Qin Shi Chubian 5b3  
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Chapter Five: Sui and Tang dynasties 1
Xu Jian, Introductory History of the Qin, pp.69-70 2
Part Two (Qin melodies) :

3. Fenglei Yin 3

Wuzhizhai Qinpu (1722) records that "the melody of Feng Lei comes from a long time ago." This says only that it has a long history, but "long ago" does not really make clear from what period it actually comes. Moreover, Lü Hua (1833) goes further by stating that "it was written by a person of the Tang dynasty who was longing for the past". So did this melody exist in the Tang dynasty? It did, as is proven by a poem. The early Tang dynasty poet Shen Quanqi (650-715) described it, in (his poem) Thunderbolt Prelude (Pili Yin; see the complete text and translation; included in the qin melody section of Yuefu Shiji) as follows:

It was like a thousand flags waving, five branches of soldiers activated;
      the slashing of mystical serpents, and the slaying of long leviathans.
The veritable
Guangling (melody) it rivaled in scope;
      as for Departing Cranes it was of the same class.

This asserts that this melody is comparable to Guangling San in its powerful, majestic vigor and is as spectacular as Bie He Cao. Pili Yin has such expressive force that it should not have been lost in history. (And indeed) the Fenglei Yin of later generations seems to be another name for Pili Yin.

An explanation for Pili Yin can be found in Qin Cao, which states that Chu Shang Liang "was wandering along the 九皋之澤 marshes of Jiugao"4 when a thunderstorm struck. He returned in fear and wrote this melody."5 Lacking knowledge in the natural sciences and subsequently failing to understand the natural phenomenon of thunder, people from ancient times thought that the sky was angry and wanted to punish people, thereby deriving a sense of awe toward the sky. Yet in Shen Quanqi's Tang dynasty poem, Pili Yin was a melody that raised morale. He wrote in his poem that,

It caused our heroic souls to stir,
        (and) resolute men's hair to stand on end.
Look down on the Hu nomads as trifles,
        Cut through the Jie barbarians as if harvesting.
How could these simply be strong feelings at a party?
        They encompass for all pleasures the most harmonious practices.

According to his poem, this melody leads one to bristle with anger and ride indestructibly; it cannot be seen as music for common entertainment. As people in the Tang era possessed a new understanding of this piece, it is natural that they would give it a different name.6

People often describe swift and violent changes as "fenglei (wind and thunder)". A phrase from Chairman Mao's poem "Wind and thunder at once arise from the earth" compared revolution to wind and thunder. Although Fenglei Yin does not express this idea, it nevertheless is original and different. Wuzhizhai Qinpu points out that

"the sound and rhythm of this melody is performed with strength without a break and continues until the end, differing from the style of other melodies."

Xiaolan Qinpu (1812), too, maintains that "its rhythm is arduous and abrupt, severe and rugged; it is not a common melody." This musical style is rare among qin melodies as it radically differs from the normal elegant and simple or delicate and beauteous styles. For example, at the conclusion of each section, to reinforce its vigor, it often uses 重拍的双音 accented diads and 上行跳进 ascending leaps, thus creating such musical forms:

(Staff notation example not yet online9)

Or, as Wuzhizhai Qinpu asserted, "it resembles the shadows of thunder or the rise of the wind." This was specifically reflected in the third and fifth sections in the following tune:

(Staff notation example not yet online10)


Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. See footnote to the preface for details of the period covered (589 - 979).

2. Initial translation by 金秋雨 Jin Qiuyu

3. Version of Fenglei Yin analyzed by Xu Jian
As discussed in my own introduction to Fenglei Yin, related versions of this melody can be found in 39 handbooks from 1525 to 1910 (Zha's Guide 16/164/--). The version Xu Jian discusses, published in 1722, is the 21st of these, and it seems quite different from the earliest surviving versions (see discussion of the earliest four). I have not seen a transcription of the 1722 version. Other than my own transcription of the 1539 version, the earliest I have found is the one in Guqin Quji, pp. 82-6, based on Guan Pinghu's reconstruction from 1802 (see XVII/334; this is unrelated to the version recorded in his favourite qin pieces, which is from Mei'an Qinpu). That version, in 10 sections, seems quite similar to the one 1722 version discussed by Xu Jian, but it is very different from the four early versions mentioned above. (See some specifics below).

4. For jiugao ("nine marshbanks") see under He Ming Jiugao.

5. See Qin Fu, p. 744. The explanation there is actually quite a bit longer

6. It is not clear to me whether Xu Jian is suggesting that Fenglei Yin was an older name for the melody, or whether when the melody was made from the Pili Yin lyrics the name was changed to Fenglei Yin. Both of these would be very speculative, as is the whole notion that there is a melodic connection between the surviving melodies and a Tang dynasty melody, whether it was called Pili Yin or Fenglei Yin.

9. This first example is a repeated pattern at the end of each section; the earliest four (see above have no such structure.

10. This second example features runs that are very different from those in the earliest four.

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