Qiu Feng Ci 秋風詞
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Autumn Theme   1511 Gu Qiu Feng   1676 秋風辭 Qiu Feng Ci  / unrelated: 1525 秋風 Qiu Feng 聽錄音 hear 1709 & 1840 recordings  /首頁
Autumn Wind Melody (and Lyrics) 秋風曲、秋風詞 1
- with standard, raised fifth and lowered third string tunings2 Qiu Feng Qu (1709) + Qiu Feng Ci (1840 & 1931)
  Earliest versions: 1709 and 18403   (compare 1931)      
This page concerns the background of a popular qin melody called Autumn Wind Lyrics: 秋風詞 Qiu Feng Ci. This background is quite complex, beginning with the fact that there have been over time many qin melodies with an autumn theme, including a number of short songs on autumn winds, almost all of them in a shang mode;4 indeed many such songs serve as shang modal preludes.5 The ancient collection of lyrics called Yuefu Shiji includes a number of such shang-related lyrics on autumn themes; there is a list and some further discussion of these under Gu Qiu Feng (1511).6

The autumn wind melody called Qiu Feng Ci commonly played today is said to be a Meian School piece. Its earliest publication as such seems to be in the 1931 Meian Qinpu and there are many available recordings interpreting this version.7 There may be claims that it came from the Meian predecessor called the Zhucheng school, but this title does not seem to be in any of the handbooks typically associated with this Zhucheng school. Its actual origins are thus not readily clear.

In fact, though, the earliest surviving version of this melody is one in a handbook dated 1709, Yifengyuan Qinpu.8 Called Qiu Feng Qu, it is the first half of a two part piece called Lyrics of Disconsolation (悵悵辭 Changchang Ci);9 the other half of Changchang Ci is one of the old versions of the Melody of Mutual Love (Xiangsi Qu).10 The 1709 Qiu Feng Qu adds a harmonic coda, but is otherwise almost identical to the modern Mei'an version; the fact that accompanying Xiangsi Qu is quite similar to versions of this title that date back to 1573 perhaps suggests a similar earlier date for the Qiu Feng Qu melody.

Interestingly, and also somewhat unusually, the lyrics of 1709 next appear in 1840 (using the title Qiu Feng Ci) with a very closely related melody but using a different tuning; this is the version in Huaiyin Shuwu Qinpu.11 My recording, linked with the commentary below, shows that this 1840 version is instantly recognizable as related to the modern vesion, but with quite a different modal feeling.12

Looking only at the tablatures it seems that all of these versions of Qiu Feng Ci arrange the music as one section. By looking at the lyrics, though, one can see that there are actually two sections (i.e., verses).

Although the Qiu Feng Ci of 1709, 1840 and 1931 are all quite similar, there are three differences that should be pointed out: 1709 adds the character 也 ye twice in the third line of its lyrics; the 1709 and 1840 versions each adds a coda with different music for the same lyrics; most significantly, though, the 1840 version uses a different tuning, giving it a different modality.

All three versions, in fact, use a different tuning, but only the tuning difference of the 1840 version leads to significant modal differences. The tunings of the three versions are as follows (more detail below):

Autumn Wind Melody (秋風曲 Qiu Feng Qu) from Yifengyuan Qinpu (1709; QQJC XIII/514)
The tablature is generally straightforward. Issues I have noted include the following (compare 1840):

1709 Commentary14 (compare 1840):

A comment at the beginning of the 1709 version says,

This is an autumn winds melody; it describes feelings of longing that come from being separate in life.

In contrast, at the beginning of the second section (a version of Xiangsi Qu) it says,

"此古相思曲,寫泉下之相思也 "
This is an old piece of longing, it describes feelings of longing beside a spring.

There is also an afterword, but it says virtually nothing about the Qiu Feng melody. It begins in a somewhat confusing manner, as follows:

As for Changchang Ci, the former verse can be seen in extensions of the Song poet's verses (seeming to refer to non-canonical poems attributed to Su Dongpo, thus connected in fact to the second verse); the latter verse can be seen in Taigu Yiyin, which makes best sense as a reference to the lines from Xiang Fei Yuan included with the first verse (whether from 1511 or 1609).

It then continues by telling the Su Dongpo story commonly associated with the second melody, as follows:

云蘇東坡遊瓊州,有妓妾善琴者,染疾而亡,寄葬於于瓊州弘福寺牆側。後州守遊駐寺中,夜半聞女子哽咽悲歌。 詢僧眾,俻悉當年之情事,憐而傷之,遂錄其歌,銜衍入琴譜焉。’”

This account is very similar to ones with Xiangsi Qu (compare 1511 Xiangsi Qu).

Music and Lyrics of the 1709 秋風曲 Qiu Feng Qu (Autumn Wind Melody)
看五線譜 Transcription; timings follow 我的錄音 my recording [also see this video]; compare 1840;
      Lyrics of first three lines from Li Bai):

Start: 00.00
秋   風   清,       秋   月   明。       (1709 & 1840: 秋風秋風秋風情,秋月明。)
Qiū fēng qīng,     qiū yuè míng.        (1709 & 1840: Qiū fēng qiū fēng qiū fēng qīng, qiū yuè míng.)
Autumn winds fresh, autumn moon bright.

落   葉   聚   還   散,   寒   鴉   樓   復   驚。
Luò yè jù hái sàn,          hán yā lóu fù jīng.
Falling leaves collect then scatter, cold ravens roost then flutter.

相   親   相   見   (也)   知   何   日!     此   時   此   夜   (也)   難   為   情。
Xiāng qīn xiāng jiàn (yě) zhī hé rì!         cǐ   shí   cǐ   yè   (yě)   nán wéi qíng.           (1931: no added "也 yě")
Lovers will see each other who knows when!   Now, tonight, sorrow is what I feel.

(1931: Section 2) 00.36
入   我   相   思   門,   知   我   相   思   苦。
Rù wǒ xiāng sī mén,     zhī wǒ xiāng sī kǔ.
Enter the gate to my love, and learn the bitterness of my love.

長   相   思   兮   長   相   憶,       短   相   思   兮   無   盡   致。       (1511 and 1931 end with 極 )
Chǎng xiāng sī xī chǎng xiāng yì,   duǎn xiāng sī xī wú jǐn zhì.
Long loves have long memories, but brief loves last forever.

早   知   如   此   絆   人   心,             // 何   如   當   初   莫   相   識? (再作)//
Zǎo zhī rú cǐ bàn rén xīn,                     // hé rú dāng chū mò xiāng shí? //
Knowing early how this can fetter peoples' hearts,
          // would it not be better never to have become acquainted? (repeat phrase except in 1709 version) //.

泛尾 Closing harmonics (1709): 01.13
想   人   生   能   幾   何   哉。
Xiǎng rén shēng néng jǐ hé zāi.
It seems that in life it can be like this.

曲終 Melody ends: 01.30

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Autumn Wind Lyrics (秋風詞 Qiu Feng Ci) and Autumn Wind Melody (秋風曲 Qiu Feng Qu)
For 秋風辭 Qiu Feng Ci see separate entry. That melody uses 漢武帝秋風辭 Han Wudi Qiufeng Ci lyrics attributed to Han emperor Wudi, with 辭 ci translated as "ode" simply to distinguish it from 詞 ci, translated here as "lyrics"; there seems to be no actual intrinsic difference in meaning between 辭 and 詞. As for 秋風曲 Qiu Feng Qu being translated as "Autumn Wind Song", once again there does not seem to be anything gained by trying to analyze why the character 曲 qu is used.

Zha Guide indexes 秋風詞 Qiu Feng Ci as 43/--/--, including only the Mei'an entry and missing the two earlier ones, as follows:

ZWDCD references for the two Qiu Feng Ci are:
      25505.235 秋風辭 Qiu Feng Ci: 樂府,雜歌謠辭之名,漢武帝作.
      25505.xxx 秋風詞 Qiu Feng Ci.
See further on this and the melodies of this title in the footnotes to Gu Qiu Feng.

2. Tuning and mode: three versions, three tunings
As mentioned at top, almost all early qin melodies with autumn wind titles (or indeed an autumn theme) were created within what can be considered as shang mode. This seems to be true of the present melodies, though each of these three settings of the qiu feng lyrics has a different tuning, as follows:

The lowered third tuning for 1931 is puzzling: only one note is played on the third string (paired with the character 親 qin), and the same note could easily be played in standard tuning, so why bother changing the tuning? In both the 1709 and 1931 versions of the melody the main tonal center is do (gong, 1), the secondary tonal center is sol (zhi, 5) and re (shang, 2) is also an important secondary tonal center, with many phrases ending on re going down to do. This is characteristic of many of the shang mode melodies published during the Ming dynasty. (In the case of the 1931 version perhaps this is a coincidence, as I have never heard a modern analysis connecting the Meian autumn wind piece with the traditional modal attitudes, particularly with regard to the note shang.)

In contrast to lowering the third, raising the 5th string in 1840 does have a strong effect on the modality: many notes are played on the 5th string, including the open 5th string. Interestingly, though, in this tuning the melody can still be considered as shang mode, and by perhaps even more traditional criteria.

According to my analysis of modes as used during the Ming dynasty (q.v.), considering the 1709 and 1931 Qiu Feng Ci to be in shang mode follows a tradition that seems to date back to the Song dynasty (further comment); both versions follow the standard criteria for this, as just described above. The criteria that makes the 1840 Qiufeng Ci also considered as using shang mode also seems to date at least to the Song dynasty. Specifically, there is some evidence that during the Song dynasty qin melodies in shang mode may sometimes have had shang as their main note, especially melodies associated with the region of 楚 Chu. There is some discussion of this linked under qiliang diao, the only tuning in the Ming dynasty regularly to use shang as the primary tonal center.

The tuning for the 1840 Qiu Feng Ci (listen), though here called zhonglüdiao, is the same as ruibin tuning; ruibin, like qiliang, is a raised fifth string tuning, with melodies often having associations with Chu. Although most ruibin pieces I have studied have la as their main tonal center, it is a tuning that naturally emphasizes the note shang, as here, where shang is in fact the main tonal center: most phrases of the 1840 Qiu Feng Ci do end on the note shang. The problem is that the actual tablature names the last note of each phrase as though the tuning should be considered as 5 6 1 2 3 5 6 (according to what is written there, the open third to seventh strings seem to be considered as gong shang jue zhi yu, i.e., 1 2 3 5 6. In fact, however, no phrase ends on 3; in addition, this does not seem to allow for the raised fifth string tuning called for 5 6 1 2 4 5 6 (here transposed to 2 3 5 6 1 2 3). Hence, I do not understand the logic behind this naming of notes.

By my analysis the 1840 melody is almost completely pentatonic, the only notes outside of 1 2 3 5 6 being a slide up to 7 after "寒" (mistake for 1?) and a 4 on the third 知 (mistake for 3?). Of the 13 phrases (1 repeated), three end on 6 (a fifth up from 2), four end on 3, and 7 (including the last) end on 2.

In 1709 there are several non-pentatonic notes: one fa (on 兮) and two slides up to ti (one, on 清, from sol; one, on 相, from la). The 1931 Qiu Feng Ci is also mainly pentatonic, the only notes outside of 1 2 3 5 6 being some slides to 4.

The above analysis might be interpreted as suggesting that the creator(s) of the Qiu Feng Ci published in 1840 kept in mind both the traditional connection of shang mode melodies with autumn winds and a traditional understanding of shang mode, but that whoever revised the melody to create the Meian version was not aware of this connection. It also seems unlikely that the 1840 version actually predates that of 1709, but I do not know how one might further examine that possibility.

3. Image: Earliest versions: 1709 and 1840
Images above were copied from QQJC XIII/514, XXIII/347; the one from Meian Qinpu (1931), shown below, is from XXIX/203. All three of these can be considered "modern" in the sense that they seem to date later than "Old Autumn Wind" (Gu Qiu Feng), first surviving from 1511.

4. Tracing various qin melodies on the autumn wind theme
In addition to the information on this shang mode chart, see the information with the melodies listed here.

5. Relevant shang modal preludes
See further details. They are all quite similar to the ones in the 1511 Gu Qiu Feng, but there are also somewhat differing modal forms for surviving melodies categorized as being in shang mode.

6. Yuefu Shiji autumn wind lyrics
YFSJ has several such poems, including the one by Han Wudi discussed here. Others are listed here under Gu Qiu Feng.

7. Autumn Wind Lyrics (秋風詞 Qiu Feng Ci) from Meian Qinpu (1931) 1931 (transcription; compare 1709 & 1840)      
Two recordings from the 1950s following the score at right (transcription) but with quite different interpretations are by:
      王吉儒 Wang Jiru (sung; listen)
      徐曉英 Xu Xiaoying (listen);
      more recordings listed here (1) and here (5)
Today this "Meian School" version (originally from 梅庵琴譜 Meian Qinpu, QQJC XXIX/203) is very popular as a "beginner's melody". As can be seen above, its lyrics are almost the same as those of the Qiu Feng Ci published in both 1709 and 1840, as discussed above (also in the respective 1709 and 1840 footnotes). The discussion above goes into the differences between the versions, including how the melodies are clearly related even though they all use different tunings.

The earliest known occurrence of this melody directly connected to the Meian school seems to be its printing in the Mei An Qinpu of 1931: no information is given there about its origin, and it does not seem to be in any of the so-called standard proto-Meian handbooks. (On the other hand there is a very similar version in Qinxue Guanjian, a handbook containing a number of Meian pieces.) The 1959 edition of the Meian handbook does itself seem to suggest Qiu Feng Ci was intended as a beginners' melody.

Today few people sing the lyrics as they play the Mei'an melody but, in addition to the recording by Wang Jiru linked above, the Nimbus CD "Lin Youren: Music for the Qin Zither" also includes a recording by Prof. Lin where he plays the melody three times, singing the lyrics on the first and third playing.

In the 1931 Meian Qinpu there is no commentary, but the 1959 edition added the following afterword:

Lieberman, Zither Tutor, Chapter 5 (pp.68-70), discusses this melody and on p.69 has a partial translation of the 1959 commentary (full translation not yet available),

"....Many opportunities for matching open and stopped strings, a technique easy for the novice to understand....On a night of bright moon and fresh breeze, on can derive endless interest from playing this composition again and again."

YouTube recordings are easily found through an internet search. Regarding playing style, note that the 1840 version has no 綽 chuo (slide up into a note, written as 卜) or 注 zhu (slide down into a note, written as 氵). The 1931 version has them mostly in the first half. My teacher Sun Yuqin said not to overuse 綽 chuo in particular: it is a bad habit developed by beginners who find it much easier to slide into the correct position than to hit the note precisely in the first place.

8. Yifengyuan Qinpu (一峰園琴譜; 1709; XIII/489-529)
Compiled by 成皋郡禹祥年 Yu Xiangnian of Chenggao district (11820.153: in the southwest part of 氾水 Fanshui district, near Zhengzhou in Henan), it had 20 pieces, 10 with lyrics. The lyrics are said to have been from 金陵二楊 the two Yangs of Nanjing (? see 1585 and 1589-1609 but also 1611). In fact most of the melodies with lyrics seem to come from 1589-1609.

The 20 pieces are as follows (*=has lyrics):

  1. 歸去來辭 Gu Qu Lai Ci* (XIII/499; beginning is missing)
  2. 陋室銘 Lou Shi Ming* (XIII/501)
  3. 漁樵意 Yu Qiao Yi* ("執長斤,劈破崐崙...."; XIII/502)
  4. 秋聲賦 Qiu Sheng Fu* (= 1589; XIII/503)
  5. 平沙落雁 Ping Sha Luo Yan ("鄭正叔作 by Zheng Zhengshu"; XIII/506)
  6. 漁樵話 Yu Qiao Hua* ("問今古幾經蕉鹿....", as 1611; XIII/508)
  7. 閨怨操 Gui Yuan Cao* (XIII/511)
  8. 文鳳求凰 Wen Feng Qiu Huang* (XIII/512)
  9. 湘江怨 Xiang Jiang Yuan* (XIII/513; comment)
  10. 悵悵辭 Changchang Ci* (XIII/514)
  11. 良宵引 Liang Xiao Yin (XIII/516)
  12. 牧笛 Mu Di (XIII/517)
  13. 惜賢操 Xi Xian Cao* (5 sections; = Si Xian Cao; XIII/518)
  14. 秋江夜泊 Qiu Jiang Ye Bo (XIII/521)
  15. 高山 Gao Shan (XIII/522)
  16. 流水 Liu Shui (XIII/524)
  17. 鷗鷺忘機 Oulu Wang Ji (XIII/525)
  18. 雙鶴聽泉 Shuang He Ting Quan (XIII/526)
  19. 陽春 Yang Chun (XIII/527)
  20. 白雪 Bai Xue (XIII/528)

Zha's Guide did not index this 1709 handbook, suggesting it was not available until after the 1950s.

9. Lyrics of Disconsolation (悵悵辭 Changchang Ci)
11004.7 is only 悵悵 . This title, which appears only here, hides the fact that it actually consists of two different melodies, one of which had been previously published. The two are:

  1. Qiu Feng Qu: the earliest surviving version of what is today called Qiu Feng Ci (jpg)
  2. Xiang Si Qu: its lyrics were later used for the melody Gu Qin Yin (jpg).

This 1709 Qiu Feng Qu is very similar to the versions dated both 1840 and 1931; the only significant difference in the lyrics is that the third line of 1709 adds "也 " twice, as follows:

Xiāng qīn xiāng jiàn yě zhī hé rì, cǐ shí cǐ yè yě nán wéi qíng.

This version, unlike the later ones, does not call for a repeat of the last phrase, and the music of its coda has the same lyrics but different music from 1840 (1931 does not have a coda).

For Xiangsi Qu see also next footnote.

10. (Old) Melody of Mutual Love (古相思曲 Gu Xiangsi Qu)
Without punctuation it is not possible to be sure that "古 old" was not in fact part of the title, or that mentioning was not to contrast this version from another one.

11. Huaiyin Shuwu Qinpu (槐蔭書屋琴譜; 1840) Page 1, with preface and melody list (pdf version)      
QQJC XXIII/iii says this "Qin Handbook from the Book Room in the Shade of the China Scholar Tree" (15678.52xxx), with eight melodies, was a hand-copied volume compiled by 王藩 Wang Fan (21295.xxx). The modern commentary (originally by Zha Fuxi) names the eight melodies, but has little other information about the handbook. As far as I can tell the attribution to Wang Fan comes from a seal with his name at the end of the preface (XXIII/341, top; see at right).

A list of melodies after Wang Fan's preface includes fifteen titles, apparantly suggesting a complete version would include at least seven or eight further melodies. The order is not the same as in the content as printed, but in the hand copied tablature each piece begins on a separate folio page, so the order could have been changed. In addition this list seems to omit Canghai Longyin, unless that melody is the same as the Long Yin from the full list - see below. Note that where each melody on the list has the number of sections indicated that melody also has tablature, but Long Yin Pu does not mention section numbers.

This is the full list from XXIII/341 (bottom; see at right), with the number of sections shown as indicated in the list. The seven for which there is no tablature are so indicated ("no pu"):

  1. 秋風詞 Qiu Feng Ci, 1 section (only melody here with lyrics and the only one to name some notes)

  2. 風雷譜 Feng Lei Pu, 10 (Feng Lei; 3rd and 4th sections seem to be written together; related to earlier versions, not the one in Meian Qinpu)

  3. 高山譜 Gao Shan Pu, 6 (Gao Shan)

  4. 流水譜 Liu Shui Pu, 8 (Liu Shui)

    滄海龍吟 Cang Hai Long Yin, 7 (has pu but is not in ToC)

  5. 塞上鴻 Sai Shang Hong, "7" (but no pu)

  6. 平沙譜 Ping Sha Pu, 3 (Pingsha Luo Yan "4 sections", but only 3; no particular connection to 1931)

  7. 水雲譜 Shui Yun Pu (no pu; Xiao Shang Shui Yun?)

  8. 南風歌 Nan Feng Ge, 1 (pu has only two lines)

  9. 漁樵譜 Yu Qiao Pu (no pu)

  10. 龍吟譜 Long Yin Pu (no pu; = Cang Hai Long Yin?)

  11. 風入松 Feng Ru Song (no pu)

  12. 石上泉 Shi Shang Quan (Shishang Liu Quan?; no pu)

  13. 鴈呌譜(呌=叫: 鴈叫、雁叫) Yan Jiao Pu (no pu; title not on any lists)

  14. 良宵引 Liang Xiao Yin (no pu)

  15. 越裳操 Yueshang Cao, 1 (pu has only 13 notes)

Other than Qiu Feng Ci, there seems to be no further connection to the later Meian Qinpu melodies.

12. Autumn Wind Lyrics (秋風詞 Qiu Feng Ci) from Huaiyin Shuwu Qinpu (1840; QQJC XXIII/347)
Compare 1709: the tablature here is also generally straightforward. It is the first melody in the handbook and the only one with lyrics. Issues I have noted include the following:

These same issues seem also to appear in other pieces in this handbook.

The lyrics are discussed further below, while the modal implications of a raised 5th string tuning are further mentioned above. As yet I have not seen any further studies one these topics.

Afterword to the 1840 秋風詞 Qiu Feng Ci (compare 1709)

With tablature there is no greater and lesser: just draw out the tasteful old-fashioned sounds; the melody has no beautiful or ugly, just draw out the profound elegance of its resonance. As for this short piece, the tablature is common and the melody plain, yet it causes people to bring forth the most ancient characteristics in their hearts. (Translation tentative.)

Music and Lyrics of the 1840 秋風詞 Qiu Feng Ci (Autumn Wind Lyrics)
transcription; timings follow 我的錄音 my recording; compare 1709)12
Main tonal center is re (shang). Textual differences between the 1840 and 1931 versions are indicated here; specifically, 1840 repeats the opening "qiu feng" twice and adds a coda in harmonics. (Translation here is from Fred Lieberman, A Chinese Zither Tutor, pp. 70 - 71.)

Start: 00.00
秋   風   清,       秋   月   明。       (1840: 秋風秋風秋風情,秋月明。)
Qiū fēng qīng,     qiū yuè míng.        (1840: Qiū fēng qiū fēng qiū fēng qīng, qiū yuè míng.)
Fresh autumn breeze, bright autumn moon.

落   葉   聚   還   散,   寒   鴉   棲   復   驚。
Luò yè jù hái sàn,          hán yā qī fù jīng.
Falling leaves collect and scatter, winter ravens roost then flutter.

相   親   相   見   知   何   日,   此   時   此   夜   難   為   情。
Xiāng qīn xiāng jiàn zhī hé rì,   cǐ shí cǐ yè nán wéi qíng.
When, my love, will we meet again? Now, tonight, I feel only sorrow.

(1931: Section 2) 00.41
入   我   相   思   門,   知   我   相   思   苦。
Rù wǒ xiāng sī mén,     zhī wǒ xiāng sī kǔ.
Just enter my love's gate, you'll know my lovesickness.

長   相   思   兮   長   相   憶,       短   相   思   兮   無   盡   致。
Chǎng xiāng sī xī chǎng xiāng yì,   duǎn xiāng sī xī wú jǐn zhì.
Long loves are long in memory, but brief loves go on forever.

早   知   如   此   絆   人   心,             // 何   如   當   初   莫   相   識。 (再作)//
Zǎo zhī rú cǐ bàn rén xīn,                     // hé rú dāng chū mò xiāng shí. //
Had I known hearts thus are fettered,   // perhaps we never would have met (repeat phrase) //.

泛尾 Closing harmonics (1840): 01.28
想   人   生   能   幾   何   哉。
Xiǎng rén shēng néng jǐ hé zāi.
It seems that in life it can be like this.

曲終 Melody ends: 01.49

Compare 1709.

13. 湘妃怨 Xiang Fei Yuan
Interestingly, the 1709 悵悵辭 Changchang Ci with Qiu Feng Qu as its first section is preceded by a version of Xiang Fei Yuan called 湘江怨 Xiang Jiang Yuan (the modern title). This Xiang Jiang Yuan, though musically similar to earlier Xiang Fei Yuan, ends just prior to "入我相思門....", i.e., it omits precisely those three phrases it borrowed for use as lyrics in its next piece, Qiu Feng Qu.

Xiang Fei Yuan and Xiang Jiang Yuan use standard tuning but its three borrowed phrases use only the fourth to seventh strings, so the melody of 1931 with its lowered third string tuning is not affected; the raised fifth string tuning of 1840, however, leads to the significant modal differences discussed further above.

14. 1709 Commentary and Music
This version uses lyrics that are almost the same as those of the later versions. The Mei'an melody is also clearly related to this earlier one, in spite of the tuning difference. I have not yet seen any studies that discuss this relationship.

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