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TGYY   ToC / Song of Southern Breezes / Tracing data / five string qin melodies 聽錄音 Listen here or on  / 首頁
01. Song of Southern Winds
- Standard tuning:2   5 6 1 2 3 (uses only 1st five strings)
南風歌 1
Nan Feng Ge
  Shun plays Nan Feng Ge at Jiuyi Shan 3              
This piece, the first melody in Taigu Yiyin (1511), combines what are said to have been two songs, both attributed to Emperor Shun. In the first Shun tells of the omens that led to his agreeing to succeed Emperor Yao, and of the southern winds coming to honor him during the resulting celebration; in the second he tells of the benefits these winds bring to his people.

As with the second song, Si Qin Cao, Nan Feng Cao uses only five strings for the melody, thereby honoring the tradition of "Emperor Shun playing a five string qin and singing the lyrics of Southern Winds", after which the world was well-regulated (see below). The fame of this story led to debate on such matters as to whether it was the correct playing of the melody that led to the world being at peace, or whether this was due to the fact that Shun was simply playing music, without concern for the result of his action.4

There has been some confusion between "Nan Feng" (translated here as "Southern Winds") and "Nan Xun" (translated here as "Southern Breezes").5 Thus, although the Nan Xun Ge of ca. 1491 is clearly a different melody from the present Nan Feng Ge as well as from the nearly identical setting of these lyrics published in Fengxuan Xuanpin (1539), at least four melodically related later versions with the same lyrics as these Nan Feng Ge instead use the title Nan Xun Ge. In addition, other melodies on the southern winds/breezes theme, whether with different lyrics or no lyrics, also generally made the same connection as here with Shun and his five-string qin. Likewise, almost all versions limit themselves to the use of five strings.6

As mentioned, the present lyrics are said to have originated as the lyrics for two separate songs. In this regard, although some old melody lists include a song called Five Ancients Play (Wu Lao Tan), said to have the same theme as a Nan Xun Ge with the present lyrics (examples), another source suggests Five Ancients Play had only the first part of the lyrics.8 This latter interpretation is also in accord with the text in the Yuefu Shiji, which also arranges the lyrics as two separate poems (distinguished in the translation below as A and B).9 The lyrics of B can also be found in Kongzi Jiayu and elsewhere.10

Nevertheless, there is no evidence to suggest that at that time these surviving versions were particularly ancient song settings. Indeed, as with other melodies in this book, there is at present no reliable way to know the actual age of the music.

The lyrics for the Nan Feng Ge in the Yuefu Shiji, almost identical to those here in Taigu Yiyin, is accompanied by commentary that quotes two sources on their origins:

  1. Music Records Old and New says,

    Shun played a five-string qin, and sang the lyrics of Southern Winds.

  2. The Book of Music, in the Records of the Grand Historian,11 says,

    Shun sang Southern Winds and the world was well-regulated....

The lyrics in Taigu Yiyin begin "ascend" (陟彼 zhi bi), otherwise they are identical to those in YFSJ, which begins "return" (反彼 fan bi).12

The preface in Taigu Yiyin specifies that the instrument on which emperor Yu Shun played this piece was a five string qin. The Shao music to which it refers is also often attributed to Shun. A related ritual dance is said to have been performed throughout the Zhou dynasty. It is recorded in the Shi Ji biography of Confucius and elsewhere that after he heard this music performed in the state of Qi he was so overwhelmed that for three months he did not know the taste of meat.13

 
Original preface14 (translation not completed)

According to history, when Shun ascended to the throne, he opened up broad possibilities for public discussion. He asked worthy men to assist him, he acted respectfully without taking action, and used sounds to please the world. His music was called Shao. The Master said, "Shao is very beautiful and also very perfect." The book says, "(After Yao) played Xiaoshao nine times, the phoenixes arrived." It refers to this. This is the melody (Yao) played on the five string (qin); and later someone through imitation made this interpretation. And look at the words: "There is a yellow dragon coming out from the river, carrying cosmological diagrams easily through the loose sand." This is ancient writing, and so for explanation this was written down.

 
Lyrics15 and Music16: Two sections (聽錄音 Listen )
As mentioned, YFSJ divided these lyrics into 二首 two pieces (here marked A and B; see numbers in brackets for further subdivision). These two pieces (A+B) are played here first in harmonics, then repeated in a second section consisting mostly of stopped sounds. In both verses the setting follows the syllabic structure of the two poems in accordance with the standard pairing method. The possible exception to this is the two places, at the beginning of A1 and of A3 in both section, where the tablature calls for a phrase to be repeated without indicating whether the accompanying verse should be repeated. In my interpretation I include the lyrics only during the repeat at A1 and during the first playing of A3. In addition, at A3 the music pattern changes because of the repeat of the first phrase. Here the musical structure seems to divide the first two lines of A3 as 按圖觀讖兮,按圖觀讖兮。 then 閔天嗟嗟;擊石負韶兮,淪幽洞微。

1. (All harmonics)

A1. ([5+4] x 2; the tablature says to play the first line twice)
//,//。 陟彼三山兮,商嶽嵯峨。
// , // .   Zhi bi San Shan xi, Shang yue cuo e.
// , // .  
Ascending those Three Mountains,         the Shang peaks reveal rocky outlines.

天降五老兮,迎我來歌。
Tian jiang Wu Lao xi, ying wo lai ge.
From heaven descends (the music/light of) the Five Ancients,         welcoming me with song.

A2. ([4+4] x 2)
有黃龍兮,自出于河;
You huang long xi, zi chu yu he,
There is a
Yellow (river) dragon         coming out from the river,

負書圖兮,委蛇羅沙。
fu shu tu xi, wei yi luo sha.
Carrying cosmological diagrams         easily through the loose sand.

A3. ([5+4]) x 4)
按圖觀讖兮,//。   閔天嗟嗟;
An tu guan chen xi, // .   Min tian jie jie,
A cosmological diagram provides guidance, // .         A respectful heaven calls out in appreciation,

擊石負韶兮,淪幽洞微。
Ji shi fu Shao xi, lun you dong wei.
Beating on stones sustains the
Shao music,         plunging into the profound to penetrate the esoteric.

鳥獸蹌蹌兮,鳳凰來儀。
Niao shou qiang qiang xi, feng huang lai yi,
Birds and wild animals hurry along;         while a male and female phoenix come in ceremonial greeting.

凱風自南兮,喟其增嘆。
Kai feng zi nan xi, kui qi zeng tan.
Triumphal winds from the south,         sigh with increasing admiration.

B.   ([5+8] x 2)

南風之薰兮,可以解吾民之慍兮。
Nan feng zhi xun xi, ke yi jie wu min zhi yun xi,
Southern winds' balm         can be used to resolve my people's irritations.

南風之時兮,可以阜吾民之財兮。
Nan feng zhi shi xi, ke yi fu wu min zhi cai xi.
Southern winds' timeliness         can be used to multipy my people's resources.

2. (As Section 1, but stopped sounds except for final phrase)
- the melody is mostly very similar, but towards the end some phrases are quite different in both melody and tonality.
15

 
Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Nan Feng Ge 南風歌 (compare 南薰歌 Nan Xun Ge.)
This page on the Chinese website www.wjszx.com.cn explains some terms used here. The website includes the text of quite a few poems in the Yuefu Shiji but mostly without explanation.
2798.340 南風 gives a long introduction to nan feng and quotes numerous sources. 2798.340/2/i says 南風 Nan feng is 古詩名 the name of an old poem by Yu Shun; in it he praises his parents (earliest reference 禮記 Li Ji). 2798.340/2/ii says it is a song praising peace under heaven. There are then numerous references to this story. Other references cited include 爾雅 Er Ya, 後漢書 Hou Han Shu, 梁簡文帝 Emperor Jianwen of Liang, 孫逖 Sun Ti (8th c.), 禮記,樂記 Annals of Music in the Book of Rites, 尸子,綽子 Shizi: Chuozi (by 尸佼 Shi Jiao of the Warring States period), 孔子家語 Kongzi Jiayu, and 樂府詩集 Yuefu Shiji and 琴操 Qin Cao. YFSJ quotes the lyrics as here, citing "Qin Cao".

Other references: 書圖 Luo Shu & He Tu    

None of these references explains the title "Nan Feng". Perhaps that was too obvious to someone living in the cold north.
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2. Tuning and Mode
Taigu Yiyin does not directly name the tuning or mode but the relative tuning seems to be 5 6 1 2 3 5 6. The melodically related Nan Feng Ge in Fengxuan Xuanpin seems to include this piece under shang mode, but its modal characteristics (see under Shenpin Shang Yi) are not like those of other Ming melodies in shang mode (for which the tuning is usually considered to be 1 2 4 5 6 1 2). The Nan Xun Ge of 1585 is in zhi mode, which seems more appropriate (though still 1 2 4 5 6 1 2). For information about modes in general see Modality in Early Ming Qin Tablature.
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3. Shun plays the qin
This is a photograph of a statue at the 舜帝陵景區 Emperor Shun Memorial Scenic Area in 永州 Yongzhou, 九嶷山 Jiuyi Mountains, Hunan Province (near the Guangdong border; see Emperor Shun and photo source).
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4. Confucian vs Daoist interpretation
E.g., 陸賈 Lu Jia (d, 178 BCE), Non-Action; translated in Mark Csikszentmihalyi, Readings in Han Chinese Thought. pp.54/5.
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5. 南風 Southern winds vs. 南薰 southern breezes
This distinction between 風 and 薰 is somewhat arbitrary, as the context clearly suggests that the southern winds are also felt to be balmy. In addition, "xun" itself doesn't specifically refer to winds, instead having such meanings as "balmy" and "fragrant". Some further distinctions can be found with the commentary on Song of Southern Breezes (Nan Xun Ge), a musically unconnected but thematically related melody in Zheyin Shizi Qinpu (before 1491).
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6. Tracing melodies about Shun playing Southern Breezes on a five string qin
This theme, related earlier in 南薰歌 Nan Xun Ge, occurs again here with the name 南風歌 Nan Feng Ge, and will be found later in 南風暢 Nan Feng Chang. Zha Fuxi's Guide has three separate entries tracing each of these three titles. Melodically the division is more complex, as can be seen from this listing.

  1. 南薰歌 Nan Xun Ge: 11/113/189 (not 南熏歌; tracing chart)
    Six handbooks (does not include Nan Xun Cao); the first two are related :

    The other four are instead related to the 1511 Nan Feng Ge and so are here listed under that title, next.

  2. 南風歌 Nan Feng Ge: Guide 12/125/235
    Zha Fuxi's Guide 12/125/235 lists the melody in handbooks dated 1511, 1539, 1709 (南風操, Japan), 1745 and 1840. Of these, 1539 (QQJC II/161) is identical; the others seem unrelated. Instead, the four just mentioned called Nan Xun Ge are all related settings of the
    present lyrics and so should be included here. These six are thus:

    Additional entries called Nanfeng Ge are in these handbooks:

  3. 南風暢 Nan Feng Chang: Zha Guide 18/176/--, but see also 22/196/384 (虞舜思親 Yu Shun Si Qin)
    Zha Guide seems to confuse these two titles, which need to be split as follows:

    1. 南風暢 Nan Feng Chang
      The first melody with this title, in 1525, uses standard tuning, five strings, and has a new melody seemingly found only here. It has seven sections, with lyrics ("南風之薰兮....財兮") only in the fourth section.
    2. 虞舜思親 Yu Shun Si Qin later called 南風暢 Nan Feng Chang
      Nine handbooks for this melody. However, the first version, in 1525, is called 虞舜思親 Yu Shun Si Qin. Zha Guide has this only in 1525, apparently not noticing it is the same as eight of the nine melodies called Nanfeng Chang.

      Yu Shun Si Qin and these other eight all use 復古 fugu mode, a five-string version of huangzhong (raised fifth, lowered third strings: 1 3 5 6 1). Unlike with most of the Nan Xun Ge and Nanfeng Ge above, only Yu Shun Si Qin has lyrics and these are only in its Section 5, where they are the same as those of 1511 Si Qin Cao (陟彼歷山兮....), not Nanfeng Ge. Its afterword is also similar to that of Si Qin Cao; the prefaces to all the others connect more to Nan Feng Ge, though there is sometimes some ambivalence, as in 1546.

      The nine occurrences of versions of this melody are thus:

      The great similarity of these nine suggests that this particular melody may have always been learned from tablature as a kind of study rather than played actively.

I have reconstructed and recorded the earliest examples of #1 (1491) and #2 (1511), but have not done os with any of #3.
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8. Five Ancients Play (五老彈 Wu Lao Tan)
In the lyrics "wu lao" could suggest light shining down from the five "ancients", i.e., planets. However, the addition of "彈 tan" suggests there was the sound of music from a plucked string instrument, in those days most likely a qin. The title "Wu Lao Tan" is included in some old lists; commentary included in the first melody list from 1590 suggests this might originally have been a name for the first song included here (i.e., "A1+A2+A3" below). The commentary there begins and ends,

《古今樂錄》曰:舜彈五絃琴,歌曰:反彼西山兮,商嶽嵯峨。....凱風自南兮,喟其憎歎。故有五老彈。

Note "西山 xi shan" (eastern mountains) instead of 三山 san shan (three mountains). At the end, after "sigh with increasing admiration" (憎 should be a misprint for 增) it says, As a result we have Wu Lao Tan.
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9. Yuefu Shiji original passage The original passage in Yuefu Shiji (p.824) is as follows.

Records of the Grand Historian, Music Annal, says, "Shun...sang the lyrics of Southern Breezes...and so the world was orderly.... (full text here).
史記,樂書,曰﹕舜...歌南風...而天下治....南風...者,生長之音也,舜樂好之,樂與天地同,意得萬國之歡心,故天下治

Note that one character was changed (驩 to 歡) and one punctuation is changed from Shi Ji, Chapter 24. Zhonghua Shuju, p.1235, as copied with Nan Xun Ge.
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10. Quotes of Nan Feng Ge lyrics
Besides Kongzi Jiayu, the 琴史 Qin Shi biography of Emperor Shun, after telling the story of his creating this melody, quotes the second poem.
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11. Shi Ji on Music
Shi Ji, Chapter 24. Not yet translated.
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12. "Ascend" (陟彼 zhi bi) vs. "return to" (反彼 Fan bi)
Comment 1 after the Nanfeng Ge in YFSJ seems to quote "琴操 Qin Cao" as having two pieces called "反彼三山 Fan bi san shan", but Cai Yong's Qin Cao has neither this title nor a Nan Feng or Nan Xun title, and the contents of other lists called "Qin Cao" are not known. In addition, all other qin settings of these lyrics seem to use zhi bi. Could there be confusion with the 陟彼 Zhi bi.... in #2, Siqin Cao?
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13. Confucius and the taste of meat
Analects 7.14 says (translation by D.C. Lau),

子在齊聞韶,三月不知肉味。曰:「不圖為樂之至於斯也!」
The Master heard the Shao (music) in Qi and for three months did not notice the taste of the meat he ate. He said, "I never dreamt the joys of music could reach such heights."

A translation of the Shi Ji biography of Confucius (Chapter 47) can be found in chapter 1 of Yang, Records of the Historian (Hong Kong, Commercial Press, 1974).
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14. Original Chinese preface

按史,舜旣即位,廣開視聽,求賢人以自輔,恭己無爲,以聲樂化天下。其樂曰韶,子謂韶,盡美矣,又盡善也。書曰,簫韶九成,鳯凰來儀是矣。此曲乃其五弦所彈者,而後人擬而繹之,然觀所言有黃龍兮,自出于河,負書圖兮委蛇羅沙。其文古矣。因詳著之。

Translation above is tentative.
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15. Original lyrics
The original lyrics of 南風歌 Nan Feng Ge in Taigu Yiyin are given above. Note that the last two lines are also used as lyrics for section 4 of the 南風暢 Nan Feng Chang of 1525.
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16. Music: Comparing Section 2 to Section 1
In my original interpretation the differences in the tablature for Section 2 led to some differences in note values/rhythms. Later I reinterpreted the note values so that both sections have the same rhythm.
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