Shenpin Shangjue Yi
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58. Celestial Air Defining Shangjue Mode
- (Shangjue mode, standard tuning:2 5 6 1 2 3 5 6, but played as 1 2 4 5 6 1 2 )
神品商角意 1
Shenpin Shangjue Yi 3

Shangjue modal preludes called Shenpin Shangjue Yi, Shangjue Yi and Shangjue Yi Kao (see the list above the chart tracing these preludes) were all used to introduce characteristics of shangjue mode or, in some cases, the modal characteristics and melodic style of the pieces following it.4 For some modes there is quite some variety in the melodies, but here all are very similar except the version dated 1585 (see in chart). There are shangjue modal preludes in at least 17 handbooks from 1425 to 1670, but after this there are very few.5 Several of the preludes have lyrics.6

Except perhaps for the version dated 1585, the tonal characteristics seem generally consistent throughout the Ming dynasty;7 exceptions are noted in the tracing chart below. For more information on such modal characteristics see also Modality in Early Ming Qin Tablature.

Shen Qi Mi Pu has three pieces in shangjue mode:

Other pieces in this mode include:

In addition, Mozi Bei Ge was sometimes grouped with shangjue melodies.

Shangjue mode uses standard tuning, so it is a mystery why its melodies in that mode are included in Folio III. As listed above these two melodies are Shen Hua Yin and Zhuang Zhou Meng Die. One might guess that, because Folio I has 48 double-pages, Folio II has 50, and Folio III (including the shangjue pieces, which take up 4) has 46, Zhu Quan was balancing things out, but this doesn't explain the mystery of why it is inserted after the two pieces in qiliang mode, but before Chu Ge, which is in chushang mode (same tuning as qiliang), and why the shangjue modal prelude isn't listed in original Table of Contents.

This apparently confused the compiler of Zheyin Shizi Qinpu (1491): although it has exactly the same melody as Shen Qi Mi Pu, it directly places Chu Ge in shangjue mode, reinforcing the view that the person who added the lyrics did so without understanding the music. Likewise, Yang Biaozheng's Chongxiu Zhenchuan Qinpu (1585), which includes so many Zheyin Shizi Qinpu (and Shen Qi Mi Pu) pieces, though altering the melodies, also puts Chu Ge in shangjue mode, giving it a completely new melody which in fact uses standard tuning. Usually Yang takes his lyrics from Zheyin, but with Chu Ge they come from Taigu Yiyin. One is inclined to suspect that Yang , seeing the position of Chu Ge in these two earlier handbooks, thought it used shangjue tuning, but couldn't make sense out of it, so he created a new melody using standard tuning. However, Taigu Yiyin, although it doesn't list modes, clearly gives the correct Chu Ge tuning.

With do (1) as the main note plus mi and la (3, 6) as the secondary notes, shangjue is modally similar to the jue mode. However, like the shang mode, it plays the first string as do; jue mode uses the third string as do.

The two pieces in this mode both deal with the same Zhuangzi story, so the first, Shenhua Yin, with three sections, might be seen as a prelude to the second, Zhuangzhou Meng Die, which has eight. There are, however, no motifs in common between the two.

Original preface

Timings follow the recording on my CD; 聽錄音 listen with my transcription, which is here followed by that of Shen Hua Yin.
One section

(00.33) -- harmonics
(00.49) -- 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. 神品商角意 Shenpin Shangjue Yi
3834.42:shangjue商角,燕樂角聲七調之第七運, 與林鐘角同。(詞源)夷則閏宿命商角。

2. Shangjue mode (商角 Shangjue Diao; also shangjue diao)
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.

As for the pronunciation of the 角 in 商角, my teacher Sun Yü-Ch'in pronounced 角 as "jue" and this is the way I usually pronounce it, though most people today say "jue". Its original meaning is "horn".

3. Image
None 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 Shenpin Shangjue Mode (tracing chart)
The chart below is based largely on Zha Guide entries 9/95/-- and 12/121/215

6. Lyrics for shangjue modal preludes
Zha Guide copies the lyrics from 1491 handbooks, then says 1585 is same except the word 也 is added after 霸業, and that 1607 is the same as 1585.

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. Song of the Herdsman (牧歌 Mu Ge) (Zha Guide 11/177/--)
Mu Ge survives first in Qinpu Zhenchuan, which does not identify the mode. Taiyin Xupu and Wenhuitang Qinpu do, but both Qinpu Zhenchuan and Taiyin Xupu preface it with a short piece called 芻牧 Chumu Yin (Intonation on Grazing), which has a melody almost identical to that of Yin De. Yin De is always included with shang mode melodies.

9. Growing Feathers and Becoming an Immortal (羽化登仙Yuhua Deng Xian (Zha Guide 33/252/--)
In at least one handbook (1670) this melody is called Shenhua Yin.

10. Autumn Floods (秋水 Qiu Shui) (Zha Guide 32/245/--)
This melody was often called Shenhua Yin.

11. Prelude
Although SQMP modal preludes have no prefaces, those in Zheyin (which all have identical music) do. In Zheyin the preface to the shangjue modal prelude is as follows:

是意也,有有半商半角之意。寫英雄之遺。 恨嗟世事之浮漚。有慨嘆之音。
(Shangjue Yi)

Not yet translated.

12. Lyrics
Shen Qi Mi Pu has no lyrics, but the lyrics from 1491 would fit. These are as follows:


Not yet translated. Note the connection between the these lyrics and those at the end of Kechuang Yehua Section 4, in particular its text connected to becoming nothing.

Chart Tracing 商角 Shangjue Modal Preludes

This chart covers the following entries from Zha Fuxi's Guide (there is no Shangjue Yi Kao)

Shenpin Shangjue Yi (9/95/--)
Shangjue Yi (12/121/215)

All treat tuning as 1 2 4 5 6 1 2 . Some have lyrics, as indicated.

    (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/172 [here])
神品商角意 Shenpin Jiao Yi; begins "大九跳五,食九勾二省大圓.... 3 6 36 3 6 3, 6 1 6 5 3 5 6, 1 2 3~ 2 2 3 2 1 1 6 6...." All phrases end on 6 or 3 except last, which ends on 1; harmonic coda also ends on 1. So until the end the main notes are jue (no open string) and yu (open yu string). There is one 4# and one 3b.
  2.  浙音釋字琴譜
      (<1491; I/225)
Shangjue Yi; music identical to 1425;
lyrics also fit 1585 using the normal pairing method
  3. 西麓堂琴統
      (1525; III/126)
Shangjue Yi; precedes the same melodies as in 1425
Begins 3 6 36 3 6 3, 3 6 1 1 6 5 4 2, 2 45454 2 1 1....(body and coda end on 1)
  4. 風宣玄品
      (1539; II/221)
Shenpin Shangjue Yi;
Identical to 1425
  5. 梧岡琴譜
      (1546; I/426)
Shangjue Yi; quite similar to 1425 except ornamentation;
but changes the 4# to 5 and the 3b to 3
  6. 步虛僊琴譜
      (1556; Facs #22)
Shangjue Yi; Folio IV #1; almost same as 1425;
but also changes the 4# to 5 and the 3b to 3
  7. 太音傳習
      (1552-61; IV/107)
Shangjue Yi
Same as 1546
  8. 太音補遺
      (1557; III/354)
Shangjue Yi (no 考 Kao!)
Same as 1546/1552
  9. 琴譜正傳
      (1561; II/432)
Shangjue Yi;
Identical to 1546
10. 龍湖琴譜
      (1571; 琴府/270)
Shangjue Yi; no lyrics!; modally same;
Begins same as 1425 but then seems to have some mistakes and last phrase is different
    . 五音琴譜
      (1579; IV/__)
The appended section lists a Shangjue Yi but there is no tablature
    . 新刊正文對音
      捷要 (1573; --)
See in ToC: identical to 1585?
11. 重修真傳琴譜
      (1585; IV/419)
Shangjue Yi; preface; music and mode very different;
Lyrics same as 1491 (one character added)
12. 玉梧琴譜
      (1589; VI/69)
Shenpin Shangjue Yi; same as 1539
13. 文會堂琴譜
      (1596; VI/259)
Shangjue Yi;
Related melody, rather different but modally same
14. 藏春塢琴譜
      (1602; VI/481)
神品角意 Shenpin Jiao Yi.
Identical to 1589
15. 三才圖會續集
      (1607; VI/475)
Shangjue Yi; lyrics same as 1585: music also seems almost same
16. 陽春堂琴譜
      (1611; VII/418)
Shangjue Yi
Music almost same as 1596 (differences from copying?)
16. 義軒琴經
      (late Ming; IX/448)
Shangjue Yi
Very similar to 1425 and 1546
17. 琴苑新傳全編
      (1670; XI/424)
Shenpin Shangjue Yi
Like 1546 but not identical
18. 白菡萏香館琴譜;
      (1871; XXIV/431)
Shangjue Yi
Seems to be from 1611 Jiao Yi

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