Shen You Liuhe
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27. Spirit Roaming the Universe
- Also called Riding the Vapors (Qi Qi)
神遊六合 1
Shen You Liuhe  
- Shang mode:2 standard tuning played as 1 2 4 5 6 1 2
Ascending the clouds riding a crane;      
Looking aloofly at the Yangzi and Han3    
Shen You Liuhe, literally, the spirit roams in six directions (up and down as well as the points of the compass), survives in five handbooks to 1525, then is found again in 1670 and 1876; in this way the melody is like a number of those from Shen Qi Mi Pu Folio 1, the most ancient pieces, many of which apparently were no longer played.4 No version has lyrics or section titles. Several handbooks make attempts to trace its origins, usually building on Zhu Quan's comments, but none is specific on this.5

In addition, the 1705 Chengyitang Qinpu has a Liuhe You "also called Ji Qi",6 but that melody uses ruibin tuning and is musically unrelated to the present melody.

"Spirit roaming" is an ancient phrase. The Liezi story about Yellow Emperor visiting the Hua Xu clan (see Huaxu Yin) says that their country is so far away it can only be reached by a journey of the spirit (shen you). And the afterword to the version in Xilutang Qintong builds on a story first found in the book of Zhuangzi, Chapter 11, in which the Yellow Emperor learns the Dao from the Sage of Kongtong Mountain (see illustration), then seems to mount the vapors and in spirit roam the universe.7

There are also ancient references to the Six Directions. For example, Zhuangzi, Chapter II, has a passage in which Zhuangzi says, "While beyond our world, the sage exists but engages in no discussion; when in our world, he expounds but does not discuss."8 And a spirit wandering in six directions is also mentioned with #35 Liezi Yu Feng (Liezi Rides the Wind).

However, I have not found the two expressions shen you and liu he elsewhere combined, nor have I found any other music references.

Yang Zuan, mentioned here in Zhu Quan's commentary, was a wealthy music connoisseur who collected a large number of old qin tablature, copying many into his now-lost Song dynasty Handbook of the Rosy Haze Grotto (Zixiadong Pu), said to have included over 460 tablatures. Zhu Quan's comments here9 indicate that perhaps he had a copy of the Zixiadong Pu version of Shen You Liuhe, but he also found what seemed to be a more complete version, attributed to a student of Yang Zuan named Xue Zusheng.

So far I have found no other references to anyone named Xue Zusheng, the closest reference being to Xu Xuejiang, a nickname of one of Yang Zuan's closest followers, Xu Tianmin.10

No other recordings are available of this title.

Original Preface11

The Emaciated Immortal says,

the origin of this tune is in lofty antiquity, but the more lofty the tune the fewer those who appreciate it. This means those who play it are few and listeners are rare. Only those who consume mist and feed on the sun can describe this.

In former times the (school of the) Grotto in the Rosy Clouds considered this to be a secret piece which was not to be passed on. When old Yang Zuan was about to die he told his son to revise the tablature and was thus going to destroy it for students of later times (by leaving out the best parts). How could he have known that Xue Zusheng (another student?) had already learned the original! Thus (the whole piece) was transmitted.

The interest of the tune lies in riding on air throughout the universe and ascending up to the Nine Heavens, fulfilling the will in the kingdom of blue sky, playing with one's shadow in the Milky Way, flapping one's clothing at the Golden Gate (of Heaven), and aloofly looking down on the Yangzi and Han rivers (see image). How grand (this music) is! Only those who ride cranes and mount luan (a fabulous bird) can understand this theme.

10 sections, untitled
12 (Timings follow the recording on my CD; 聽錄音 listen with my transcription)

(00.00) 01.
(01.14) 02.
(01.41) 03.
(02.22) 04.
(03.01) 05.
(03.44) 06.
(04.16) 07.
(05.08) 08.
(05.59) 09.
(06.26) 10.
(07.09) --- harmonics
(07.25) --- Piece ends

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Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Spirit Roaming the Universe (神遊六合 Shen You Liuhe)
Versions of this melody are also known as Qi Qi and, in one case, Liuhe You:

There is no solid information on the source of this title.

2. Shang mode (商調 shang diao)
Standard tuning is also considered as 5 6 1 2 3 5 6. For further information on shang mode see Shenpin Shang Yi and Modality in Early Ming Qin Tablature.

3. Illustration: Riding a Crane, by Edgar Francisko Jimenez.
    The calligraphy to the left of the image says:
         躡雲鶴駕 Ascending the clouds riding a crane; (See Section 1 of Lingxu Yin)
         睥睨江漢 Looking aloofly at the Yangzi and Han (rivers; see the preface to Shen You Liu He, above).
         唐世璋__碧鈺題 John Thompson asked Biyu to write this.

4. Tracing Shen You Liuhe (Details in Appendix below)
The other apparently most ancient pieces are discussed elsewhere. The Appendix is based largely on Zha Guide 4/46/--. In Xilutang Qintong (1525) the title is given as 騎氣一名神遊六合 Ji Qi, also called Shen You Liuhe". See also the Liu He You footnote below.

5. Origins of the melody
For example, 1670 begins by saying, 琴史曰:是曲之來也,尚矣;不知作者為誰 According to Qin History this melody has been passed down from antiquity but its creator is unknown...." It then goes on, as here, to mention Yang Zuan and Xue Zusheng.

6. 六合遊又名驥氣 Liuhe You, also known as Ji Qi
六合遊 (1477.168 only 六合) means "six-direction wandering" or "wandering the universe"; 驥氣 Ji Qi ( means "Strong Horse's Spirit". The similarity of this pair of titles with the pair here, Shen You Liuhe and Qi Qi, is presumably what led the Zha Guide to list them together under Shen You Liuhe (with Liuhe You listed as only in Chengyitang Qinpu (1705). There seems to have been a similar confusion in Tianwen'ge Qinpu (1876), where what should be called Shen You Liu He is called Liuhe You, and what is called Liu He You is called Qi Qi. In fact the Liuhe You/Ji Qi of 1705 and 1876 are unrelated to the 1425 melody, even using a different tuning, ruibin. (1876 also has a version of Shen You Liu He, calling it Liuhe You!) In 1705 there is an afterword; it quotes 胡遠山 Hu Yuanshan and says he excelled at this, then seems to say that, like Guangling San, it was lost, and so he is trying to revive it in the same way that piece was. The version in Tianwenge Qinpu says it was copied from 1705 but has somewhat different commentary.

7. Xilutang Qintong afterword
Here the afterword says,

Once the Yellow Emperor received the Dao from the Sage of Kongtong Mountain (廣成子 Guangchengzi). Suddenly understanding, he forgot about his physical body, and seemed to ride the vapors as his spirit roamed on the surface of the universe. Later someone created the tune imitating this."

(Note that the phrase shen you is not in the relevant Zhuangzi passage). For more on this story see the melody Kongtong Wen Dao.

8. 六合之外,聖人存而不論;六合之內,聖人論而 不議。 (Translated here is from James Ware.)

9. 紫霞洞譜 More information in Shen Qi Mi Pu: A General Introduction.

10. Xue Zusheng 雪祖生, and generally no further information to help interpret what "雪祖生曾授受之" actually tells us about who transmitted this melody Shen You Liu He. The same "Xue" (snow) is found in the nickname of Yang Zuan's associate 徐雪江 Xu Xuejiang, nickname of Xu Tianmin, who compiled (or helped compile) the Grotto in the Rosy Clouds handbook (紫霞洞譜 Zixiadong Pu and originated the 徐門 Xumen qin tradition. It is tempting to try to interpret 雪祖生 as "Xue ancestral person/people", suggesting that this phrase means that it was followers of Xu Tianmin who transmitted the melody.

However, both 25209.29 and 7/846 define 祖生 only as Zu Sheng: "Mr. Zu", a common reference to the famous 3rd/4th century general 祖逖 Zu Ti who while crossing the Yangzi on his way north to reconquer land from the Xiongnu slapped his oar in the water as part of an oath.

11. For the original text see 神遊六合.

12. Timing follows my CD.

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Appendix: Chart Tracing Shen You Liuhe
Based mainly on
Zha Fuxi's Guide, 4/46/--.

    (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/139 [here])
10; shang mode; "一名騎氣 also called Qi Qi"
騎氣 could also be pronounced Ji Qi but that would increase confusion with 驥氣 Ji Qi
  2. 西麓堂琴統
      (1525; III/82)
9 (combines #10 w/#9); many differences; "騎氣一名神遊六合 Qi Qi also called Shen You Liu He"
afterword mentions the Yellow Emperor and 神遊太虛
  3. 發明琴譜
      (1530; I/355)
10; same as SQMP but no punctuation
No alternate title; no commentary
  4. 風宣玄品
      (1539; II/142)
10; close;
No alternate title; no commentary
  5. 步虛僊琴譜
      (1556; Facsimile)
10; related
No alternate title; no commentary; not in Zha Fuxi's index
  6. 琴苑新傳全編
      (1670; XI/343)
10; = SQMP (see also 1876 below)
no mention of 騎氣 Qi Qi
    . 誠一堂琴譜
      (1705; XIII/423)
15; "六合遊又名驥氣 ; 蕤賓調; Liuhe You, also called Ji Qi, ruibin mode"
Different melody; afterword quotes 胡遠山 Hu Yuanshan and says he excelled at this
  7. 天聞閣琴譜
      (1876; XXV/420)
11; "六合遊;琴苑譜" Liuhe You, from Qin Yuan" (1670 above, but in addition to the title being different the melody is also somewhat different (different edition, not included in QQJC?). The Preface mentions 琴史 Qin History, saying origins are unknown but discussing its transmission; no mention of 騎氣 Qi Qi
   . 天聞閣琴譜
      (1876; XXV/569)
15; "驥氣,誠一堂譜 Ji Qi, from Chengyitang" (1705)
Preface attributes 王晉叔 Wang Jinshu of Song dynasty

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