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17. Celestial Air Defining Gong Mode
- Gong mode, standard tuning:2 5 6 1 2 3 5 6
神品宮意 1
Shenpin Gong Yi 3

Gong modal preludes may have a variety of names. The ones covered here are listed above the chart tracing these preludes. They include a number of melodies intended to introduce characteristics of gong mode or, in some cases, the modal characteristics and melodic style of the pieces following it.4 These range from those almost identical to the one here, to ones with melodies that seem unrelated. There are gong modal preludes in at least 25 handbooks from 1425 to 1670, but after this there are very few.5 The later ones include several repeats from Ming handbooks (usually grouped together rather than placed separately at the beginning of their respective modal sections) and the new Yuyin Chudiao published in 1876. Several of the preludes have lyrics.6 Several have lyrics.6

Although there is quite a variety of melodies within these preludes, the tonal characteristics seem quite consistent throughout the Ming dynasty.7 All seem to consider the third string as gong (do, 1) and use that as their main tonal center, with zhi (sol, 5) as the secondary tonal center. This characteristic (also found in some of the other modes here) makes it tempting to compare it with the Western major mode. Most of the preludes open on 5 (played on the open 1st and 6th strings) and end on 1/5 (inverted fifth on 1).

For more information on such modal characteristics see also Modality in Early Ming Qin Tablature.

Shen Qi Mi Pu Folio 1 has seven melodies said to be in gong mode:

  1. Gufeng Cao (The Ancient Style)
  2. Gao Shan (High Mountains)
  3. Liu Shui (Flowing Streams)
  4. Yang Chun (Sunny Spring)
  5. Xuan Mei (Profoundly Serene)
  6. Zhao Yin (Seeking Seclusion)
  7. Jiu Kuang (Wine Mad)

This consists of all the SQMP Folio 1 pieces using standard mode. However, the first of these, Gufeng Cao, seems in fact to follow yu mode characteristics right up to but not including the ending.

In addition, SQMP Folio 2 has two further melodies in gong mode:

  1. Guanghan You (Wandering in a Lunar Palace)
  2. Meihua Sannong (Three Repetitions of Plum Blossom)

Both use the first string as gong (do) with do as the main note and sol as the secondary note.

Later pieces in gong mode that I have studied include the following (all have their first surviving version in Xilutang Qintong [1525]):

  1. Gong Yi (Defining Gong Mode)
  2. Xiuxi Yin (Purification Ceremony Intonation)
  3. Yang Chun (Sunny Spring)
  4. Kangqu Yao (Ballad of the Highroad)
  5. Chonghe Yin (Intonation on Balanced Vital Force))
  6. Gukou Yin (Gukou Allure)
  7. Yi Qiao Jin Lü (Going for Shoes under the Bridge)
  8. Da Guan Yin (Intonation on Being Free of Worldly Emotions)
  9. Liu Shang (Floating Wine-Cups)
  10. You Lan (Secluded Orchid)

A few of these later gong mode melodies (e.g. Gukou Yin) have a characteristic otherwise especially common in early shang mode melodies: including a minor third (flatted mi) along with the standard mi.

Original preface8

One section

(00.41) -- harmonics
(00.52) -- Modal prelude ends

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Celestial Air Defining Gong Mode (Shenpin Gong Yi 神品宮意)
神品宮意 25211.182 神品 shenpin refers to art, not music. 7327.169 宮調 says it is an old music category, e.g. for Music for Feasting (fairly lengthy entry). Gong, which literally means "palace", is the first note of the Chinese music scale. "Yi" is short for "diao yi", the common name for a modal prelude (compare "kaizhi").

2. Gong mode tuning
See also Qin Tunings, some theoretical concepts and Van Gulik's comments in Lore, pp.86-7. Here Van Gulik says the diaoyi include all the basic playing techniques used in that mode, but I have not found this to be the case.

3. Image not yet selected.

4. Intention of the modal preludes
Some modal preludes may have been created specifically for the pieces they precede; such preludes, according to some definitations, should have been called kaizhi.

5. Tracing Gong modal preludes
See the tracing chart below. Of the versions availablve after 1670, those in 1715 and 1871 seem to copy Ming editions while the Gongyin Chudiao published in 1876 is a new melody.

6. Lyrics for gong modal preludes
Zha Guide copies the lyrics from several handbooks, including the following (translations by the film director and scholar 劉成漢 Lau Shing Hon):

Note that all the lyrics connect springtime with love, a connection common to all cultures.

7. Traditional examination of mode
The comment about modal consistency is a tentative statement based mainly on looking at Ming dynasty handbooks. In the Qing dynasty there is often discussion of 調 diao as well as an 音 yin, or a 均 jun as well as an 音 yin. These presumably concern the two basic aspects of diao, tuning and mode, but my preliminary observations suggest these terms are not used consistently, and as yet I have not played or examined a sufficient number of Qing melodies given these attributes to know precisely how the terms are used.

One possible problem is that over the years the musical characteristics of a piece might change but the old mode name is kept.

8. Preface to gong modal prelude
Although SQMP modal preludes have no prefaces, those in Zheyin Shizi Qinpu do, so the prefaces to Zheyin preludes are included here to give an idea of one Chinese conception of mode. However, since Zheyin has melodies in only 9 of SQMP's 14 modes, any prefaces to the other six preludes (for gong, shang, jiao, mangong, manshang and manjiao modes) must come from elsewhere (note that the jiao prelude is missing from Zheyin, and in SQMP manshang has no prelude). It so happens that surviving prefaces for modal preludes in Zheyin are almost identical to those in Chongxiu Zhenchuan Qinpu (1585), and the latter also has prefaces for all the missing modal preludes except mangong, so they can also be applied to Shen Qi Mi Pu modal preludes. Thus the following preface to the gong modal prelude comes from 1585:

(Gong Yi): The Beyond Sound Immmortal says,

Translation incomplete. See also the lyrics from the same source.

9. Music for the gong modal prelude
Timings follow my recording.
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Appendix: Chart Tracing 宮 Gong Modal Preludes
This chart covers the following entries from Zha Fuxi's Guide:

Shenpin Gong Yi (3/36/--)
Gong Yi (1/5/6; includes Gong Yi Kao)
Gong Diao (1/-/5)
Gongyin Chudiao (42/274/--)

Notes based on tuning 5 6 1 2 3 5 6 ; some of the versions have lyrics, as indicated below.

    (year; QQJC Vol/page)
Further information
(QQJC = 琴曲集成 Qinqu Jicheng; QF = 琴府 Qin Fu)
  1.  事林廣記
      (Song/Yuan; I/18)
宮調 Gong Diao; longer, but no harmonic coda; secondary tonal center 5;
6 6 6 6 6 6 6 , 2 1 6 6 1, five phrases ending on 5, 3, 2, 3, 1, 1 and 1.
  2.  太音大全集
      (Song/Yuan; I/102)
宮意 Gong Yi
6 6 6 6 , 1 5 5 5 5 5 5, three phrases ending on 5, 3, 1, harmonic coda ending on 1
  3.  神奇秘譜
      (1425; I/133)
神品宮意 Shenpin Gong Yi; quite different from the above; harmonic coda ends on 1/5;
music begins 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 , 2 7 7 2 7 6 5 6 7 2 1# 33;
      (<1491; I/--)
Either missing or was never a part of it : lyrics of 1585 don't fit 1425 melody using the normal pairing method (see argument)
  4. 西麓堂琴統
      (1525; III/62)
宮意 Gong Yi
Begins 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 , repeat, 2 1 1 6 5.... (all pentatonic; compare 1546)
  5. 風宣玄品
      (1539; II/60)
神品宮意 Shenpin Gong Yi; quite different, somewhat longer
Begins 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 , 2 1 6 6....; quite different from 1425: revision? 7s changed to 1 and 6
  6. 梧岡琴譜
      (1546; I/401)
神品宮意 Shenpin Gong Yi; another revision? Somewhat shorter;
Begins same as 1525
  7. 琴譜正傳
      (1561; II/410)
神品宮意 Shenpin Gong Yi;
Identical to 1546
  8. 步虛僊琴譜
      (1556; III/--)
宮意 Gong Yi; in Folio I of facsimile edition
Close to 1425, including 7s, but some changes
  9. 太音傳習
      (1552-61; IV/29)
宮意 Gong Yi
Same as 1546 but missing harmonic coda
10. 太音補遺
      (1557; III/316)
宮意 Gong Yi (but ToC has 宮意考 Gong Yi Kao)
Same as 1546
11. 龍湖琴譜
      (1571; 琴府/226)
神品宮意 Shenpin Gong Yi; lyrics same as 1585 but last line repeated for harmonic coda. Except for opening and harmonic coda it is musically very different from 1425 (and 1585)
12. 五音琴譜
      (1579; IV/198)
神品宮意 Shenpin Gong Yi; related but again quite different from 1425; starts on 1 unisons instead of octaves; omits 7s but adds some slides into non-pentatonic tones (mistakes?); ends on 5/1
13a. 新刊正文對音
      捷要 (1573; --)
See in ToC: identical to 1585?
13b. 重修真傳琴譜
      (1585; IV/304)
宮意 Gong Yi; lyrics; begins 5 5 5 5 5 6 5 , 6 5 5 3 2....
Related to but very different from 1425; longer; ends on 1/1
14. 玉梧琴譜
      (1589; VI/12)
神品宮意 Shenpin Gong Yi; after opening octaves on 1 it is different: first to continue with 9th position on 3rd (then 4th); long harmonic coda ending on 5/1.
15. 琴書大全
      (1590; V/471)
神品宮意 Shenpin Gong Yi;
Quite different again; another long harmonic coda ending 5/1
16. 文會堂琴譜
      (1596; VI/192)
宮意 Gong Yi;
Like 1546 but seems to omit some ornaments
17. 綠綺新聲
      (1597; VII/11)
宮意 Gong Yi; lyrics begin like 1585, but are quite a bit longer; music seems like new composition but tonal centers still 1 and 5, ending 5/1.
18. 藏春塢琴譜
      (1602; VI/300 / 312)
神品宮意 Shenpin Gong Yi. Two: first seems to be an elaboration of 1546 (especially at end); second version is identical to 1589
19. 三才圖會續集
      (1607; VI/474)
宮意 Gong Yi; lyrics same as 1585: music also seems same
20. 真傳正宗琴譜
      (1589; VII/176)
宮意考 Gong Yi Kao; missing from QQJC ToC; begins 6 6 66 6 6 6 (see 1579);
Seems to be a new melody; lyrics like 1585 but with some insertions (e.g., 惠風膏雨沐花天,景悠然...) and a change near end
21. 陽春堂琴譜
      (1611; VII/366)
宮意 Gong Yi
Very similar to 1546
22. 琴適
      (1611; VIII/19)
宮意 Gong Yi  lyrics;
almost identical to 1597
23. 樂仙琴譜
      (1623; VIII/367)
宮意考 Gong Yi Kao; same melody as 1589;
lyrics almost same (adds "景悠然" after "惠風膏雨沐花天")
24. 義軒琴經
      (late Ming; IX/411)
宮意 Gong Yi
Very similar to 1546
25. 琴苑新傳全編
      (1670; XI/319)
神品宮意 Shenpin Gong Yi
Seems like 1425 with modifications like 1546 (no 7s)
26. 琴學正聲
      (1715; XIV/54)
宮調 Gong Diao; lyrics same as 1585
Begins 5 5 5 5 5 5 5, 2 7 7 6 5.... (almost same as 1425)
27. 青箱齋琴譜
      (~1866; XXIV/386)
Gong Yi; lyrics same as 1585;
Music same as 1425 except for two strokes added before harmonic coda
28. 白菡萏香館琴譜;
      (1871; XXIV/430)
Gong Yi
Seems to be from 1611 Gong Yi
29. 天聞閣琴譜
      (1876; XXV/142)
宮音初調 Gongyin Chudiao; see comment
New unrelated melody  

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