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Tianwen Ge Qinpu
Qin Handbook of Hearing Heaven Pavilion 1

The Qin Handbook of Hearing Heaven Pavilion (Tianwen Ge Qinpu or Tianwen'ge Qinpu), published in 1876, was compiled and edited under the direction of Tang Yiming.3 Tang was from Shaanxi, but lived in Chengdu, as did his student and assistant in this work, Zhang Kongshan, originally from Zhejiang.4 In charge of corrections was Ye Zongwu of Chengdu.5 Zhang Kongshan is most famous today for two melodies:

  1. Zui Yu Chang Wan (a new melody using an old title)
  2. Liu Shui (the more elaborate "72 gunfu" version). Commentary with the version of Liu Shui attributed to him in this handbook says he originally learned it from Feng Tongyun of Zhejiang province,6 but that that version was not actually written down; thus the original source of the "72 gunfu" version is not completely clear (see comments with Zhang's biography).

According to Zha Fuxi's commentary,7 Tianwen'ge Qinpu has 16 folios of melodies; in front of this is another volume with three folios of essays. The essays and most of the melodies were collected from earlier sources. In his Guide (p. [213] 171) Zha correctly states that there are 145 melodies in all, but the ensuing list there are only 141 entries; this is because based on the edition in the 30-volume Qinqu Jicheng (QQJC XXV) his listing misses three entries from Folio 1 and combines 2 versions of a melody in Folio 10.8 Melodies in the handbook are grouped by mode, first standard tuning, then non-standard tuning;9 however, the only modal preludes are five newly composed ones in standard tuning.10 Zha speaks of two editions of this book, both apparently published in Chengdu with the same date of publication.11

Of the 145 titles, all but 24 (see end of chart) are said to have been copied from 13 earlier handbooks.

Regarding the remaining 121 melodies, the earlier editions of most can now be examined, since all but one of these earlier handbooks (1849) have now been published in the 30-volume edition of Qinqu Jicheng (details in the Appendix below). Some preliminary comparisons suggest that most if not all are indeed copies. Some include minor differences; these perhaps indicate usage of a different edition or of an edition marked with corrections or clarifications, but they could also result from new revisions or even copy errors.

As for the 24 melodies not attributed to earlier handbooks, they consist of the following:

Based on the attributions in QQJC XXV, the sources of these 24 melodies are as follows:

Zha's Guide, p. 42 (42), lists 11 new titles in Tianwen Ge Qinpu, but the handbook itself identifies two of these as being from Qinyuan Xinchuan Quanbian (1670); these two are Huai Xian Cao (XXV/229) and Yun Zhu Ta (XXV/429). The former can actually be traced back to 1590, where it is called Huai Shui Xian, and the latter is under the same name in 1670 (XI/489). There are thus eleven new melodies Tianwen Ge Qinpu; nine have new titles while two others have old titles.18 Although Zhang Kongshan's new Zuiyu Chang Wan has become very popular, and Kongzi Du Yi is still played, none of the nine new titles in Tianwen'ge Qinpu is listed in any later handbook.

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Qin Handbook of Hearing Heaven Pavilion (天聞閣琴譜 Tianwen Ge Qinpu or Tianwen'ge Qinpu)
The title can also be romanized Tianwenge Qinpu, but it might then be confused with "tian weng e". 天聞閣 5961.xxx (not 天問閣). Van Gulik, Lore, p.187: says the full title is 天聞閣琴譜集成 Tianwen'ge Qinpu Jicheng, indicating it was

"a collection of reprints from other handbooks. Well-known tunes are often given in as many as five or six different versions. Many of the good qinpu being very rare, it was the compiler's intention to put their contents at the disposal of qin students in convenient form. The introductory chapters (which fill 4 volumes) are also compiled from other handbooks....Some of his own compositions are inserted among the others; these are distinguished by the literary name of the compiler, Song Xian, being printed in the lower outer margin...."

"Song Xian" is 唐松仙 Tang Songxian (Tang Yimin). Van Gulik also expressed regret that

"the publisher confined himself to simply reprinting the various the various tunes, in exactly the same form as he found them (the sources being indicated in the lower part of the outer margin); thus there is no unity in the notation of the tunes."

Van Gulik expressed similar regret with Shen Qi Mi Pu, strangely (for an antiquarian) ignoring the value of preserving the original tablature as a tool for analyzing aspects of the music such as their relative age. There the preservation of the original tablature actually increases its value; here, since most of the original tablature still exists, it might have been interesting to see how an editor ca. 1876 re-wrote earlier tablature. Most likely, though, the result would have included a number of unexplained revisions, and that may indeed have been the case here (see comment).

3. Tang Yiming 唐彝銘
Tang Yiming, nickname Songxian (松仙 song xian: pine immortal), was from 邠州 Binzhou in 陝西 Shaanxi. He was a teacher of Zhang Kongshan. 12 melodies in Tianwen Ge Qinpu are said to be from his tablature:

  1. Gongyin Chudiao (XXV/142)
  2. Shuanghe Mu Quan (XXV/211; new melody title)
  3. Shangyin Chudiao (XXV/245)
  4. Ran Xian G (XXV/246; new melody title)
  5. Jiaoyin Chudiao (XXV/313)
  6. Zhiyin Chudiao (XXV/345)
  7. Yu Qiao Wenda (XXV/243)
  8. Yuyin Chudiao (XXV/436)
  9. Pingsha Luo Yan (XXV/514)
  10. Wan Guo Lai Chao (XXV/575)
  11. Shanju Yin (XXV/576)
  12. Pei Lan (XXV/597)

To my knowledge none of these versions is played today.

4. Zhang Kongshan 張空山
The famous qin player 張合修 Zhang Hexiu was better known by his style name 張孔山 Zhang Kongshan (Empty Mountain Zhang). He spent most of his life in Sichuan province but he was originally from Zhejiang province, and in Sichuan he often associated with other qin players who had come there from Zhejiang, such as 曹稚雲 Cao Zhiyun, 錢綬詹 Qian Shoudan and 馮彤雲 Feng Tongyun, the latter of whom had been Zhang's teacher in Zhejiang. In Sichuan Zhang's main teacher was 唐彝銘 Tang Yiming, and Zhang worked with Tang on the compilation of the qin handbook Tianwenge Qinpu. Since today Zhang Kongshan is the player most closely associated with a Sichuan style of qin play it might be said that this is a style that developed in Sichuan under the influence of a Zhejiang style of play. For example, Zhang is also perhaps best known as the innovator of what is said to be a characteristically Sichuan-style version of the famous melody Liu Shui, but he originally learned this piece from Feng Tongyun, his teacher from Zhejiang.

Tianwen'ge Qinpu includes eight melodies as played by Zhang Kongshang. If these pieces could be reconstructed as played by Zhang (this is complicated by the fact that he apparently developed or continued to develop some of them after publication of this handbook), it would be interesting to play them side by side with earlier versions, then compare their differing styles. The eight are:

  1. Gao Shan (missing from Zha Guide list (105) 63
  2. Liu Shui (the "72 gunfu" version? Learned from his teacher Feng Tongyun (further below)
  3. Kongzi Du Yi (from a Fujian school rendition)
  4. Pingsha Luoyan (no commentary; related to earlier versions)
  5. Xiaoxiang Yeyu (no commentary; related to 1739 version; 1677 version is unrelated)
  6. Hua Die (no commentary; new title; new melody?)
  7. Zui Yu Chang Wan (no commentary; old title; new melody?)
  8. Yu Qiao Wenda (no commentary; related to earlier versions).

As can be seen, only three of these melodies are previously unpublished, and only one of these has a new title, Butterfly Transformation (Hua Die); apparently a new composition, it does not seem to have survived him.

Tianwen'ge Qinpu attributes to Zhang both of the two pieces that are apparently new melodies but with old titles:

  1. A Drunken Fisherman Sings in the Evening (醉漁唱完 Zui Yu Chang Wan)
    This the more famous of these. The old melody of this title subsequently left the repertoire (but see the commentary under my reconstruction), while Zhang Kongshan's new one is one of the most popular in the current repertoire.
  2. Confucius Reads the Book of Changes (孔子讀易 Kongzi Du Yi).
    This other new composition is said to have come from the Fujian tradition.

From this it is not clear whether Zhang should be considered as the composer or as a re-arranger; the same is true of the version here of Liu Shui.

Zhang Kongshan's version of Liu Shui  72 gunfu Liu Shui with explanation (1911)  
This is often called the "72 gunfu"; it is perhaps the best known example of Zhang's innovation; this is also the version of Liu Shui most popularly played today, not to mention the melody for which Zhang Kongshan himself is best known. It has been said that the gunfu express the bold mountains of Sichuan, whereas the earlier versions suggest water flowing down the tamer mountains of eastern China. Most specifically, Zhang's version has been said to have been inspired by the sound of the Min River as it passed through Dujiangyan on its way southeast towards Chengdu.

The source of the "72 gunfu", on the other hand, is not completely clear. The commentary with the version attributed to him in Tianwen'ge Qinpu says that when young Zhang learned it from his original teacher in Zhejiang province, Feng Tongyun. However, it adds, the piece had very complicated fingering and was not written down. In order to include it in Tianwen'ge Qinpu Tang Yimin apparently searched for various old tablatures and included some fingering symbols that cannot be found in other tablature and that had no explanations. Tang himself does not mention "72 gunfu", but his edition is copied exactly in Qinxue Congshu Folio 11, where it is called the "72 gunfu Liu Shui". Some explanation of the symbols is added there (see here at right), but apparently by this time there were also other copies available that had transferred the rare symbols into standard tablature.

The transcription in Guqin Quji I/38ff of Guan Pinghu's Liu Shui, with all the gunfu written out, says it is from Tianwen'ge Qinpu. However, it is difficult to compare this with the Tianwen'ge Qinpu version because the transcription uses only the standard symbols, not the ones used in Tianwen'ge Qinpu itself. Xu Jian's commentary on Liu Shui in his Outline History of the Qin (pp. 177-9) suggests that this may not be the 72 gunfu version. Xu says that there are many versions of Liu Shui which today say they come from Tianwen'ge Qinpu, but in fact they do not, they are probably modified from one of the ways he actually played it. The variety of later editions suggests that Zhang Kongshan never wrote down his own 72 gunfu version, and/or that he himself played numerous versions of it.

Chapter 8 of Xu Jian's Outline History of the Qin (p.174), says the following about Zhang Kongshan:

張合修 Zhang Hexiu, style name 張孔山 Zhang Kongshan (Empty Mountain Zhang), nickname 半髯子 Banranzi, was originally from Zhejiang province, where he studied the qin with 馮彤云 Feng Tongyun. During the reign of the Qing dynasty's 咸豐 Xianfeng emperor (1851-61) he became a 道士 Daoist Master at 皇觀 Huangguan (imperial temple?) in 青城山 Qingcheng Mountain (about 65 km northwest of Chengdu, in Sichuan Province), where many people came to study qin. However, Zhang instead exchanged qin arts with such players as Daoist Master 楊紫東 Yang Zidong of (nearby) 灌縣 Guan county (today's 都江堰 Dujiangyan, on the 岷江 Min River) and 錢綬詹 Qian Shouzhan (錢壽佔?), author of the 錢氏十操 10 Melodies of Mr. Qian. In 1875, after continuing with 曹稚雲 Cao Zhiyun (see Zhiyun Qinpu), he became a house guest in the home of 唐彝銘 Tang Yiming, helping him examine the hundreds of qin tablatures he had collected over the years; they selected 145 of them and edited them into Tianwenge Qinpu (1876), the Ming and Qing period handbook with the most number of qin tablatures. (Does he mean printed handbooks? Xilutang Qintong had 170 melodies, but perhaps existed only in hand copies.) In 1904 at 武昌 Wuchang (Wuhan) he became a professional qin teacher; his students were numerous. Those who learned his tradition included 顧玉成 Gu Yucheng...(who in turn taught two sons and they compiled a)...百瓶齋 Baipingzhai Qinpu. From 1912 to 1916 Mr. Gu joined with 彭慶壽 Peng Qingshou and others in Changsha to form a qin society. The qin melodies passed down by Zhang Kongshan, such as Liu Shui, Zui Yu Chang Wan, Pu'an Zhou and Kongzi Du Yi, have a particularly distinctive quality. The melody Liu Shui was Zhang Kongshan's representative piece, especially emphasized in the world of qin.

A 百瓶齋琴譜 Baipingzhai Qinpu, attributed to 顧玉成 Gu Yucheng of Chengdu and said to date from the 1850s, is available in modern editions. Its provenance is unclear. It is also not clear to what extent its tablature reflects the style of Zhang Kongshan or Peng Qingshou (in this compare also 荻灰館琴譜 Dihuiguan Qinpu, 1853)

See also Wu Wenguang's dissertation, p. 126.

5. Ye Zongwu 葉宗(示吳)
32127.xxx; (示吳 is not in my computer: 25250 = 福).
From 成都 Chengdu.

6. 馮彤雲 Feng Tongyun
From Zhejiang province

7. Zha Fuxi's commentary on Tianwen'ge Qinpu
See Zha Fuxi, Guide, Section 8 (p. 171). His listing of the melodies is on pp. 171 - 177.

8. Number of melodies
The confusion over the number of melodies in Tianwen'ge Qinpu seems to be caused in part by varying editions, not all of them complete. Also, it seems quite likely that many of the 145 pieces were printed separately and then when combined for the handbook they were not always put together in the same order. Specifically regarding the listing in the Guide, it is missing three titles from Folio 1 (#2 Dongtian Chun Xiao; #3 Yang Chun; and #4 He Yang Chun). In addition, there is only one entry for He Wu Dongtian, whereas in Folio 10 the handbook actually has two different versions.

There may also be some confusion based on the fact that some of the entries are only poetic essays, with no tablature, but these were are not included in Zha's listing.

9. Number of melodies in each mode
The Qinqu Jicheng edition of Tianwen Ge Qinpu organizes the melodies into 16 folios, two each for the five modes using standard tuning and one each for the six using non-standard tunings, as follows:

  1. Gong Yin: #1-24
  2. Shang Yin: #25-49 (#48, 平沙落雁 by 張空山, mode not identified)
  3. Jiao Yin: #50-66
  4. Zhi Yin: #67-93
  5. Yu Yin: #94-118
  6. Huangzhong Diao: #119-121
  7. Taicou Diao: #122-126
  8. Guxian Diao: #127-129 (#127, Li Sao actually uses qiliang tuning)
  9. Ruibin Diao: #130-138
  10. Yize Diao: #139-142
  11. Wuyi Diao: #143-145

Nevertheless, some melodies are mislabeled. And only the standard tuning modes include modal preludes, none at the beginning of the respective mode.

10. Modal preludes in Tianwen'ge Qinpu
These modal preludes, all apparently new, are located as follows (#s based on Zha's index; analysis from Columbia University edition):

  1. 宮音初調 Gongyin Chudiao : #1 (compare Gong Yi)
    Tonal centers for stopped sounds = open 1st and 3rd
  2. 商音初調 Shangyin Chudiao : #37 (compare Shang Yi)
    In the stopped sounds section the tonal center seems to be on open fourth string, also ending on that note. However, in the harmonic coda the last three clusters say to play at the 7th hui: 1st string, then 6th string, then 1st and 7th together (there are also other apparent mistakes).
  3. 角音初調 Jiaoyin Chudiao : #57 (compare Jiao Yi)
    In both the stopped sounds passage and the harmonic coda the tonal center seems to be on open fifth and seventh strings. Both begin on the equivalent of the open fifth string and end on the equivalent of the open seventh.
  4. 徵音初調 Zhiyin Chudiao : #76 (compare Zhi Yi)
    The opening harmonic passage begins centered on equivalent of open fourth string, ends on equivalent of open sixth. The stopped sounds passage centers on open sixth equivalent. Closing harmonics also center on open sixth equivalent.
  5. 羽音初調 Yuyin Chudiao : #107 (compare Yu Yi)
    In the stopped sounds passage the tonal center seems at first to be on the equivalent of the open seventh string, but it ends on the equivalent of the open fourth string. The closing harmonic coda begins on the equivalent of the open seventh string but the last three clusters say to play at the 7th hui: 2nd string, then 4th string, then 1st and 4th together. Playing the 1st string seems out of place: a mistake for the second. If it is not a mistake then the composer must be looking for a special effect.

In sum, if the open strings are considered 5 6 1 2 3 5 6, then the tonal centers for each modal prelude are closely related to their note name (e.g., in shangyin chudiao the note shang is important). However, the mode does not seem here necessarily to be named after the primary tonal center or even the ending note.

11. Available copies of Tianwen'ge Qinpu
Until the publication in 2010 of the complete Qinqu Jicheng, the only copy I had been able to examine was an incomplete edition at the Columbia University Library in New York. Most of my original comments here were based on this edition. The book was quite hard to find, as library internet computer searches of libraries with catalogues online showed only the one at Columbia. Examination of that edition in January 2006 showed that it was published in four boxes of folios. The first box (missing from the Columbia University editon) has all of the essays plus Folio 1 of the melodies. The fourth box has four volumes: Folio 10, Folios 11-13, Folio 14, and Folios 15-16.

The available folios 2 to 16 show some minor differences in the order of the melodies compared to Zha's list. Zha's list could be incorrect, but since there is no through-pagination, each melody being individually paginated, it would also have been easy for the order to have been changed in a different edition. In addition, however, some pages seem to be missing, there is some mixing up of the pages within some of the melodies, and in at least one case the paper on which the tablature is printed was turned inside out (in traditional Chinese printing the pages are printed on only one side of the paper, which is then doubled over).

The missing melodies from the Columbia University edition's Folio 1 should be the same as those in the QQJC Folio 1. However, based on Zha Fuxi's comments in his Guide, at least three of these might have been missing from the original edition used by Columbia.

12. 醉漁唱晚 Zui Yu Chang Wan
Tianwen'ge Qinpu has two musically unrelated versions:

  1. Old version, called simply 醉漁 Zui Yu (XXV/275)
    12 sections 商音 shang yin 羽調 yu diao
  2. New version (XXV/360)
    6 sections, 徵音 zhi yin

Note that the old version was orginally categorized as 徵調 zhi mode.

13. 孔子讀易 Kongzi Du Yi
Zha's Guide says Kongzi Du Yi (Confucius Reads the Book of Changes) is the same as the earlier title 讀易 Du Yi, found in four other handbooks from 1739 to 1914. However, these titles seem also to refer to several unrelated melodies (comment). Zhang Kongshan comments with the Tianwen'ge Qinpu tablature that it comes from the 閩派 Fujian school. "宮音,徵調,閩派,六段" Six Sections.

14. 化蝶 Hua Die (Transform into Butterfly)
The title Hua Die is suggestive of Zhuang Zhou Meng Die, but there is no apparent musical relation.

15. 王仲山 Wang Zhongshan
Creator of Wang Yun Si Qin and the version here of Jinmen Dailou? No further information.

16. 許荔牆 Xu Liqiang
No further information.

17. 蓮池僧 Lianchi Seng
No further information.

18. Eleven new melodies in Tianwen Ge Qinpu
The nine new melodies under new titles in Tianwen Ge Qinpu are as follows:

  1. 宮音初調 Gongyin Chudiao (attributed to Tang Songxian)
  2. 商音初調 Shangyin Chudiao (attributed to Tang Songxian)
  3. 角音初調 Jiaoyin Chudiao (attributed to Tang Songxian)
  4. 徵音初調 Zhiyin Chudiao (attributed to Tang Songxian)
  5. 羽音初調 Yuyin Chudiao (attributed to Tang Songxian)
  6. 雙鶴沐泉 Shuanghe Mu Quan (attributed to Tang Songxian)
  7. 髯仙歌 Ran Xian Ge (attributed to Tang Songxian)
  8. 化蝶 Hua Die (attributed to Zhang Kongshan)
  9. 望雲思親 Wang Yun Si Qin (attributed to Wang Zhongshan)

The two new melodies under old titles are:

  1. 醉漁唱晚 Zuiyu Chang Wan (attributed to Zhang Kongshan)
  2. 孔子讀易 Kongzi Du Yi (attributed to Zhang Kongshan)

Note that 懷僊操 Huai Xian Cao, which the Zha Guide lists as a new title, is actually in 1670, where it was called Huai Shui Xian.

Appendix: Chart showing the sources of melodies in Tianwenge Qinpu;
Table of Contents and Zha Fuxi's Guide.

    (year; QQJC Vol/page)
Number of melodies in Tianwenge Qinpu from the handbook or person at left, plus further information
(QQJC = 琴曲集成 Qinqu Jicheng; QF = 琴府 Qin Fu)
  1. 重修真傳琴譜
      (1585; IV)
2 (頤貞 Yi Zhen and 醒心集 Xing Xin Ji; both are same as in 1585)
First is said to be from 合壁 Hebi, the second by 西峰 Xifeng
  2. 琴苑新傳全編
      (1670; XI.4)
17; includes 懷僊操 Huai Xian Cao, here an alternate title for 懷水僊 Huai Shui Xian
Hard to see, as pages of Huai Xian Cao are completely mixed with those of the following piece, Qin Shu Le Dao)
  3. 大還閣琴譜
      (1673; X.3)
  4. 松風閣琴譜
      (1677/82; XII.3)
2: (九環操 Jiu Huan Cao and 樂山隱 Le Shan Yin
  5. 德音堂琴譜
      (1691; XII.7)
  6. 蓼懷堂琴譜
      (1702; XIII.3)
18 (but three seem to be missing from the QQJC edition of 1702:
      Qiao Ge, Ao Ai Ge and Da Ya)
  7. 誠一堂琴譜
      (1705; XIII.4)
  8. 五知齋琴譜
      (1722; XIV.4)
4 (one is 釋談章 Shitan Zhang, said to combine versions of 韓十耕 Han Shigeng and 1664 as well as 1722)
  9. 治心齋琴譜
      (1739; XVIII.2)
10. 春草堂琴譜
      (1744; ?)
11. 自遠堂琴譜
      (1802; XVII.2)
12. 梅華庵(琴譜)
      (Meihua'an Qinpu; 1833)
3 (handbook is same as, or a version of, Erxiang Qinpu, compiled by Jiang Wenxun)
An online reference seems to suggest Music Research Institute has one:
律呂賸言三卷,清江文勛選 影印音樂研究所藏清道光十四年梅華庵刻本
13. 稚雲琴譜
5 (identified only as "曹稚雲譜 tablature of Cao Zhiyun"); QQJQ XXIII. Six melodies are claimed but only the latter three listed here are in the existing handbook:
良宵引 Liangxiao Yin, 普庵咒 Pu'an Zhou, 靜觀吟 Jing Guan Yin, 塞上鴻 Saishang Hong, 平沙落雁 Pingsha Luoyan and 瀟湘水雲 Xiao Xiang Shui Yun.
14. 唐松仙
Tang Songxian
12; these include two new titles, Shuanghe Mu Quan and Ran Xian Ge
Also: the five new modal prelude titles
15. 張空山
Zhang Kongshan
8; see further note and list
The only new title is Hua Die
16. 王仲山
Wang Zhongshan
2: 2 new: 望雲思親 Wang Yun Si Qin; 19th century; NFI
金門待漏 Jinmen Dai Lou (different from Yu Qiao Wenda)
17. 許荔牆
      Xu Liqiang
1 (Gao Shan); 19th century; NFI
18. 蓮池僧
      Lianchi Seng
1 (Zhuang Zhou Meng Die); 19th century monk; NFI
19. No attribution
2: 宮音初調 Gongyin Chudiao and 商音初調 Shangyin Chudiao
(but see Tang Songxian above)

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