Shenpin Yu Yi
 T of C 
Qin as
Qin in
/ Song
Analysis History Ideo-
Personal email me search me
SQMP ToC 聽錄音 Listen to my recording with transcription   首頁
41. Celestial Air Defining Yu Mode
- Yu mode, standard tuning:2 5 6 1 2 3 5 6
神品羽意 1
Shenpin Yu Yi 3
The character "羽 Yu" literally means "feather" and many early melodies in this mode concern flying creatures, whether they be birds or immortals (often known as yuren ("feathered people"). Thus it is in particular with both yu melodies in Shen Qi Mi Pu and many in other early Ming dynasty books.

Yu 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 yu 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 yu modal preludes in at least 27 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

Although there is quite a variety of melodies within these preludes, the tonal characteristics seem generally consistent throughout the Ming dynasty;7 some exceptions are noted in the tracing chart below. For more information on such modal characteristics see also Modality in Early Ming Qin Tablature.

For its yu mode melodies Shen Qi Mi Pu has a modal prelude followed by two melodies, as follows:

#41. Shenpin Yu Yi (the present melody)
Zhi Zhao Fei
#43. Wu Ye Ti

For all three the main note is yu (6 [la, the open second string]) and the secondary note is jue (3 [mi, the open fifth string]), giving it characteristics somewhat like those of the Western minor scale. The modal prelude seems to be particularly connected to Zhi Zhao Fei; its tonal center sometimes shifts to do (1), but it ends on la (6). Wu Ye Ti also gives some prominence to the note do.

All three are also in the yu mode section of Zheyin Shizi Qinpu, where they are rather different from their versions in SQMP. Particularly notable is the fact that at the very end the two titled melodies suddenly "modulate" to end on 1 (do). Ming dynasty yu mode pieces do seem often to shift their tonal center from 6 to 1, but they rarely end on 1: this is more of a characteristic of non-standard tuning modes such as guxian. (See, however, comments on Ping Sha Luo Yan.)

The Shen Qi Mi Pu Folio I melody Gufeng Cao, though there listed as in gong mode, seems to fit yu mode best.

Note also the footnote Zhi Mode in Weibin Yin.

Other melodies in yu mode published in the Ming dynasty include the following:8

Meng Ou
Pei Lan (but see the footnote, Modality of Pei Lan)
Chunxiao Yin
He Wu Dongtian
Yao Tian Sheng He
Chun Si
Boya Diao Ziqi
Ruilong Yin a.k.a. Shuilong Yin

No original preface 9

Music10 (timings follow the recording on my CD; 聽錄音 listen with my transcription)
One section (transcription has Zhi Zhao Fei added afterwards)

(01.11) -- harmonics
(01.22) -- 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. Celestial Air Defining Yu Mode (神品羽意 Shenpin Yu Yi)
29245.95 羽調 yu diao says 南曲之調 "a mode for southern melodies". "羽 Yu" literally means "feather".

2. 羽調 Yu Mode: standard tuning (5 6 1 2 3 5 6)
The relative tuning here shows the melodies in this tuning are la mi mode melodies in a sort of pentatonic minor mode. For more details see Modality in Early Ming Qin Tablature as well as Qin Tunings, some theoretical concepts. Further regarding mode,

There are sometimes strong modal and/or melodic connections between diaoyi and melodies in that mode, but Van Gulik may be overstating the case when he writes (see Lore, pp.86-7) that diaoyi include all the basic playing techniques used in that mode. I have not found this to be the case with existing yu mode melodies, but it could be that many modal preludes have been lost or were never written down.

3. No image 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 Yu modal preludes
See chart below.

6. Lyrics for yu modal preludes
Zha Guide copies the lyrics from several handbooks, including:

None yet translated.

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. Melodies in Yu mode published in Ming dynasty
Chinese titles are 佩蘭,春曉吟,鶴舞洞天,瑤天笙鶴,春思,伯牙弔子期。

9. Preface for Yu modal prelude
Although SQMP modal preludes have no prefaces, those in Zheyin (which all have identical music) do. The preface to the yu modal prelude in Zheyin is as follows:
考之羽數四十有八聲,陰中之陰,最清也。 位於五弦專之,而為羽調。有清爽之音。
The meaning of Yu (mode): (not yet translated)

10. Music for the yu modal prelude
Timings follow my recording. Note that the music here is noticeably different from that of 1425, and the lyrics from the Zheyin Shizi Qinpu version cannot be sung here following the traditional pairing method.

Chart Tracing 羽 Yu Modal Preludes

This chart covers the following entries from Zha Fuxi's Guide:

Shenpin Yu Yi (7/--/--)
Yu Yi (2/8/10; includes Yu Yi Kao)
Yu Diao (1/-/6)
Yuyin Chudiao (42/275/--)

All treat tuning as 5 6 1 2 3 5 6 , but 3rd string is called "yu". Some have lyrics, as indicated.

    (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/19)
羽調 Yu Diao; longer, but still no harmonic coda; begins 6 4 3 6 3 3 3 6 3 3....;
Phrase endings on 6, secondarily 3, but harmonic coda is on 1 (with 5)
  2.  太音大全集
      (Song/Yuan; I/102)
羽意 Yu Yi; begins 6 6 6 6 3 5 3 1 3....; no harmonic coda
Phrase endings on 6 (yu), secondarily 3 (jue; further comment).
  3.  神奇秘譜
      (1425; I/154 [here])
神品羽意 Shenpin Yu Yi; quite different from above; begins 3 6 3 3 3 , 6 3 3....;
Recording; precedes and shares phrases with Zhi Zhao Fei
  4.  浙音釋字琴譜
      (<1491; I/230)
Music same as 1425 but here it precedes Wu Ye Ti! preface;
The lyrics ("泛泛水中鷗....") can be sung to the melody (see comment)
5a. 西麓堂琴統
      (1525; III/173)
羽意 Yu Yi; begins 65 3 6 6 3 3 6 3 3, 3 3 5 66 5 3....;
variation on the 1425 melody, especially in the second half, which adds double stops
5b. 西麓堂琴統
      (1525; III/183)
羽意 Yu Yi; first half is same as previous but then no double stops;
Overall it seems to be a variation of the 1425 prelude
  6. 風宣玄品
      (1539; II/272)
神品羽意 Shenpin Yu Yi; begins 3 3 33 3 3 3 , 1 3 3 , 3 3 5 7(?) 3 3 3 6 3 3....
omits first two notes then closely related, esp. towards end
  7. 梧岡琴譜
      (1546; I/440)
神品羽意 Shenpin Yu Yi; like 1425 and again precedes Zhi Zhao Fei;
elaborates on 1425 throughout; begins 6 6 3 3 6 3 3 , repeat, 3 3 5 66 3 3 6 3 3.... (note 侖)
  8. 步虛僊琴譜
      (1556; III/294)
羽意 Yu Yi; also facsimile #35;
Like 1425 but especially 1546
  9. 太音傳習
      (1552-61; IV/137)
羽意 Yu Yi
Seems to be elaboration of previous versions
10. 太音補遺
      (1557; III/378)
羽意考 Yu Yi Kao; same as 1546;
Preface begins and ends, "羽聲次於徵,物也....絃各具五聲,而羽五絃之正聲也。"
11. 琴譜正傳
      (1561; II/456)
神品羽意 Shenpin Yu Yi;
Identical to 1546
12. 龍湖琴譜
      (1571; 琴府/265)
神品羽意 Shenpin Yu Yi; lyrics almost same as 1585
Begins 6(?) 6 3 3 3, 6 3 3, 3 5 66 3 6 3 3....; musically similar to previous
13. 五音琴譜
      (1579; IV/238)
神品羽意 Shenpin Yu Yi;
Almost identical to 1546
14a. 新刊正文對音
      捷要 (1573; --)
See in ToC: identical to 1585?
14b. 重修真傳琴譜
      (1585; IV/463)
羽意 Yu Yi; adds "沙" to lyrics;
Starts 3 3 33 3, 2 4 3, 2 4 3 3 2 4 3, 2 4 3.... ("10.0 on 3" [4] mistake for "10.8 on 3"?)
15. 玉梧琴譜
      (1589; VI/59)
神品羽意 Shenpin Yu Yi;
6 6 3 3 6 3 3, repeat, 3 3 5 66 3 3 6 3 3....(same as 1546)
16. 琴書大全
      (1590; V/513)
神品羽意 Shenpin Yu Yi; follows outline of earlier but quite different;
Begins "3 2 1 2 3 3 3 6 3 3, 6 3 3 3 6 3 3, 1 1 3 5 3....
17. 文會堂琴譜
      (1596; VI/249)
羽意 Yu Yi; follows outline but again different;
Starts open 3 stopped 7th at 9: 6 6 3 3 6 3 3 .....
18. 綠綺新聲
      (1597; VII/13)
羽意 Yu Yi; lyrics diff. but cover same material;
Music seems like new but related composition; begins 3 3 33 3 3 3, 6 3 3 3 6 3 3....
19. 藏春塢琴譜
      (1602; VI/399)
神品羽意 Shenpin Yu Yi.
Identical to 1589
20. 三才圖會續集
      (1607; VI/475)
羽意 Yu Yi; lyrics same as 1585 except one phrase:
Music related but not same as 1585; begins, 4 6 3 4 3, 2 4 5....(again mistaking 4 for 3)
21. 真傳正宗琴譜
      (1589; VII/missing)
羽意考 Yu Yi Kao; lyrics quite similar to 1491/1585 (changes at end)
Missing: info from Zha Guide
22. 陽春堂琴譜
      (1611; VII/407)
羽意 Yu Yi; Music related to earlier but many differences;
Music begins 6 6 66 6 6 7 6 6 5 3 5 3....
23. 琴適
      (1611; VIII/20)
羽意 Yu Yi;
Same music and lyrics as 1597
24. 樂仙琴譜
      (1623; VIII/370)
羽意考 Yu Yi Kao; related but not sure if to any in particular;
No lyrics; music begins "6 6 3 3, 2 1 6 6 3 3 6 3 3...."
25. 義軒琴經
      (late Ming; IX/442)
羽意 Yu Yi
Starts as 1546; related with its own changes
26. 琴苑新傳全編
      (1670; XI/395)
神品羽意 Shenpin Yu Yi; like early versions but none identical (so far);
Begins begins 3 6 3 3 3, 2 1 3 6 3 3 3, 353 3 5 6 3 3 3 6 3 3....
27. 琴學正聲
      (1715; XIV/55)
lyrics like 1491/1585 (few changes)
Music almost same as 1425
28. 青箱齋琴譜
      (~1866; XXIV/388)
Yu Yi; lyrics same as 1597
Music also from 1597
29. 白菡萏香館琴譜;
      (1871; XXIV/431)
Yu Yi
Seems to be from 1611 Yu Yi
30. 天聞閣琴譜
      (1876; XXV/346)
羽音初調 Yuyin Chudiao; see comment
New unrelated melody  

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