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Commentary on Fengxuan Xuanpin
Profound Airs Spread Like the Wind 1

Fengxuan Xuanpin, compiled by Ming prince Zhu Houjiao, has 101 melodies, the second largest number in any surviving Ming dynasty handbook, after Xilutang Qintong. 34 have lyrics. Most of the melodies here were apparently collected from earlier sources. In many cases it seems clear that the tablature was copied from either Shen Qi Mi Pu (SQMP) or Taigu Yiyin (TGYY).2 For the rest there seems to be no obvious way to determine whether the tablature was newly written down, transcribing an actual performance, or copied from an earlier individual tablature or handbook no longer surviving. None of the melodies has any commentary.

Fengxuan Xuanpin has its melodies organized by mode. However, unlike a number of other early Ming handbooks, it does not pair short melodies with longer ones on the same theme.

Here are some statistics on the 101 melodies in Fengxuan Xuanpin.

So far I have learned 16 melodies according to their versions in Fengxuan Xuanpin,4 nine without lyrics,5 seven with lyrics.6

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Profound Airs Spread Like the Wind (風宣玄品 Fengxuan Xuanpin)
44734.148 Fengxuan Spread like the wind

2. Sources
Since the compiler of SQMP says he copied most of all of his music from earlier sources, one must consider the possibility that in some cases FXXP was copying from the earlier sources rather than SQMP itself. The origins of the tablature in TGYY is less clear.

3. Melodies from Fengxuan Xuanpin that are the earliest version
When I began reconstructing melodies it was generally accepted that Xilutang Qintong was originally published in 1549. Only later did I discover that it must actually have been published in 1525. By then I had learned or worked on several melodies from Fengxuan Xuanpin thinking they were the earliest versions.These include:

  1. Yang Chun
  2. Xuechuang Ye Hua (lyrics; 2nd of 7)
  3. Feng Lei Yin

This list is not complete.

4. 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.

5. Melodies without lyrics: 9
This is all of the 7 originally thought to have their earliest versions here, plus two reconstructed for comparison with earlier related versions.

6. Melodies with lyrics: 7
This is 6 of the melodies with their earliest version here plus 1 with lyrics erroneously thought to have had its earliest versions here.

There is further data in the footnotes here. In addition, my preliminary studies indicate the following:

The four melodies with lyrics in 1539 that I have not reconstructed (#2, #3 and #20) all appear as purely instrumental melodies in numerous later handbooks; and the only other occurence of #60 is as an instrumental melody. Thus, all four seem to be basically instrumental melodies with lyrics, and I have not yet been able to work out singable versions. The most obvious difficulty is as follows. Qin songs in general are very word intensive, with one syllable for each right hand stroke and one for some left hand techniques. The above melodies, especially the first three, also have syllables assigned to each stop in most slides and to each note of glissandi (gun fu).

The other four titles, #31, #32, #33 and #40, each having one section, are more obviously songs.

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