The first folio has melodies in the gong and shang modes. The last folio has melodies in the (jue, zhi, yu and) shangjue modes as well as modes using non-standard tuning.8 There are 36 melodies in all.

The style of music in this handbook seems somewhat different from that of its contemporaries; perhaps this is related to its place of origin; on the other hand, although it seems to have been compiled by someone it Shanxi province, this does not mean that it reflects a particular style from that place. It should be mentioned also that this handbook uses repeatedly several figures/clusters not mentioned in its explanation of finger techniques. Perhaps the editor simply copied fingerings from other handbooks, without regard for the actual usage in the handbook.9

The author's own preface says (the original is above),

"During leisure time I inspected old tablature, roughly added amendations; I recorded the 31 melodies10 that I was able to play; for the ones I couldn't (play) I did not dare include as I could not be sure of their correctness."11.

Since this was a handbook which he himself used, it has differences from the collecting and storing style of the other tablature collections of all early periods. Its own style is uniform, as are its techniques.

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Wuyin Qinpu 五音琴譜 (1579; QQJC IV/193-257)
262.539 五音 wuyin: gong, shang, jue, zhi, yu.

2. Image
Copied from QQJC/IV/189; partially translated below.

3. Melodies in Wuyin Qinpu
19 of its 36 melodies are in Shen Qi Mi Pu (1425).

4. Shen Regional Protective Prince Dexuan
The commentary by Zha Fuxi/Wu Zhao does not elaborate on this name, only quoting the statement at the end of the preface, "Recorded by Dexuan, Protective Prince of Shen Principality" (Shen Guo Baoding Wang Dexuan ti 瀋國保定王德軒題). The Zha/Wu commentary does not mention that this name is repeated at the beginning of folios 1 and 2 (IV/195 and /222), changing only the second character: it has 藩 fan instead of 國 guo (i.e., Shen Fan Baoding Wang Dexuan jiao kan 瀋藩保定王德軒校刊). However, the meaning seems to be the same.

Here is my understanding of this name, in part from consulting a Chinese Wikipedia template about Shen Guo:

5. Auther of this commentary
查阜西 Zha Fuxi apparently wrote it originally, then it was edited by 吳釗 Wu Zhao.

6. 上海圖書館; still in the Shanghai Library?

7. Ming Regional Prince Zhu Cheng 明藩王朱珵
朱珵 might also be pronounced Zhu Ting. This name and the following ones have been discussed above.

8. Melodies using non-standard tunings
In the text (not the table of contents) above the title for Zhuangzhou Mengdie, which is in the shangjue mode, is the character 附 fu, meaning "appendix". The four following pieces are identified as "non-standard tuning": Ao Ai and Yang Guan use ruibin mode, but this is not mentioned, though the tuning method is given at the front of Ao Ai; Li Sao uses qiliang mode (this is mentioned in the table of contents); Feiming Yin uses guxian mode, but this is not mentioned, though its tuning method is given. Mode names are also mentioned in the central column which has the page numbers, but there are mistakes.

9. Unexplained fingerings in Wuyin Qinpu Some unexplained fingerings in Wuyin Qinpu  
The five examples given here are all figures that appear more than once in this handbook, so it seems likely that they are not simpy copy errors. Starting from right:

  1. Two columns, each showing an open string followed by its octave. One is played 應聲 the other 連聲, but there is no explanation of the difference (IV/203)
  2. The figure meaning 分開 is usually applied to two right hand strokes: with sixth or seventh string? (IV/201 [first notes Section 5]; same in 1525 [first notes Section ])
  3. The right column under 女二 has 半輪 on 二 but other versions all have octaves played here (IV/205; see also next)
  4. The individual components of this figure (here repeated) would seem to be 綽打 (綽 chuo and 打 da), but although this figure appears numerous times (e.g., in the previous example here), there is never any confirmation that this is indeed what the symbols stand for, much less an indication of where or how to play it (IV/241)
  5. This shows 吟猱 followed by 細猱, with two right hand strokes above. Should one do 吟猱 on the first then 細猱 on the second? 吟猱 appears quite frequently: does it mean do both 吟 (fast vibrato) and 猱 (slow vibrato), or could it be copying some old tablature that says 吟 is a type of 猱? (IV/203)

Considering the lack of explanation for some fingerings it is perhaps ironic that right after the fingering explanations the editor has included (without attribution) a verse by Cao Rou about looking up fingerings that are not understood. (Before the verse is written, "法曰 The rules say:"). It seems that generally finger explanations are copies of earlier, supposedly authoritative, versions. In early Ming this does not seem to be a problem, but later on it seems likely that some players were using new techniques for which there was no existing tablature, but the scribes could not imagine inventing new terms to describe these techniques.

10. Zhu Cheng Preface
The preface misprints this as "30". The handbook's own table of contents does indeed list 31 melodies. The one here has 36 because it includes the five modal preludes, which in the book's own text but not in its Table of Contents.

11. He adds, "I have sighed over this many times."

Return to the annotated handbook list or to the Guqin ToC.