T of C 
Home
My
Work
Hand-
books
Qin as
Object
Qin in
Art
Poetry
/ Song
Hear,
Watch
Play
Qin
Analysis History Ideo-
logy
Miscel-
lanea
More
Info
Personal email me search me
QSCB : Ming   / previous 中文   /   網站目錄
Chapter Seven: Ming dynasty
Xu Jian, Introductory History of the Qin, p. 134-9 1
第七章﹕明代
許健﹕琴史初編,第134-9頁

(B). 1. Zhu Quan and the qin melody Qiu Hong2

Zhu Quan, nickname Quxian, was the seventeenth son of Zhu Yuanzhang, the first emperor of Ming dynasty. In the 26th year of Hongwu (AD 1393), Zhu Quan was named Prince Ning and given a territory that is today Chengde and surrounding areas. He led eighty thousand elite troops "and, along with other princes, battled outside the Great Wall. He was famous for strategy." Emperor Yongle, or Zhu Di, prevailed in the royal family's fight for the throne and moved Zhu Quan to Nanchang, Jiangxi. At the time, someone maliciously accused Zhu Quan of seditious libel, but the charges were revealed to be false and Zhu Quan was not punished. After that incident, to avoid trouble, Zhu Quan stayed at home, only reading and playing his qin rather than minding political affairs (Ming Shi). The qin melody Qiu Hong matched his ideological state (as he stated in his preface to Qiu Hong) of "living in a time inappropriate (to his talents), knowing that the Dao is not prevailing.3 and "feeling ashamed to mix with ordinary society, seeking to emulate the wild geese of autumn".4

Zhu Quan's primary contribution to the study of qin lies in his publication of the Shen Qi Mi Pu. This is the earliest surviving qin tablature collection and is thus very valuable as a historical source. Shen Qi Mi Pu was "continuously revised and took much time". After some 12 years, it was published in 1425. The entire handbook includes 62 qin melodies (should be 645) and is divided into three folios. The 16 melodies in the first folio, called Taigu Shenpin, were "secrets not passed down from the past". This includes Guangling San, Gao Shan, Liu Shui and other melodies from before Tang and Song dynasties. These melodies had not been played for years and therefore were recorded in an ancient style with no punctuation. The second and third folios have 34 (titled) melodies (plus 14 modal preludes) that the editor "personally studied" and that he called "Xiawai Shenpin", a name in accord with the Yuan dynasty Xiawai Puqin, which, in turn, came from the Song dynasty Zhe-school Zixiadong Pu. There are often detailed introductions before each melody, which provides important research information regarding the development and content expression of qin melodies. Later explanations often followed his format. The editor's academic approach was precise, but due to historical and class limits, even though he claimed (in his general preface) that "(In writing down) the characters and phrases, the dots and lines, there is nothing which I have omitted," he still also said that "as for the ones which had vulgar names, all these I have changed (to more refined ones) in order to illumine the Dao of the qin". What he considered "vulgar" might very well have reflected the wishes and requests of the working people. After his "changes", the connection between the people's music and qin melodies was blurred, which now brings difficulty to our accurate understanding of these musical works.

When Zhu Quan was editing Shen Qi Mi Pu, he advocated respect for the various characteristics of each school rather than forcing uniformity. He believed that "these pieces include ones with differing moods. This is because the aims of the (various) men of distinction (who played them) each resulted from their own differing natural dispositions." "Everything has its own Dao! To take things that are different and make most of them the same would be despicable." This is commendable. He asked five qin students to "frequently change teachers and receive (all their teachings)", in order to broadly absorb the strengths of each school. To allow various styles to exist in art is undoubtedly correct. It may have been a result of this idea that, though many of the melodies he passed down originated from Zhe School and the Xu family tradition, he did not insist on emphasizing that it was the "true Xu family tradition".

Many later qin experts believed that Zhu Quan wrote Qiu Hong, but some also have claimed that the composer was actually Guo Chuwang, which dispute still awaits further research. Other pieces in Shen Qi Mi Pu, such as Xiao Xiang Shui Yun and Fan Cang Lang were specifically labeled as having been written by Guo Chuwang, and there does not seem to be a reason for which this melody (Qiu Hong) would be an exception. Qiu Hong was placed at the end of Shen Qi Mi Pu. One possible reason was that it used Guxian, also called qingshang mode, which tightened the 2nd, 5th, and 7th strings, so it was placed this way for formating purposes. Another possibility is that the editor wanted to express modesty by attaching his own melody at the end. With the tablature of Qiu Hong, after the preface, there is Zhu Quan's homonymous essay, which clarified in greater detail themes and artistic expressive techniques in the melody. At the end of the poetic essay, he wrote:

I sigh over the confusions of society:
    how can one live an ordinary life with vulgar people!
Because I value these lofty ideals,
    I have written this composition to praise (the wild geese)....
Should anyone ask who composed this,
    if it is not someone who has been a long time in qin circles,
    who else could (thus) extol (the wild geese)?
Actually, I am just a lazy old man on the west side of the river,
    just a "child of heaven" (i.e., member of the royal family) who is crazy about poetry.
while somewhat tipsy I wrote this to describe my happy feelings...."

In this quote, west of the river (xi jiang) refers to where he resided (Nanchang was considered quite far west up the Yangtse River). "Child of heaven" alludes to his royal status, which subtly suggests that he was the author. Furthermore, in the tablature for Qiu Hong, he added short annotations, such as in the 27th section:

This section is very profound. One must receive personal instruction to avoid the problems of not playing smoothly and continuously, of being choppy, and of getting the phrasing wrong. In this it is like Yuan Luo Ping Sha (the title of Section 15).

This note reveals the care that the editor took regarding performance and differs from other tablatures. Even if this melody was not written by Zhu Quan, it was at least one of his favorite pieces.

Every section of "Qiu Hong" had a sub-title, possibly designated by the original creator. These titles are significant direct references for the understanding of the expression and conception of the entire piece. They are recorded below:

(See in the Qiu Hong preface.)

(Xu Jian then gives an analysis of the melody, not yet translated).

(Return to Ming dynasty)

 
Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Basic translation by Jin Qiuyu.
(Return)

2. Xu Jian, QSCB, pp. 134 - 136. See also Zhu Quan's own Preface.
(Return)

3. "與時不合,知道之不行
    Living in a time inappropriate (to his talents), knowing that the Dao is not prevailing."
There is a long tradition of people feeling that had they lived in a more appropriate time they would have achieved their rightful success. See, for example, the lyrics said to have been composed by Xiang Yu of Chu when he failed in his struggle agains Liu Bang.
(Return)

4. "欲避地幽隱,恥混於流俗,乃取喻於秋鴻
    Feeling ashamed to mix with ordinary society, seeking to emulate the wild geese of autumn"
Migratory birds such as geese are often a metaphor for being in exile: when the time is appropriate they can return home.
(Return)

5. The 64 pieces in Shen Qi Mi Pu consist of 15 titled melodies and one modal prelude (kaizhi in folio 1, plus 34 titled melodies and 14 modal preludes in folios 2 and 3.)
(Return)

Return to the Qinshi Chubian outline or the Guqin T of C