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SQMP  ToC     modal preludes     Modality in Early Ming Qin Tablature 首頁
44. Celestial Air Defining Wuyi Mode
- tighten 5th, slacken 1st (1 3 5 6 1 2 3);2 melodies grouped as "huangzhong mode"3
神品無射意 1
Shenpin Wuyi Yi 4
This tuning, under various names including yingzhong
5 and fugu6 as well as wuyi and huangzhong, seems to have been one of the most common non-standard tunings during the Ming dynasty.7 Melodies using this tuning can have several different modal characteristics, but only to a limited extent do these different characteristics correspond with the various names used for this tuning.8 The Zha Guide indexes nine different prelude names using this tuning, and such preludes survive in at least 18 later handbooks.9 However, after 1525 very few new melodies/titles appeared using this tuning.10

Shen Qi Mi Pu has 10 melodies using this tuning. It seems possible to divide these modally into three types: those having mi (3) as the main tonal center, those having la with mi (6 and 3) as the main tonal centers, and those with do, usually also with mi, though the endings in Folio 3 usually begin on do and end on sol (start 1, end 5); in Folio 1 these melodies mostly end on 1. The codas in particular suggest that that a characteristic of this mode is the alternation between 1/5 and 6/3 (compare major and minor modes), and this is reinforced by the modal preludes, most of which are centered on 6 and 3 until the end, which is almost always on 1 (or 1 and 5).

On the other hand, the particularly strong emphasis on 3 suggests that this could be the closest equivalent in early qin music to a "3-7, or theoretical jiao, mode". The numerous occurrences of 4 and 7 emphasize the importance of 3; and perhaps it is natural that a mode on 3 should emphasize its relationship with 6 and 1. And some melodies make significant use of 1 sharp. See further on such characteristics below.

One of the puzzling aspects of this tuning is that the name huangzhong (yellow bell) invokes the most classical or fundamental of ancient Chinese tones and yet, although this tuning is indeed used for melodies with such classical names as Da Ya, or such classical themes as Shanzhong Si Youren, it is also used for many, if not most, of the melodies with themes related to the non-Han regions of North and Central Asia. Indeed, the connection of the name huangzhong with this theme is so strong that at least one related melody, Li Ling Thinks of Han, though using a different tuning, is still said to belong to huangzhong mode.11

The ten titles in Shen Qi Mi Pu using this tuning are as follows.

Five in Folio 1. The table of contents groups them under the title Huangzhong Mode, but doesn't mention Kai Zhi (see below). This perhaps emphasizes that the kaizhi is specifically connected to the title that follows it. Tonal centers shift between 3 (mi), 6 (la) and 1 (do); the main body may end on ends on 6, with the harmonic coda ending on 1. When 1 and 6 are the tonal centers the secondary center is 3. The five titles, with their basic modal characteristics, are as follows:

  1. Kai Zhi (a modal prelude)
    Tonal centers go (phrase by phrase) 3-1-1-6-1-6-6; harmonic coda ends on 1.
  2. Qiuyue Zhao Maoting
    Section 1: starts 1 & 3, ends 3; Section 2: 3 and 6; Section 3: 3 and 6; Section 4/1: 3, 6 1; ends 1. Section 4/2: 3 and 6; ends with kaizhi.
  3. Shanzhong Si Youren; 3 sections
    Section 1: starts 5, ends 1; Section 2: mostly 6; Section 3: starts 3, ends 6; Coda: 1. Mostly pentatonic, but with 4#s as neighboring tones to 3.
  4. Xiao Hujia; six quite long sections
    Tonal centers on 1 (with 3), 6 (with 3) and 3; quite complex, with many non-pentatonic tones, particularly 4, 4# and 7, perhaps all associated with 3 as tonal center. Main body ends on 1; coda ends on 5/1 (inverted 5th).
  5. Yi Zhen
    Main tonal center seems to be 3, but often moving to 6 or 1. Main body ends 6; harmonic coda ends strongly on 1 (with 5).

Five in Folio 3: a modal prelude and four named melodies; all are grouped under the sub-heading Huangzhong Mode. These, with their modal characteristics, are as follows:

  1. Shenpin Wuyi Yi
    Tonal centers go (phrase by phrase) 3-3-6-3-3-6-3, then the harmonic coda goes 1-5; 4 occurs four times.
  2. Huangyun Qiusai
    Tonal centers mainly on 3 and 6-3 but also 1 (sometimes with 3); main body ends on 3; writes out harmonic coda as above (1-5).
  3. Longshuo Cao
    Tonal centers on 3, 6 (with 3), and 1 (with 3); main body ends on 3; repeat harmonic coda as above (1-5)
  4. Da Hujia
    Tonal centers on 3, 6 and 3, and 1 (with 3 or 5); main body ends on 3; repeat harmonic coda as above (1-5)
  5. Da Ya.
    Tonal centers on 3, 6 and 3, and 1 (with 3); main body and coda both end on 3. Has several 1# played in connection with 6-3 (compare A major).

None of the five titles in Folio 3 actually mentions huangzhong. It is thus not clear whether Zhu Quan was aware of modal differences within this tuning, or considered them significant.

Xilutang Qintong (1525) has 12 titles using this tuning, as follows.

6 listed under Wu Yi Mode,
3 listed under Yingzhong Mode,
3 listed under Fugu Mode ("Return to Antiquity"; it uses only the first five strings).

Xilutang Qintong does not have any of the four titles with this tuning that SQMP had in Folio 1. Of the five from Folio 3, it includes four under Wu Yi, but it includes Longshuo Cao (there called Zhaojun Yuan) under Yingzhong Mode.

I have learned both of the Wuyi mode titles that are in Xilutang Qintong but are not in SQMP. These are #120 Yi Guanshan and #121 Han Gong Qiu.

I have also learned both of its Yingzhong mode titles not found in SQMP. These are #136 Yingzhong Yi and #137 Han Jie Cao

Further comments on the general modal characteristics of melodies using this tuning

Further regarding melodies using this tuning, taking the first string as 1 (C), overall one can say that most commonly the tonal centers are 6 and 3 (6 - 3 mode; compare A and E of A minor), but the endings are usually on 1 and 5 (1 - 5 mode; compare C and G of C major). However, within the melodies 1 with 3 seems more important than 1 with 5, with 3 actually seeming by itself sometimes to be the main tonal center. As mentioned above, this suggests that this tuning has a large number of passages that suggest a "3-7, or theoretical jiao, mode", this being reinforced by the frequency in this tuning of the notes 4 (also 4#) and 7. The bodies (i.e., before the closing harmonics) of three of the four Folio 1 pieces end on 6, whereas the bodies of all the Folio III pieces end on 3. However, the harmonic codas of the Folio I pieces all end on 1 while those of Folio III all end on 5 except Da Ya, which ends on 3.12

Some melodies published later with this tuning seem to put less emphasis on 3 and more on contrasting passages in 6 - 3 (compare Western A minor) with others in 1 - 5 mode (compare C, its relative major); see, for example, Han Jie Cao as published in 1525. This brings up interesting questions. It is said that traditional Chinese music did not modulate (change key). To me this means that the predominant notes follow the standard pentatonic scale, 1 2 3 5 6, no matter what the tonal center. Thus the 6 - 3 mode would have the scale 6 1 2 3 5, not 6 7 1 (or 1#) 3 4#. In general this is the case. However, in the above melodies there is often a 7, and it usually occurs when 6 is the tonal center.

In some melodies 1 is sharped, again when 6 is the tonal center. This is true whether or not the theme is Han or non-Han.

Also as mentioned above, this tuning is used for most of the qin melodies with themes related to the non-Han regions of North and Central Asia.13 Are the melodies with this exotic theme modally different from the ones with more standard Han themes? My conclusion from transcribing and playing these melodies is that they may be somewhat less pentatonic than the huangzhong melodies with Han themes, but as yet I am unable to be more specific on this topic than what is already written above.

Another modal question comes up with Longshuo Cao. It, like Huangyun Qiusai, generally avoids using the 1st string. So although the tonal centers are different, it is in this way compatible with ruibin tuning. Indeed, at the end of the 16th century the tuning for Longshuo Cao sometimes changed to ruibin, though the melody changed little (the 1st string being still little used).

Original preface

One section

(00.51) -- harmonics
(01.04) -- Modal prelude ends

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

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Shenpin Wuyi Yi 神品無射意
射 is usually pronounced she. When pronounced yi it is an old form of 斁 yi, meaning "weary". Thus, 無斁 wuyi: not weary of. 19580.362 無射 Wuyi gives three meanings (see also 7/127):

  1. 射終也。言萬物隨陽而終。當復隨陰而起,無有終已也。。。
    7595.xxx; 2/xxx (weariness ended?).
  2. 鍾名、古十二律之一
    Name of a bell; one of the old 12 tones.
  3. 無厭也(詩,周頌,清廟)不顯不永,無射于人斯。
    Not detesting (Shi Jing #266: Very bright, very glorious, Showing no distaste toward men [Waley]); not weary (Shi Jing #218)

The references concerning music make no mention of a connection between wuyi and huangzhong (see next).

During the Qing dynasty 無射 wuyi came to be used as the mode name for Li Sao. The tuning for Li Sao requires raising the 2nd and 5th strings. Throughout the Ming dynasty this tuning was called 淒涼 qiliang or 楚商 chushang and I do not know how this name change came about.

2. Instructions for achieving huangzhong tuning
The following instructions are written under the title "Huangzhong Mode" in Section 3 of Shen Qi Mi Pu:

Same as wuyi: slacken 1st string, tighten 5th (each one semitone);
open 7th string = 5th string stopped at 11th position;
open 4th string = 1st string stopped in 8th position.

Other tunings using this name are mentioned below.

3. Yellow Bell Mode (or Tuning): Huangzhong Diao (黃鐘調)
48904.1330 黃鐘調 (huangzhong diao) says 燕樂羽聲七調之第五運。又作黃鐘羽﹕ yu tone in Music for Feasts....
As stated above, the instructions here for huangzhong specifically say "黃鐘調,即無射調 huangzhong mode is the same as wuyi mode". This is indeed the most common tuning for melodies labeled as wuyi or huangzhong. However, other tunings may also be used for huangzhong.

Other huangzhong tunings
Shenpin Huangzhong Yi in Yuwu Qinpu (1589) also uses the present wuyi tuning. However, in at least two other places, melodies said to be in huangzhong mode use different tunings.

Taigu Yiyin has a Huangzhong Diao with lyrics, but this huangzhong mode uses standard tuning.

Xilutang Qintong (and perhaps several other handbooks) has a huangzhong mode said to be the same as the manjiao (lowered third string) tuning: 1 2 3 4 5 1 2, a tuning that in Shen Qi Mi Pu is called biyu. With the first string as do, one might guess that this manjiao tuning would be an important tuning, but in fact it is one of the most rare.

Some later versions of Li Sao are said to be in wuyi mode, though the tuning is raised second and fifth strings.

In contrast to this, in SQMP huangzhong is one of the most popular tunings, and several of its pieces remained quite common throughout the Ming dynasty. However, the only ones regularly to survive into the Qing dynasty were Hujia in the form of Hujia Shiba Pai, and Da Ya, also in a quite different form. Occasionally a new title in this tuning would be introduced, but it would rarely be repeated in another handbook.

4. Image
Not yet selected.

5. Yingzhong Mode/Tuning (應鐘意 Yingzhong Diao
"Responding bell mode"; 11599.220 應鐘: one of the 12 律 tones. Zha Guide 22/--/-- has only one piece under this name; it is in Xilutang Qintong, with two named melodies grouped with it, as follows:

  1. Yingzhong Yi; only in 1525
  2. Hanjie Cao, "also called Su Wu Si Jun"; only in 1525
  3. Zhaojun Yuan, also called Longshuo Cao

For the modal characteristics see further.

6. Fugu Mode/Tuning (復古調 Fugu Diao)
10422.14 復古 (no "調") 回復古制 return to the old way of doing things. This mode, the title of which could also be translated "Return to Antiquity Mode", generally uses only the first five strings, lowering the first and raising the fifth so that the tuning is 1 3 5 6 1. Zha Guide separately lists titles of three modal preludes using this tuning:

神品復古意 Shenpin Fugu Yi (26/219/--)
復古意         Fugu Yi (22/--/--)
復古調(考)  Fugu Diao (Kao); 17/175/--

However, all three of these (further details listed below) are closely related melodically, having main tonal center 1, secondarily 5.

In addition, there is at least one melody using all seven strings that calls its tuning fugu diao: the qin song from 1597, Hujia Shibapai (VII/33)

7. Popularity of this tuning in the Ming dynasty
As can be seen from the Shen Qi Mi Pu list above, many of the related melody titles seem already to have been quite old, so perhaps the appearance of popularity in the early Ming was really a leftover from the Yuan or earlier dynasties.

8. Correspondence between mode titles and modal characteristics
The correspondence between mode titles and melodies within standard tuning is discussed elsewhere, e.g., under mode.

Note that some modal preludes may have been created specifically for the pieces they precede; such preludes, according to some definitations, should have been called Kaizhi.

9. Tracing Wuyi modal preludes (tracing chart)
As can be seen from the list above the tracing chart, Zha Fuxi's Guide has nine separate entries for this tuning. The chart attempts to group this by melody rather than title. As can be seen, most of the seven stringed preludes, no matter what the title, are melodically and modally related, the exception being the Wuyi Yi of 1525, which has its tonal centers on 1 and 5 throughout.

Note that after 1670 there are no modal preludes using this tuning, after 1525 very few new melody titles using this tuning emerged (see also next footnote).

10. Later scarcity of new melodies using the 1 3 5 6 1 2 3 tuning
The following are the only new melodies in this tuning that I have found to emerge after 1525:

  1. Chao Hui Yin (1589, 1602 [identical] and 1611)
    Always precedes Da Ya, for which it apparently serves as a prelude
  2. Hujia Shibapai song (1597; re-copied 1611)
    This was perhaps the most noteworty example, but it was never re-published later
  3. Yunzhong Sheng He (1664)
    In 1664 and >1802; see comment
  4. An Le Wo, 安樂窩 Peaceful Happy Nest, set to lyrics by 邵雍 Shao Yong (1691)
    Zha Guide 38/--/536 lists it in 1691 (XII/584; copied in 1876), 1692 (X/281) and 1878 (missing; see XXVI/276)
  5. Dao Yi, as played by Long Qinfang (in Guqin Quji I/260-4)
    Commentary with a transcription of this modern interpretation dates it to 1880

Modal preludes seldom appear in handbooks published during the Qing dynasty, making it more difficult to locate other melodies that might have used this tuning. Note that melodies #115-117 in the 1876 handbook Tianwen'ge Qinpu, in Huangzhong mode, are all copies of earlier melodies mentioned above.

11. Li Ling Thinks of Han uses lowered third string tuning.

12. The SQMP melodies in the tuning with the most connection to 1-5 as a tonal center are #14 Shanzhong Si Youren and #15 Xiao Hujia; both also have 6-3 as centers. All the other pieces in this mode emphasize 6-3 more than 5-1 except Da Ya, which most strongly has 3 as the primary tonal center and 6 as secondary tonal center. However, whereas all except Yi Zhen have 6 or 3 as as the final note of the body, all except Da Ya have C or G as the final note of the ending coda.

13. Specifically, one melody in Folio I, Xiao Hujia, and three in Folio III, Huangyun Qiusai, Longshuo Cao and Da Hujia, have this theme. So do Han Jie Cao and Li Ling Si Han in Xilutang Qintong (1525). All use the tuning 1 3 5 6 1 2 3 except Li Ling Si Han, which calls its mode "huangzhong", but uses the tuning 1 2 3 5 6 1 2.

14. Although SQMP modal preludes have no prefaces, those in Zheyin Shizi Qinpu (which all have identical music) do. Zheyin calls the wuyi mode huangzhong, with the preface to the prelude as follows,

按書註云「黃鐘者陽氣,鐘重泉而出也。鐘者,踵也。 律有形有色,五色黃盛於黃,故氣鐘黃泉,孳萌物, 為六氣元也,位于十一月。噫,有化清之音。
(Huangzhong Yi)

15. Music My transcription of the song setting      
The timing above is from my SQMP CDs.

The identical music can be found in Zheyin Shizi Qinpu, where it is called Defining Yellow Bell Mode; there it is paired to lyrics using the normal method. The lyrics are as follows:


Spring flowers and autumn moon: when will they cease?
    of past matters I know not how many there have been.+
In the small tower last night there again came east winds;
    as for the old country I cannot bear to turn my head and look back.
Mounds of jasper, jade steps, and those carved door screens,
    I would like to ask of my lord (or God):
And so now (of that) all is there anything left ? How much of it will be sorrow?
    (And yet) any river's water in spring just continues flowing eastward.

The opening of these lyrics quote the beginning of a poem by 李煜 Li Yu (李後主 Li Houzhu, 937–978, Wiki) called Corn Poppy Melody (虞美人操 Yu Meiren Cao). Towards the end of the second line they diverge. The original Li Yu poem is as follows:



There is further mention of this melody with the Shen Gua story of Sang Jingshu, as well as here.

Chart Tracing Modal Preludes using 無射 Wuyi tuning

See further; this chart covers the following entries from Zha Fuxi's Guide:

  神品無射意 Shenpin Wuyi Yi 7/72/-- : only in 1425, 1539 and 1670
  無射意         Wuyi Yi 21/--/-- : only in 1525
  神品黃鐘意 Shenpin Huangzhong Yi 26/--/-- : only in 1589 and 1602
  黃鐘意(考)  Huangzhong Yi (Kao) 12/122/215 : 1491, 1525, 1546, 1557 (Kao), 1561, 1585, 1596, 1611 and ~1640
  妙品黃鐘意 Miaopin Huangzhong Yi 27/--/-- : only in 1590
  應鐘意         Yingzhong Yi 22/--/-- : only in 1525
  神品復古意 Shenpin Fugu Yi 26/219/--: only five strings; 1589 and 1602
  復古意         Fugu Yi 22/--/--: only five strings; 1525 and 1596
  復古調(考)  Fugu Diao (Kao) 17/175/--: only five strings; 1546 and 1561

Not included: 黃鐘調 Huangzhong Diao 13/--/251: only in 1511; it uses standard tuning.

In this chart the music notes give relative pitch based on considering the tuning as 1 3 5 6 1 2 3 (lowered first, raised fifth string) ; some versions have lyrics.

    (year; QQJC Vol/page)
Further information
(QQJC = 琴曲集成 Qinqu Jicheng; QF = 琴府 Qin Fu)
1.  神奇秘譜
      (1425; I/158 [details])
Shenpin Wuyi Yi; tonal centers 6, secondarily 3, but harmonic coda ends on 5 (!);
Begins 散跳七(3 3 33 3 3 3, 1 6 1 3 3 3, 1 3 6 4 3 3 3, 4 5 6 6 1 1 2 1 6 6 6....)
2.  浙音釋字琴譜
      (<1491; I/243)
Huangzhong Yi, but lyrics same as 1585;
Music same as 1425
3a. 西麓堂琴統
      (1525; III/211)
Wuyi Yi; tonal centers 1, secondarily 5; ends on 1;
Begins 散勾一(1 3 5 5 5, 1 3 1 5 5 5, 4 1 1 2 1 6, 2 3 2 2, 3 5 5....)
3b. 西麓堂琴統
      (1525; III/232)
Yingzhong Yi; related to 1415; tonal centers 6 and 3 but coda ends on 1;
Begins 散跳七 (3 3 33 3 3 3, 6 1 1 3 3 3, 4 5 6 6 1 1 2 1 7 6 5 6 6....)
3c. 西麓堂琴統
      (1525; III/261)
Fugu Yi; only five strings;
Begins 散勾一 (1 5 5 5, 1 1 5 5 5, 1 3 1 3 5 3 5 5 5, 5 7b 1 3 3 5 3~ 5....)
4. 風宣玄品
      (1539; II/351)
Shenpin Wuyi Yi;
Identical to 1425
5a. 梧岡琴譜
      (1546; I/448)
Fugu Diao; like 1525 but with a few mistakes (?); "不用少宮少商二絃" (!);
Begins 散勾一 (1 5 5 5, 1 1 5 5 5, 1 3 1 3 5 3 5 5 5, 5 7b 7 (?) 3 5 3~ 5....)
5b. 梧岡琴譜
      (1546; I/450)
Huangzhong Yi; related to 1425;
Begins 散跳七 (3 3 33 3 3 3, 6 1 7 6 3 3, 5 6 6 1~ 1 7 5 6 6 6....; ends on 1)
6a. 琴譜正傳
      (1561; II/464)
Fugu Diao;
Identical to 1546
6b. 琴譜正傳
      (1561; II/466)
Huangzhong Yi;
Identical to 1546
    . 步虛僊琴譜
      (1556; III/--)
Has a melody (#50) using this tuning,
but tuning is not mentioned and there is no modal prelude
7a. 太音傳習
      (1552-61; IV/152)
Huangzhong Yi; related to but quite different from 1425 etc.
Begins 散跳七 (3 3 33 3 3, 1 6 3 3 3, 1 3 5 6 1 6 4 5 4 5 2 2 2....; ends on 1)
7b. 太音傳習
      (1552-61; IV/156)
Fugu Diao
Identical to 1546 except first 7b changed to 6
8a. 太音補遺
      (1557; III/387)
Fugu Diao Kao
Same as 1552
8b. 太音補遺
      (1557; III/388)
Huangzhong Yi Kao
Identical to 1546
9.   新刊正文對音
      捷要 (1573; --)
See Huangzhong Yi in ToC: identical to 1585?
10. 重修真傳琴譜
      (1585; IV/488)
黃鐘意 Huangzhong Yi; lyrics = 1491; music related to but very different from 1425;
Begins 3 3 3 3 1 3 3 , 1 3 4 6 3 7, 7....; ends 5 6 1 6 1 6 61 (1 over 6!).
11a. 玉梧琴譜
      (1589; VI/72)
Shenpin Huangzhong Yi; quite different from earlier versions;
Begins 3 3 33 3 3 3, 6 1 7 1 3 3, 5 6 6, 5 3 5,....; ends on 1
11b. 玉梧琴譜
      (1589; VI/89)
Shenpin Fugu Yi; preface begins, "紫霞曰:羲皇...."
music same as 1546
    . 真傳正宗琴譜
      (1589; VII/176)
1609 edition has a melody using this tuning,
but no modal prelude
12. 琴書大全
      (1590; V/520)
Miaopin Huangzhong Yi; similar to earlier but not identical;
Begins 3 3 33 3 3 3, 6 1 7 6 3 3, 5 6 1 6 6 1 2 1 1 7 5 6 6 6,....; ends on 1
13a. 文會堂琴譜
      (1596; VI/270)
Huangzhong Yi; like earlier but not identical;
Begins 3 3 33 3 3 3, 6 1 3 3 3....; ends on 1
13b. 文會堂琴譜
      (1596; VI/286)
Fugu Yi; like earlier but not identical;
1 5 5 5, 1 1 5 5 5, 1 3 1 3 5 5 5....
    . 綠綺新聲
      (1597; VII/--)
Melody but no modal prelude
14a. 藏春塢琴譜
      (1602; VI/422
Shenpin Huangzhong Yi
Identical to 1589
14b. 藏春塢琴譜
      (1602; VI/442)
Shenpin Fugu Yi
Identical to 1589
15. 陽春堂琴譜
      (1611; VII/436)
"Huangzhong Yi", but this is like the 5-string Fugu Yi seen earlier;
Says it is same a Fugu Yi, but it is followed by 7-string huangzhong mode pieces
   . 琴適
      (1611; VIII/--)
Melody (VIII/46) but no modal prelude (same as 1597)
   . 樂仙琴譜
      (1623; --)
Melody but no modal prelude
16. 義軒琴經
      (late Ming; IX/451)
Huangzhong Yi
Begins 3 3 33 3 3 3, 6 1 7 5 6 3 3 3, 6 1 6 6... ; ends on 1
17. 琴苑新傳全編
      (1670; XI/410)
神品無射意 Shenpin Wuyi Yi
Seems like 1425 with modifications like 1546 (no 7s)
18. 白菡萏香館琴譜;
      (1871; XXIV/432)
"Huangzhong Yi";
as with 1611 this is actually a version of Fugu Yi

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