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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 is the first song in Taigu Yiyin (1511). As with the second song, Siqin Cao, it 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" (see below). A nearly identical version was published in Fengxuan Xuanpin (1539), and there are at least three related later versions with these lyrics. In addition, other melodies on this theme, whether with different lyrics or no lyrics, generally made this connection, and almost all limit themselves to five strings.4 However, it seems quite likely that these pieces were not particularly ancient and, as with other melodies in this book, there is at present no reliable way to know the actual age of the music.

There is further information on this with the musically unconnected but thematically related melody in Zheyin Shizi Qinpu (before 1491), there called Song of Southern Breezes (Nan Xun Ge).5

The lyrics for the version in Taigu Yiyin can be found in the Yuefu Shiji, which quotes two sources on the origins of the melody:

  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,6 says,

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

The lyrics in Taigu Yiyin are identical to those in YFSJ, those the latter includes the lyrics as two separate poems (arranged in the translation below as A and B). The lyrics of B can also be found in Kongzi Jiayu and elsewhere.7

The preface in Taigu Yiyin specifies that the instrument emperor Yu Shun played it on was a five string qin. The Shao or Xiaoshao music to which it refers is often attributed to Shun. A related ritual dance was performed throughout the Zhou dynasty. Sima Qian's biography of Confucius reports 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.8

Original preface9 (translation not completed)

According to history, when Shun ascended to the throne he broad open look and listen. 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 alone out of the river; carrying books and documents easily in the sifted sand." This is ancient writing, and so judging from this I have written it down.

Music and Lyrics: Two sections10 (聽錄音 Listen )
- Setting follows the syllabic structure (see numbers in brackets) of the two poems (A and B)

1. (All harmonics)

A1. ([5+4] x 2; the tablature says to play the first line twice)
Fan bi san shan xi, shang yue cuo e.
Returning to those Three Mountains,         the Shang peaks reveal rocky outlines.

Tian jiang wu lao xi, ying wo lai ge.
Heaven descends to the Five Ancient Peaks,         welcoming me to come and sing.

A2. ([4+4] x 2)
You huang long xi, zi chu yu he,
There is a yellow dragon         coming alone from the river,

fu shu tu xi, wei tuo luo sha.
Carrying books and documents         easily in the sifted sand.

A3. ([5+4]) x 4)
An tu guan chen xi, .....; min tian jie jie,
According to the pattern seek the portent,         mourn heaven's sighs.

Ji shi fu shao xi, lun you dong wei.
beat on stone to sustain the Shao music,         lapping by hidden cave small.

Niao shou qiang qiang xi, feng huang lai yi,
Birds and wild animals hurry along;         male and female phoenix come for the ceremonies.

Kai feng zi nan xi, kui qi zeng tan.
Balmy breezes from the south,         heavily breathe increased sighs.

B.   ([5+8] x 2)

Nan feng zhi xun xi, ke yi jie wu min zhi yun xi,
Southern breezes' vapor         can be used to resolve my people's irritations.

Nan feng zhi shi xi, ke yi fu wu min zhi cai xi.
Southern breezes' timeliness         can be used to make abundant my people's wealth.

2. (As Section 1, but stopped sounds except for final phrase)
- the melody is very similar but ornaments suggest some different rhythms

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a
separate page)

1. Nan Feng Ge 南風歌
2798.340 Nan Feng gives numerous references to this story. Zha Fuxi's index 12/125/235 lists the melody in handbooks dated 1511, 1539, 1709 (Japan), 1745 and 1840. 1539 (see II p.161) is identical; the others seem unrelated.

2. Taigu Yiyin does not indicate mode. The melodically related Nan Feng Ge Fengxuan Xuanpin seems to include it under shang mode, but its modal characteristics are not like other Ming melodies in shang mode (its 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.

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).

4. Tracing melodies about Shun playing Southern Breezes on a five string qin
This theme, related earlier in 南熏歌 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. 南熏歌 Nan Xun Ge: 11/113/189 (tracing chart)
    Six handbooks (does not include Nanxun Cao); the first two are related :

    The other four are instead related to the 1511 Nan Feng Ge (see next)

  2. 南風歌 Nan Feng Ge: Guide 12/125/235
    Two entries with this title plus the four just mentioned called Nanxun Ge are all related settings of the lyrics
    here. These six are thus:

    Additional entries called Nanfeng Ge are in these handbooks:

  3. 南風暢 Nan Feng Chang: 18/176/--
    Nine handbooks. The first melody with this title, in
    1525 (standard tuning, five strings, new melody), is unrelated to all others. However, 1525 does have a melody related to the below called 虞舜思親 Yu Shun Si Qin (Zha Guide 22/196/384 does not seem to notice this).

    Yu Shun Si Qin and the others others 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 Nanxun 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.

    The nine occurrences of versions of this melody are thus:

    The great similarity of these versions suggests that Nanfeng Chang 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 not of #3.

5. Related melodies
See previous footnote for a list of later melodies on this theme. Except for 1511, all melodies using these lyrics begin with 反彼 Fan bi..., not 陟彼 Zhi bi....; Yuefu Shiji also has Fan bi. 1511 perhaps confused its lyrics with #2, Siqin Cao.

6. 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.... (Translation not completed).

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.

7. Quotes of Nan Feng Ge lyrics
Besides Kongzi Jiayu, the 琴史 Qin Shi biography of Emperor Shun, after telling the story of his composing this melody, quotes the second poem.

8. Shi Ji biography of Confucius
Shi Ji, Chapter 47. Translated in chapter 1 of Yang, Records of the Historian (Hong Kong, Commercial Press, 1974).

9. Original Chinese preface
Not yet online.

10. Original lyrics
The original lyrics of 南風歌 Nan Feng Ge in Taigu Yiyin begin "陟彼 Zhi bi....". This has been changed here to "反彼 Fan bi...." in order to conform with those in Yuefu Shiji. With this one change, the complete lyrics here are as above.

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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