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Wugang Qinpu
Wood Ridge Qin Handbook 1
Afterword by Huang Xian (expand)2 
This handbook has the earliest surviving qin tablature attributed to the Xu family orthodox tradition.4 The preface by Chen Jing5 says that this qin tradition originated with the famous 13th century qin master Xu You (Xu Tianmin).6 At the end of the Song dynasty Xu was a "house guest" of the famous collector Yang Zuan.7 The preface then outlines the transmission of the music from Xu Tianmin to Zhang Zhu,8 who came to the Ming court in Beijing and taught the eunuch Dai Yi,9 the teacher of Huang Xian,10 also a court eunuch. Huang Xian compiled the handbook and provided an afterword (see at right and below) that give some detail of qin activities at the court.

If tablature in Shen Qi Mi Pu (1425) was actually copied from surviving qin tablature in the collection of Yang Zuan, the Xu family tradition might thus document either a separate Song dynasty tradition, or a separate transmission of the same music over several generations.11 Although none of the 42 titles in Wugang Qinpu were new, all the melodies have differences from earlier versions and some seem to be completely different.12 What has not been determined is whether any of these differences in fact represent an earlier tradition.13

In 2015 Chen Chengbo published transcriptions of nine of the 42 melodies, and these are recorded on a CD by ROI.14

Zha Fuxi
from Qinqu Jicheng, Vol. 1
Beijing, Zhonghua Shuju Chuban Faxing, 1981 15
See also Qinpu Zhengchuan

(This handbook) in the collection of the Beijing library,16 printed in the Ming dynasty, (is) a specialized collection of qin tablature compiled by (the eunuch) Huang Xian of Pingle county in Guangxi province. In front there is a preface by Chen Jing dated 1546. The book is divided into two folios. At the end of the (2nd) folio is an afterword (also dated 1546) by Huang Xian. Altogether there are 42 pieces. (One has lyrics.17)

In my opinion (Wugang Qinpu) is what is listed among the reference books in the Yuelü Quanshu of Zhu Zaiyu18 as the Zhang Zhu Qinpu (Qin Handbook of Zhang Zhu).19 Huang Xian's afterword clearly shows it is the original tablature of Zhang Zhu; the preface by Chen Jing clearly shows that Zhang Zhu's qin (music) was an outflowing from the Southern Song school of Xu Yu, (and) that there was an orderly lineage among teachers and friends; it is called the "Xumen Zhengchuan" (Correct Tradition of the House of Xu; see this Xu tradition chart and its related footnote). Zhang Zhu, a commoner who played qin, was summoned (to the palace) by the Ming Xiaozong emperor (reign title Hong Zhi, 1488-1505) to teach the Xumen Zhengchuan to the eunuch Dai Yi. Huang Xian, also a eunuch, studied Xumen Zhengchuan from Dai Yi. The founder of the Xumen (Zhengchuan), Xu Yu, had in turn been a disciple of the Song dynasty's Guo Mian.20 This shows clearly that the Zhejiang school Xumen Zhengchuan, which inherited Guo Mian's style of taking its models from the rustic music of ordinary people, was still current among the people during the middle period of the Ming dynasty.21

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Woodridge Qin Handbook (梧岡琴譜 Wugang Qinpu)
15169.5 only 梧岡 Wugang, nickname for various people; 15169.10 has 梧岡道人 as a nickname of 黃獻 Huang Xian (see below). The entry in Qinshu Cunmu has three lines, quoting information about Huang Xian found in Qianqingtang Shumu, which calls it Huang Xian Wugang Qinpu.

Some transcriptions and recordings are available.

2. Afterword by Huang Xian (嘉靖丙午 1546; expand)
Its text is as follows,

孝廟皇上命學琴、書於司禮太監竹樓戴公門下。朝夕孜孜,頃刻無怠,而同遊者數人, 雖或然有所得,獨余與王君詵、陳君繡、田君斌、蘭君永、王君陽用,獲成其業,皆得先公竹樓之雅趣。 余年躋六十餘,其志未嘗少倦,而琴簏知,不忍自諱,恐泯其傳,乃托司禮宜軒王公、友琴劉公, 並同志劉靜庵、成永川、韋雲樵、王野村、段世愚、魏節庵、王芸窗、韓虛亭、譚竹溪、楊松鶴輩,助資刻其譜,以廣其傳, 而與四方賢者共之,是誠德業兩全者矣。
旨,授琴司禮梅東蕭公,我竹樓戴公輩數人。獨二公深得張公指法之妙。其譜余考正親書,其用心不可盡言。 規矩法度吟、揉、綽、注、輕、重、疾、徐、徽、絃、上下,無織毫錯亂之疵。殆非江操之尋常者可比。 後之君子有取於斯譜者當寶而重之,請勿忍焉。

Some terms:

Otherwise not yet translated.

4. 徐門正傳 Xumen Zhengchuan (Xu Household Correct Tradition)
For further details see Xu Jian's Qinshi Chubian, Chapter 7.A.1.

5. 陳經 Chen Jing
Chen Jing (42618.273/2), zi Bochang, attained jinshi during 1506-22. (?) See his preface, summarized in a footnote on the Xumen Orthodox Tradiion.

6. Xu Tianmin
Xu Tianmin, proper name 徐宇 Xu Yu, also called 徐雪江 Xu Xuejiang and other names, is also discussed under Xumen Orthodox Tradiion.

7. Yang Zuan
楊纘; also written 楊瓚 Yang Zan.

8. Zhang Zhu 張助 (more in QSCB)
The preface by Chen Jing (I/398, line 3ff) says he was from 姑蘇 Suzhou and had learned (the tradition of) (Xu) Xuejiang (Xu Tianmin), Qiushan, Xiaoshan and up to Xu Shen (referring to him as 仲和 rather than 和仲), thus represented the 徐門正傳 Xumen Orthodox Tradition.

The Xumen chart actually puts a 徐惟謙 Xu Weiqian between Xu Shen and Zhang Zhu; I am not sure of the source of that information. The afterword adds nothing further on him, and I do not know whether any details are given in the reference mentioned by Zha Fuxi (see also the footnote below on the Zhang Zhu Qin Handbook).

9. 戴義 Dai Yi
Also referred to as 竹樓 Zhulou (Bamboo Tower), but NFI at present other than that he was a eunuch and a student of 張助 Zhang Zhu.

10. 黃獻 Huang Xian (1485-1561)
In 1496 Huang Xian (48904.1324 字仲賢,號梧岡,廣西平樂人) style name Zhongxian, nickname Wugang, was from Pingle in Guangxi. He entered the palace in 1496 as a eunuch, and on imperial command studied literature and the qin from 戴義 Dai Yi (see above). Wugang Qinpu apparently includes melodies in the Xu tradition either as he himself played them, or as they were written in tablature in his possession (or both?). His melodies are also in Qinpu Zhengchuan.

11. Comparing transmission in Wugang Qinpu with that of Shen Qi Mi Pu
The Zhang Zhu footnote gives an outline that tries to document the transmission of the Xu Household Correct Tradition over what amounts to about 150 - 200 years. However, there is no information as to whether or which pieces had their tablature simply recopied or which were revised based on how succeeding generations interpreted the melodies. It may thus not be possible to know to what extent the Xu family tradition changed during this period.

As for Shen Qi Mi Pu, although Zhu Quan consciously tried to find and copy old tablature, he mentions that some of it was edited. Thus, although some if not all the tablature in Shen Qi Mi Pu (1425) probably dates from the Song dynasty, without tablature from that time or from the intervening period it is either difficult or impossible to determine how exactly the alternate versions in handbooks such as Wugang Qinpu reflect an alternate Song dynasty style.

12. Unique nature of Wugang Qinpu
There is more about this handbook in Xu Jian, Chapter 7a, as well as in Zha Fuxi's preface. As for melodies unique to Wugang Qinpu, its Gui Qu Lai Ci, for example, has the standard lyrics but a completely different melody. See also the comparative chart.

13. Wugang Qinpu melodies: deleloping or preserving?
Sometimes it is possible to say that one melody clearly developed from another, but a lot more research needs to be done before one can be confident of most such determinations.

14. Transciptions and recordings by 陳成渤 Chen Chengbo
The book 南宋浙派,古琴傳習錄 Nansong Zhepai, Guqin Chuanzilu (2015) has transcriptions by Chen Chengbo of nine of the melodies into number notation. ROI (龍吟) has published recordings of these nine on a separate CD called 浙派傳習錄 Zhepai Chuanxi Lu (composite or nylon-metal strings except as indicated). The title, translated as Attribution of Inheriting and Learning from the Zhe School, Volume I: A Woodcutter's Song (Qiao Ge) suggests further recordings are planned.

The nine melodies are:

  1. Qiao Ge
  2. Mei Hua Yin
  3. Pei Lan (silk strings)
  4. Bai Xue
  5. Wu Ye Ti
  6. Yi Lan
  7. Yasheng Cao
  8. Wen Wang Cao
  9. Zhao Jun Yuan

The CD has English translations of Chen's prefaces to each melody.

15. Commentary source
查阜西 Zha Fuxi; edited by 吳釗 Wu Zhao

16. 北京圖書館; still there?

17. One melody with lyrics: Gui Qu Lai Ci (Come Away Home; I/421)
Two other handbooks have the same version as here: Qinpu Zhengchuan (II/427) and Taiyin Buyi (III/338). All three of these handbooks are associated with the Xumen tradition. Other early versions are all related to the earliest, from Taigu Yiyin (1511; I/301).

18. 朱載宇 Zhu Zaiyu
Zhu Zaiyu (1536-ca.1610) was the Ming prince who discovered equal temperament.

19. 張助琴譜 Zhang Zhu Qin Pu
Qinshu Cunmu #176 lists only the title, with a reference to Qianqingtang Shumu; the latter gives only the title. Both books list Wugang Qinpu separately (see above).

20. 郭沔 Guo Mian
Guo Mian, style name Guo Chuwang, was born mid-12th century in Li Shui, Zhejiang province (about 200 km south of Hangzhou, then the capital). The preface to He Wu Dongtian (#25) mentions the Zixiadong Pu, a lost 12th qin handbook said to have had the transcriptions by Mao Minzhong and Xu Tianmin of performances by Guo Chuwang.

21. Rustic music of ordinary people
This was clearly a political comment: the actual relationship between qin music and other genres is largely unstudied.

Return to the annotated handbook list or to the Guqin ToC.