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The themes on this page are mostly, though not exclusively, more for discussion and/or analysis than for performance. Thus, a theme such as the qin in Vietnam is worth studying, but as yet I don't know how one would do a performance on this theme. The melodies listed are mainly those with the theme in their titles. Some of the themes could be expanded by adding titles that mention the topic in prefaces or section titles.

  1. Animals (including fantasy creatures such as dragons)
    See in separate entry: non-flying animals are mostly noticeable for their absence compared to birds (even the dragon can fly)

  2. Birds (and other flying creatures)
    separate entry: much more numerous than animals, especially considering dragons can fly.

  3. Bo Ya
    A whole program could be devoted to this legendary qin, his friend Zhong Ziqi, and his teacher, Cheng Lian
    See details under
    Bo Ya

  4. Drink Wine or Tea

  5. Fishermen and Woodcutters
    These melodies are all connected to
    idealized notions of fishing and woodsmenship (or fuel-gathering)

    1. Gao Shan (High Mountains) and Liu Shui (Flowing Streams): Bo Ya and the woodcutter Zhong Ziqi
    2. Qiao Ge (Woodcutter's Song)
    3. Shi Xian (Respect the Virtuous [Lu Shuang was fishing])
    4. Yu Ge (Fisherman's Song, standard tuning)
    5. Yu Ge (Fisherman's Song, ruibin tuning)
    6. Yu Ge Diao (Melody of the Fisherman's Song)
    7. Zui Yu Chang Wan (A Drunken Fisherman Sings in the Evening)
    8. Chun Jiang Wan Tiao (Spring River Evening View: fishing without bait)
    9. Yu Qiao Wenda (Dialogue Between the Fisherman and Woodcutter)

  6. Five String Qin Melodies (see separate entry)
    Materials in preparation

  7. Japan (see separate entry)
    Materials in preparation

  8. Morning
    Only a few melodies focus on morning (compare "
    evening"), but many others mention it

    1. Pheasants' Morning Flight (1425, #42)
      The early morning flight reminds a woodcutter he has no partner
    2. Three Partings for Yangguan (1531, #23)
      A famous morning departure from Weicheng
    3. Canon of Pure Tranquility (1592, #3)
      A Daoist morning lesson

  9. Mountains (moved)

  10. Plants and trees (see also orchids)
    Commentary on or subtitles to qin melodies sometimes mention flowers and trees, with the specific flower most commonly mentioned in titles being the orchid. There are also several concerning plum blossoms (including one of the most popular of all qin melodies) and plum trees (of which I have learned one), several about pine trees (or wind in the pines), and at least one about peonies (a song that I have worked on, but have not as yet been able to make into a melody I consider interesting). Entries other than orchids include:

    1. Meihua Sannong (Three Repetitions of Plum Blossom)
    2. Meihua Qu (Plum Blossom Tune)
    3. Mei Hua (Plum Blossoms)
    4. Mei Shao Yue (Moon Atop a Plum Tree)
    5. Feng Ru Song Ge (Song of Wind Through Pines)
    6. Xing Tan (Apricot Tree Forum)
    7. Mudan Fu (Rhapsody on Peonies1)

  11. Travel
    Travel in literati culture can be both real and imagined; it can also concern specific

    1. Da Hujia (Great Blast of the Nomad Flute, 1425)
      Cai Wenji abducted and taken to Central Asia
    2. Gui Qu Lai Ci (Come Away Home; <1491)
      Lyrics are Tao Yuanming's rhapsody about returning home
    3. Yang Guan Sandie (Thrice Parting for Yangguan; <1491)
      Lyrics are Wang Wei's famous poem on a morning departure from Weicheng
    4. Taoyuan Chunxiao (Spring Dawn at Peach Spring, 1525)
      A Wuling fisherman travels to a hidden mountain utopia
    5. Tiantai Yin (Mt. Tiantai Prelude, <1491);
      The Wuling Mountain scholar portrays Liu Chen and Ruan Zhao visiting a utopia at Tiantai
    6. Qiao Ge (Song of the Woodcutter, 1425)
      An idyllic life wandering in the mountains
    7. Yu Ge (Song of the Fisherman, <1491)
      An idyllic life wandering along rivers
    8. Zepan Yin (Marshbank Prelude, 1425)
      A wandering Qu Yuan seeks an honest man
    9. Qiu Hong (Autumn Geese, 1425)
      Geese headed south in autumn suggest exile
    10. Yao Tian Sheng He (Jade Sheng Heavenly Crane, 1525)
      Wangzi Qiao rides a crane
    11. Huaxu Yin (Huaxu Clan Prelude, 1425)
      The Yellow Emperor flies to a Daoist utopia
    12. Liezi Yu Feng (Liezi Rides the Wind, 1425)
      The philosopher Liezi can travel at will
    13. Shen You Liuhe (Spirit Wandering the World, 1425)
      A Daoist journey into the limitless heavens
    14. Baji You (Wandering All Over, 1425)
      As previous
    15. Yuan You (Wander Afar, 1525)
      Daoist response to Qu Yuan's Li Sao
    16. Guanghan You (Wandering in a Lunar Palace, 1425)
      A Daoist trip to space; or Tang Minghuang dreams of visiting Yang Guifei on the moon
    17. Li Ling Si Han (Li Ling Thinks of Han, 1525)
      A famous general held captive in Central Asia
    18. Han Jie Cao (Lament with Han Credentials, 1525)
      A famous ambassador sent to Central Asia, then held there

  12. Vietnam
    Although there is evidence for the qin having been played at various times in Vietnam, there is very little information about this. Most of the detail on this comes from an article by Mitchell Clark, summarized
Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. 牡丹賦 Mudan Fu (Rhapsody on Peonies; 1 section)
Commentary moved to a footnote under Qin Melodies connected to Nanjing.

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