Si Shun
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05. Thinking of [Emperor] Shun
- Zhi mode, standard tuning2 played as 1 2 4 5 6 1 2
思舜 1
Si Shun   
  Confucius studying Wen Wang Cao from Shi Xiangzi 3  
Emperor Shun ("2317-2208" !) is said to have served Emperor Yao ("2356-2255" !) so well that, when his own son proved unworthy, Yao named Shun as his successor. Both emperors have been greatly honored throughout Chinese history, as has been Wen Wang (Civil King, 1231-1135), the person to whom this piece is attributed. The various commentaries on this piece generally cite the glories of Wen Wang himself, perhaps on their own, but also as epitomized by his thoughts of Emperor Shun, or by his sagacity in persuading Lü Shang to be an advisor after meeting him by a riverbank. A related story, not included in the present introductions but certainly known by their authors, is the following, which tells of Confucius recognizing that this piece must have been created by Wen Wang himself.

The biography of Confucius in the Shi Ji, Chapter 47,4 tells of him learning a melody from Shi Xiang (or Shi Xiangzi). After Confucius had learned to play it, Shi Xiang said he could go on to the next one, but Confucius said he had learned only the melody, not the techniques. Later, when Shi Xiang again said he could go on to the next piece, Confucius said he had not yet caught the spirit. Next he said he could not yet visualize the person who was behind it. Finally he was able to identify the person who created it as Wen Wang (King Wen). Shi Xiang then bowed to Confucius, and identifed the melody as Wen Wang Cao. The same story is told on the illustration included above.

Versions of this melody can be found under various titles, including Wen Wang Cao (a current version is recorded by Cheng Gongliang), Wen Wang Qu, Wen Wang Si Shun, Wen Wang Si Shi and Lü Wang Xing Zhou.5 The related melodies with these titles are all quite similar. On the other hand, the 1511 qin song Wen Wang Cao has no direct musical relationship, though it has enough modal similarity that it could be used as a prelude to the present Si Shun. Only one later handbook (1585) uses the short title Si Shun.6

It is impossible to know the origin of the melodic material that went into the pieces using these various titles, but we can see that after 1491 melodies related to the present one exist in at least 11 more handbooks from 1511 through 1590, and that these coexist with the short qin song called Wen Wang Cao, mentioned in the previous paragraph, that in spite of its different lyrics has a story related to the one here.7

The next second version after 1491 of the present melody also dates from Taigu Yiyin (1511). This piece, Wen Wang Qu, uses for lyrics the text of three poems in the Shi Jing. There are, in fact, a few musical motifs in common between the 1511 Wen Wang Qu and its short Wen Wang Cao; this may be coincidental, or it could be related to the fact that the stories connected to versions of both melodies all concern the same person, Wen Wang. More clear is the connection with another melody in Taigu Yiyin, Wen Wang Qu; at first the latter piece is very similar to here, then it continues to use a number of related melodic motifs in setting to music the lyrics of three poems from the Book of Songs.

As for the other related titles, before its use as the title for this melody in Xilutang Qintong, Wen Wang Si Shi was listed in a version of the Qin Cao attributed to the famous qin player Cai Yong (133-192).8 Qin Cao connected the melody to the story of Wen Wang meeting Lü Shang, and this same story is quoted from the Book of History in the 1491 preface to the next piece in that handbook, Shi Xian. In addition, another alternate title of the present melody, Si Shun, is often paired with Weibin Yin,9 which also concerns Lü Shang, though the lyrics of Si Shun only concern Shun. The alternate title Lü Wang Xing Zhou also refers to the Lü Shang story.10

Elsewhere Wen Wang Si Shun (or a version of it) is attributed to Xu Hezhong 11, a famous qin player near the beginning of the Ming dynasty. None of the early handbooks, including those three specifically using this title (Faming Qinpu [1530], Fengxuan Xuanpin [1539] and Taiyin Chuanxi [1551]) mentions Xu Hezhong or the Xu tradition. And there seem to be no indications elsewhere of what version(s) he may have played.

Zheyin Shizi Qinpu preface:12

(This piece), by Wen Wang, (is) commonly called Wen Wang.

The Beyond-Sounds Immortal says, as for this melody, Wen Wang made it and later people added to it. The Royal Ancestor's Handbook doesn't have this piece. The Book of History says,

"Wen Wang, or Chang, Chief of the West (and) senior among the feudal princes, cultivated virtue and thought righteously. He pursued thoughts of the virtue of the Great (Emperor) Shun. He was fond of inquiry and investigating shallow words. He employed worthy men and used ability. (He had a) divine personality and good fortune in the affairs of this world."

And so this was transferred into qin sounds in order to praise his righteousness, and make this melody. So it is said.

Timings follow the recording on
my CD; 聽錄音 listen with my transcription.
Nine sections (titled) and lyrics 13

00.00   1. Thoughts of sacred virtue in a distant (past)
00.45   2. (Shun) succeeds to his position (through merit, not birthright)
01.25   3. He employs worthy people, utilizing their skills
02.06   4. He benefits people and builds an educational system
02.45   5. He has received the decree of heaven
03.24   6. The people can rule themselves
03.37   7. The divine spirit comes and things flourish
03.59   8. The emperor and his ministers advise each other
04.28   9. (We people today) could never pay sufficient respect (to Shun)
04.47       Closing harmonics
05.00       End

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Si Shun references
思舜 ; the story of Wen Wang thinking of Shun, as related here, is usually found under the title Wen Wang Cao (see below). Zha Fuxi's index does not consistently differentiate between the various melodies; for this see below.

2. Zhi mode (徵調 zhi diao)
Standard tuning can be considered as 5 6 1 2 3 5 6. For more information about 徵調 zhi mode see Shenpin Zhi Yi. For modes in general see Modality in Early Ming Qin Tablature.

3. Confucius studying from Shi Xiangzi
Compare similar images. The image above is from 孔子聖蹟圖 Traces of the Sage Confucius, an illustrated book of the life of Confucius. The present illustration is "學琴師襄 Studying qin with Shi Xiang", and it is taken from 孔子聖蹟圖,河北美術出版社,1996. The commentary indicates Confucius is learning the melody Wen Wang Cao, as in the present Qin Shi entry.

4. Biography of Confucius in the Book of History (史記 Shi Ji)
For the Chinese text see 史記/1925. Translated by Yang Xianyi and Gladys Yang in Records of the Historian (Hong Kong, Commercial Press, 1974), pp.13-14. "Melody" is 曲 qu; "technique" is 數 shu; "spirit" is 志 zhi (in Shen Qi Mi Pu Zhu Quan often discusses the zhi of a melody); "man behind it" is 為人 wei ren. Shi Xiang (師襄 9129.189) is also called 師襄子 Shi Xiangzi.

5. Tracing the melody of Si Shun
See chart below; for more on the various titles see the next footnote.

6. Three more have the related melody called Wen Wang Si Shun (1530, 1539 and 1552); all but 1539 [no lyrics] with the similar lyrics to those here).

7. Alternate titles for 思舜 Si Shun
Zha, Guide, has three relevant references:

11/115/194 Si Shun (plus Wen Wang Si Shun) has five entries from <1491
13/132/240 Wen Wang Cao (plus Wen Wang Si Shi, Wen Wang, and Lü Wang Xing Zhou) has 9 entries from 1511.
13/133/240 Wen Wang Qu (only in 1511)

As for these various titles,

文王操 Wen Wang Cao 13766.36 quotes Yuefu Shiji
文王曲 Wen Wang Qu; title only in 1511, but the melody is related to others here
文王思舜 Wen Wang Si Shun (used only as an alternate title)
文王思士 Wen Wang Si Shi 13766.32 (tells Lü Shang story)
呂望興周 Lü Wang Xing Zhou (Lü Shang was also called 太公望 Tai Gong Wang).

8. Wen Wang Si Shi as related in Qin Cao
There seem to be two versions of the Qin Cao attributed to 蔡邕 Cai Yong; Wen Wang Si Shi is #4 of the Hejian Zage but is not included in the Hejian Yage. Commentary for the melodies in Hejian Zage is included in Qinxue Congshu (see QQJC XXX/25).

As for Xilutang Qintong, its afterword (III/155) is as follows:

Lü (Shang) looked at year 80 line-fishing at the Wei Riverbank
Xibo (Wen Wang) went out to hunt recorded it and returned
Then helped Wu Wang attack the Shang and take control of the world.

Translation incomplete, but again it seems to concern Wen Wang getting good advice, facilitating his success. It thus may have some relationship with melodies connected to Lü Shang (see below).

9. 渭濱吟 Weibin Yin: compare the later 耕莘釣渭 Geng Shen Diao Wei

10. Wen Wang meets Lü Shang
The next melody, #6 Shi Xian, tells of Wen Wang meeting Lü Shang; so does Weibin Yin. As a result of this meeting Lü Wang (a nickname for Lü Shang) became an advisor to Wen Wang, helping him overthrough Zhou Xin, the last emperor of the Shang dynasty (hence 呂望興周 Lü Wang Brings the Flourishing of the Zhou Dynasty as the alternate title given in 1525). For another story of a momentous riverside meeting, this time between Zhang Liang (later advisor to Liu Bang) and Huangshi Gong, see Yi Qiao Jin Lü.

11. Xu Hezhong 徐和仲
Xu Hezhong (Xu Shen) was said to be a fourth generation descendent of Xu Tianmin. His biography in Xu Jian's Qin History Outline, Chapter 7.1.A (p.124), includes a story, also told here, about Xu playing the melody Wu Ye Ti.

12. Preface
The original Chinese preface can be seen under 思舜.

13. Section titles and lyrics
Here is a separate list of the original Chinese section titles, These section titles and the original lyrics are:

  1. 聖德遐思
  2. 嗣統攝位
  3. 任賢使能
  4. 益民興敎
  5. 奉天明命
  6. 民相自治
  7. 神格物祥
  8. 君臣相戒
  9. 報效無能

They are also on this .pdf file (from Zha Guide [194] 718).

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Chart Tracing 思舜 Si Shun and related melodies

Further comment
above; based mainly on the following entries in Zha Fuxi's Guide

    (year; QQJC Vol/page)
Further information
(QQJC = 琴曲集成 Qinqu Jicheng; QF = 琴府 Qin Fu)
  1.  浙音釋字琴譜
      (<1491; I/212)
9TL; Si Shun (details above); lyrics begin, "有虞歷有周,相去千有百餘秋...."
1585 lyrics almost same; 1530 are related but quite different
    . 謝琳太古遺音
      (1511; I/279)
Wen Wang Cao; short unrelated song; lyrics begin, "翼翼翱翔,彼鳳凰兮....";
Preface cites Xie Xiyi attributing Wen Wang; further details
  2. 謝琳太古遺音
      (1511; I/280)
Wen Wang Qu; musically related to 1491 in spite of completely different lyrics;
Here it is not divided into numbered sections but uses as lyrics the text of three Shi Jing poems
  3. 西麓堂琴統
      (1525; III/154)
10; Wen Wang Si Shi; "一名呂望興周 also called Lü Wang Xing Zhou"
Afterword tells of Lü Wang and the meeting at the Wei Riverbank
  4. 發明琴譜
      (1530; I/383)
9L; Wen Wang Si Shun; lyrics and melody related to 1491
No commentary
  5. 風宣玄品
      (1539; II/243)
11T; Wen Wang Si Shun; musically related to 1491
  6. 梧岡琴譜
      (1546; I/428)
8; Wen Wang Cao; "same as Wen Wang Si Shi";
Musically related to 1491; no commentary
  7. 步虛僊琴譜
      (1556; III/283)
8; Wen Wang; no commentary
Like 1546 at beginning and end but changes in middle; divides sections differently
  8. 太音傳習
      (1552; IV/118)
10; Wen Wang Si Shun; related to 1546 but compare 1556;
Preface only about Wen Wang
  9. 太音補遺
      (1557; III/362)
8; Wen Wang; same as 1546
Preface basically same as 1552
10a. 琴譜正傳
      (1561; II/434)
10; Wen Wang Cao;
Related to others
10b. 琴譜正傳
      (1561; II/444)
8; Wen Wang Cao, "same as Wen Wang Si Shi";
Identical to 1546
    . 新刊正文對音捷要
      (1573; #33)
1; like 1511;
Same as in 1585 Wen Wang Cao?
    . 重修真傳琴譜
      (1585; IV/408)
1; Wen Wang Cao; lyrics same as 1511; music related to 1511 but very different;
Preface still as in 1511
11. 重修真傳琴譜
      (1585; IV/452)
9TL; Si Shun; lyrics and titles almost same as 1491
music related but very different
    . 琴書大全
      (1590; V/498)
Er Fei Si Shun; 3; unrelated;
A version of Xiang Fei Yuan
12. 琴書大全
      (1590; V/511)
8; Wen Wang Cao; same as 1546
    . 自遠堂琴譜
      (1802; XVII/523)
1; Wen Wang Cao; Yu Yin
Lyrics as 1511 but music unrelated

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