Xilutang Qintong: Additional comments
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Xilutang Qintong
Qin Anthology of the Hall in the Western Foothills
1525 (not 1549)

John Thompson

Two of the most important surviving early handbooks, the present one and Taigu Yiyin, were compiled by men living in She county, the area south of the Huangshan mountain range noted for producing a large number of successful businessmen. As yet there have been no published studies into the reasons for this.

Taigu Yiyin consists of a large number of qin songs, many quite simple. Were these designed for merchant families that wished their children (young women as well as young men) to have a scholarly education?

Xilutang Qintong, which apparently only existed in hand copies, has many beautiful melodies surviving nowhere else. There are too many of these to have been all composed by Wang Zhi himself: were they collected from sources away from the main scholarly centers, and thus never printed in handbooks compiled by scholars and/or princes?

Xilutang Qintong uses 14 different tunings (including standard tuning, which is divided into six different modes). This is more than in Shen Qi Mi Pu, which has the same for its standard tuning and has seven non-standard tunings (see mode chart).

As for the 170 qin melodies, their earliest known sources are as follows:1

Source of earliest
  surviving tablature
# of melodies
  in 1525
Comments (with reference to the XLTQT ToC)
Shen Qi Mi Pu
    51 (or 50) From SQMP Folio 1 it is missing #s 3 - 4, 7 - 9, 10? (renamed), 12 - 16;
from Folio 2 missing #22, 25; from Folio 3 missing #55
Wusheng Qinpu
      1 #62; Xianshan Yue: the only later reprinting of any melody from the 1457 handbook
Zheyin Shizi Qinpu
      4 #s 71, 73, 112 and 147;
In 1525 none has lyrics
Taigu Yiyin
      5 #s 29 - 31, 44 and 98;
#s 29 - 31 are versions of one melody, Ya Sheng Cao
Xilutang Qintong
 1525; first here
    34 5 of these are in only one other pu: 41, 81, 83, 100 and 139
Xilutang Qintong
 1525; only here
    75 76 if Liu Shang is considered as new instead of as a version of the 1425 Jiu Kuang

As of 2022 I had transcribed and recorded 81 of the 109 pieces whose earliest version survives from here. Reconstruction of the remaining 28 and much further analysis could and should be done.

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. 1525, not 1549
According to analysis done when Xilutang Qintong was thought to date from 1549, 14 melodies now called "first here" were listed as having the following sources:

Previously considered
  earliest tablature
# of melodies
  in 1525
Comments (with reference to the XLTQT ToC)
Fengxuan Xuanpin
    10 #s 1, 4, 8, 21, 27, 42, 72, 85, 92 and 100.
Wugang Qinpu
      4 #s 32, 91, 125 and 150.


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