Zhuang Zhenfeng
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Zhuang Zhenfeng
- Qin Shi Xu #174 2
莊臻鳳 1
琴史續 #174

Zhuang Zhenfeng (ca. 1624 - after 1667), style name Die'an, was from Sanshan (modern Yangzhou). While still young he followed his father to Nanjing. Here apparently while in ill health the young man began his qin studies with a doctor from Changshu named Baiyun (White Cloud), who had specifically been brought to Nanjing to take care of him. Later Zhuang had another teacher from Changshu, this time the prominent master Xu Hong, one of the founders of the Yushan school.

It is not clear exactly when or how often Zhuang went to Hangzhou or whether he ever actually lived there, but it is said that he was particularly fond of West Lake and that in general he liked to go out into natural environments. Eventually he became a well-known qin master in Nanjing.4

Zhuang presumably played many standard Yushan school melodies, but nothing seems to be known of this.5 He also became known as a creator of new melodies, and the qin handbook associated with him, Qinxue Xinsheng (1664), consists of melodies he is often said to have created himself (except for its Shitan Zhang, a Buddhist chant). However, the attributions there suggest in some cases he might have been arranging rather than creating anew (further on this below. Of note here is that, although Yushan melodies rarely included lyrics, eight of the 14 melodies in his own handbook do have them. In addition, two people closely associated with Zhuang were also well-known for qin songs: his student Jiang Xingchou, who later went to Japan and became the monk Shin-Etsu,6 and the Min school player Cheng Xiong, whose Songfengge Qinpu emphasized qin songs. Details of the relationship between Zhuang and Cheng should be explored further, particular with regard to their settings for qin of ci songs.

Zhuang is also said to have been a skilled qin maker,7 but he is perhaps best known through his qin handbook Qinxue Xinsheng. Presumably Jiang Xingchou took a copy of it with him when he went to Japan, but it is not clear which of its melodies he may have played or taught.

Qinxue Xinsheng has two folios and an appended section, with 14 melodies in all, eight with lyrics. Only the third melody, the Buddhist chant Shitan Zhang, is known to exist in an earlier handbook. As mentioned, he is generally said to have "composed" (or created) the rest of the melodies, but from the way the pieces are attributed this is not completely clear.8

Only a few melodies attributed to Zhuang can still be found in later handbooks. These include:

Qin Xue Xinsheng includes an essay called 16 Qin Sound Methods of Diean (i.e., Zhuang Zhenfeng). Is this the original version of the Sixteen Rules for Qin Tones generally attributed to Leng Qian (ca. 1310 - ca. 1371)?

Zhuang Zhenfeng's entry in Qin Shi Xu (see original text 10)
Not yet translated; it gives as its source 思古堂集 Si Gu Tang Ji.

After saying Zhuang was from Yangzhou, it says he was a good qin player particularly friendly with and praised by Han Jiang, adding that he was good at selecting the right wood for making qins. The rest of the entry, beginning from "毛稚黃先舒為之序云" seems to be a quote from a preface by Mao Zhihuang, i.e., Mao Xianshu.

Regarding Mao's preface, I have not yet found it in the QQJC copy of Qinxue Xinsheng so this perhaps refers to a preface in the Si Gu Tang Ji, a book attributed to Mao himself. It seems to connect Zhuang and Han with Hangzhou, where Zhuang particularly enjoyed the scenery of West Lake.


Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Zhuang Zhenfeng references
莊臻鳳 Bio/611 and Zha Fuxi's preface (XII/p.I) say 字蝶菴 style name Die'an, from 三山(金陵) Sanshan (Nanjing), but 琴史續 Qinshi Xu #174 says he was "揚州人 a man of Yangzhou". Xu Jian (p.153), who gives his dates as ca. 1624 - after 1667, also says he was from Yangzhou, but that when he was young he followed his father to Nanjing. (Note that his near contemporary Zhang Dai also had the nickname Die'an.)

26 lines (Return)

4. Although one might assume his teaching took place in Nanjing, I have not seen direct mention of this. He also often visited Hangzhou.

5. Zhuang Zhenfeng's repertoire
There is some mention of him talking about the cost of buying tablature, but the details of this are not yet available.

6. Jiang Xingchou
He could have studied with Zhuang in either Nanjing or Hangzhou.

7. The Qinshi Xu biography says he was good at selecting wood for qins; this suggests he also either made them or supervised their making.

8. Zhuang Zhenfeng's role in creating the pieces in his handbook
Now outlined under the 1664 ToC.

10. Zhuang Zhenfeng in Qin Shi Xu
The entry begins (see complete .pdf),

莊臻鳳,字蝶庵,揚州人。善鼓琴。為韓畕所稱。賞能自擇良材斲之所著《琴學心聲》毛稚黃先舒為之序云: 琴者古人之心聲也。古樂壞矣....


Not yet translated. 26 lines. Its stated source/reference, 思古堂集 Si Gu Tang Ji, by Mao Xianshu, has a modern reprint. Online references say it is in Volume 210 of 四庫全書存目叢書: 集部思古堂集: 4卷, 首1卷, 毛先舒.

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