Fengxuan Xuanpin
 T of C 
Qin as
Qin in
/ Song
Analysis History Ideo-
Personal email me search me
Handbook List   FXXP ToC / Additional commentary 首頁
Fengxuan Xuanpin
Profound Airs Spread Like the Wind 1
  Fengxuan Xuanpin: Burning incense and playing the qin2   
This handbook has 101 melodies, 34 with lyrics,
3 67 without. It was compiled by 朱厚爝 Zhu Houjiao, (Prince of the) Hui Region, central Henan province.4 Zhu's preface mentions his collecting his melodies from various schools. For further information see:

So far I have reconstructed (made recordings and trancriptions) of all eight of the Fengxuan Xuanpin melodies that do not survive from earlier handbooks, plus seven originally thought to be the earliest surviving versions5 as follows:

There is also further information on the 1539 version of the other four melodies earlier thought to survive first from here. All have lyrics, but (or therefore) for each of these, although I have written out transcriptions, the melodies I actually learned to play are the 1525 versions, which do not.9

Mention should also be made of two further new melodies not yet transcribed or otherwise reconstructed. Both are songs with previous settings of the same lyrics and having the same title:

For the qin songs in particular, although I have written out transcriptions and made recordings for many of them, I will not consider the rhythms finalized until I have played them with a singer.10

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Profound Airs Spread Like the Wind (風宣玄品 Fengxuan Xuanpin [or Feng Xuan Xuan Pin]) Explanation of suoling in 1539 (compare earlier?)      
44734.148 風宣 Fengxuan: spread like the wind; 玄品 xuanpin: 21288.xxx

Joseph Lam, Imperial Agency in Ming Music Culture, in Culture, Courtiers, and Competition: The Ming Court (1368–1644), Harvard University Press, 2008, p.276, translates this title as Classical and Civilizing Qin Music. He refers to a footnote in which he explains "civilizing" as 雅樂 yayue, there defined as "civilizing music" or "state sacifical music", depending on the context. Perhaps he explains his translation of the handbook title more clearly in another of his writings.

In addition, on p. 299 Prof. Lam says that Fengxuan Xuanpin has, "154 annotated pictograms of performance techniques...the earliest known examples of their kind...." Here Prof. Lam seems to have included in his count the images of ancient qins; from my count the handbook has 33 sets of annotated pictograms, each consisting of two images as at right: one shows the hand in movement, the other a poetic representations of the same. My translation of the image at right is with the one in what is generally said to be the earliest such collection, dated to the Song dynasty but surviving only in copies published during the Ming. One of these is said to have been edited by Zhu Quan.

From his belief that this is the earliest handbook with such images Prof. Lam goes on to state that this work

"represented a significant change: the complex performance techniques not only indicate advances in qin composition and techniques but also suggest an increased number of literati qin players, amateur musicians who needed explicit guides.

This may be a correct interpretation of the significance of the images, but perhaps it should be dated back to the beginning of the Ming.

2. Burning incense and playing the qin
Does this image, from Fengxuan Xuanpin Folio One, p. 23 (QQJC III/19) depict Zhu Houjiao himself? His students? As for the use of incense this is discussed further here.

3. "Qin songs" reconstructed from 1539
Some of the melodies with lyrics are clearly songs, others seem to be instrumental pieces to which lyrics have been added. Regarding those that I have so far reconstructed, all could arguably have been sung; for those that did not seem to be singable I generally went to other handbooks to find ones without lyrics.

4. Prince of the Hui Region
For this region of central Henan province see further. Zhu Houjue is one of several princes to have published qinhandbooks.

5. Melodies learned from Fengxuan Xuanpin
By "learned" I mean completed my dapu (reconstruction), including working out my interpretation of the notes and note values, writing this out as transcriptions into staff notation, learning to play them from memory, then recording them. See recordings.

6. Sung melodies reconstructed from 1539
Of the 34 melodies in Fengxuan Xuanpin with lyrics, six are the earliest versions of these melodies and five others were originally thought to be the earliest. Although I have transcribed into staff notation and recorded all eleven of these sung melodies, I will not be satisfied with the note values until I have been able to perform them with a singer.

7. Instrumental melodies reconstructed from 1539
Of the 67 melodies in Fengxuan Xuanpin with lyrics, two are the earliest versions of these melodies and six others were originally thought to be the earliest. Those I have reconstructed (and recorded) comprise both of the former, five of the latter, pls two further melodies.

8. Ten melodies earlier thought to survive first from 1539
Of the four not reconstructed all have lyrics, but mostly seem to be melodies that were not really intended to be sung.

9. 1539 versions with lyrics
At present the transcriptions of Yi Qiao Jin Lü and Li Ling Si Han are only handwritten, not in my computer program (Encore).

10. See comment above.

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