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Qinxue Xinsheng Xiepu
Qin Studies Heartfelt Sounds Harmonious Tablature
琴學心聲諧譜 1
A chart from Qinxue Xinsheng Xiepu2 (complete .pdf)    
Qinxue Xinsheng, originally published in 1664, has the music of Zhuang Zhenfeng of Nanjing (金陵). The handbook has 2 folios in all, with 14 melodies, eight having lyrics. All but the Buddhist chant Shitan Zhang are said to have been Zhuang's own compositions, appearing here for the first time. The source of whatever other melodies he may have played and perhaps taught is not known.

Based on commentary in the handbook from local literati, some of whom were themselves poets and painters of note, Zhuang was quite well-known and highly regarded in his day. But in spite of this, only one of his handbook's 14 melodies became widely played later, this being the still-popular (or perhaps again-popular) Wuye Wu Qiufeng.

Overall the handbook is remarkable for quite a number of reasons, including the following:

Melodies I play (have reconstructed) from this handbook include:

Of particular interest for its use of ci forms:

For further information see the Table of Contents as well as the entry on Zhuang Zhenfeng


Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Qinxue Xinsheng Xiepu (1664; XII.1)
2 folios; by 金陵莊臻鳳) Zhuang Zhenfeng of Nanjing. In addition to being a teacher of Shin-Etsu he had connections to Cheng Xiong

(There is no handbook called 琴學新聲.)

2. Image
Copied from QQJC XII/21

3. Praise for Zhuang Zhenfeng
In his own time Zhuang sought attention in terms of "古 gu" (antiquity): recognition that his attitude and his qin play reflected the ethics and aesthetics of antiquity. This is shown by the following passage, copied from Wu Zeyuan, 2015, pp.89-91:

A record in Zhuang Zhenfeng’s handbook can help us understand how Zhuang and his acquaintances built a collective understanding of gu. As mentioned, after Zhuang had composed twelve pieces of qin music, he sought out different influential figures to write prefaces and lyrics for his compositions. In the preface to his composition named "Sheng and Cranes in the Clouds" (Yunzhong sheng he 雲中笙鶴), Hu Dan 胡亶 (fl. 1649-1665) recounts the exchange between Zhuang and himself on whether a qin composition should have lyrics or not. When Zhuang presented his musical compositions to Hu and asked him to write lyrics for "Sheng and Cranes in the Clouds," Hu refused at first, stating that ancient qin music did not have lyrics. His examples were "High Mountain and Flowing Water" (gaoshan liushui 高山流水) and "On the King Wen" (Wenwang cao 文王操). Zhuang explained that since many current qin players did not know the ancient way of qin-learning, they needed lyrics to help them understand the ancient meaning of qin music until they could truly comprehend it. Finding Zhuang’s explanation persuasive, Hu Dan agreed to listen to Zhuang play his song, and eventually he wrote lyrics for it.

We do not know whether ancient pieces of qin music had lyrics or not, but those were of little importance in the musiking between Zhuang and Hu. As long as they reached an understanding, their bond had been formed and even strengthened. As a language for communication in musiking, gu was not meant for seeing the "truth" per se; rather, it functioned to build consensus among the participants in a social network, and in that way, reinstated or reinforced the bond among them. Qin players and their audience could continue their bond only when they shared a similar understanding and admiration of gu.

The question of whether qin melodies should or should not include lyrics is also mentioned here. What is said above suggests that Zhuang thought that lyrics could enhance a song even it they were not sung, or even intended to be sung.

But further regarding lyrics, amidst Zhuang's variety of songs such as those mentioned above are rather romantic songs such are in the Li Yun Chun Si set. In Hangzhou there is only mention of his elegant meetings with gentlemen friends (especially by or on West Lake). But he also lived in Nanjing, and it would be interesting to know what if any connection Zhuang may have had in Nanjing with the Qinhuai entertainment area. Did he have women friends there who would sing his songs?

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