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01. Song of Southern Winds
- Standard tuning:2 5 6 1 2 3 (uses only 1st five strings)
Nan Feng Ge
|Shun plays Nan Feng Ge at Jiuyi Shan 3|
As with the second song, Si Qin Cao, Nan Feng Cao uses only five strings for the melody, thereby honoring the tradition of "Emperor Shun playing a five string qin and singing the lyrics of Southern Winds", after which the world was well-regulated (see below). The fame of this story led to debate on such matters as to whether it was the correct playing of the melody that led to the world being at peace, or whether this was due to the fact that Shun was simply playing music, without concern for the result of his action.4
There has been some confusion between "Nan Feng" (translated here as "Southern Winds") and "Nan Xun" (translated here as "Southern Breezes").5 Thus, although the Nan Xun Ge of ca. 1491 is clearly a different melody from the present Nan Feng Ge as well as from the nearly identical setting of these lyrics published in Fengxuan Xuanpin (1539), at least four melodically related later versions with the same lyrics as these Nan Feng Ge instead use the title Nan Xun Ge. In addition, other melodies on the southern winds/breezes theme, whether with different lyrics or no lyrics, also generally made the same connection as here with Shun and his five-string qin. Likewise, almost all versions limit themselves to the use of five strings.6
As mentioned, the present lyrics are said to have originated as the lyrics for two separate songs. In this regard, although some old melody lists include a song called Five Ancients Play (Wu Lao Tan), said to have the same theme as a Nan Xun Ge with the present lyrics (examples), another source suggests Five Ancients Play had only the first part of the lyrics.8 This latter interpretation is also in accord with the text in the Yuefu Shiji, which also arranges the lyrics as two separate poems (distinguished in the translation below as A and B).9 The lyrics of B can also be found in Kongzi Jiayu and elsewhere.10
Nevertheless, there is no evidence to suggest that at that time these surviving versions were particularly ancient song settings. Indeed, as with other melodies in this book, there is at present no reliable way to know the actual age of the music.
Shun played a five-string qin, and sang the lyrics of Southern Winds.
Shun sang Southern Winds and the world was well-regulated....
The lyrics in Taigu Yiyin begin "ascend" (陟彼 zhi bi), otherwise they are identical to those in YFSJ, which begins "return" (反彼 fan bi).12
The preface in Taigu Yiyin specifies that the instrument on which emperor Yu Shun played this piece was a five string qin. The Shao music to which it refers is also often attributed to Shun. A related ritual dance is said to have been performed throughout the Zhou dynasty. It is recorded in the Shi Ji biography of Confucius and elsewhere that after he heard this music performed in the state of Qi he was so overwhelmed that for three months he did not know the taste of meat.13
Lyrics15 and Music16: Two sections (聽錄音 Listen with 看五線譜 staff notation )
As mentioned, YFSJ divided these lyrics into 二首 two pieces (here marked A and B; see numbers in brackets for further subdivision). These two pieces (A+B) are played here first in harmonics, then repeated in a second section consisting mostly of stopped sounds. In both verses the setting follows the syllabic structure of the two poems in accordance with the standard pairing method. The possible exception to this is the two places, at the beginning of A1 and of A3 in both section, where the tablature calls for a phrase to be repeated without indicating whether the accompanying verse should be repeated. In my interpretation I include the lyrics only during the repeat at A1 and during the first playing of A3. In addition, at A3 the music pattern changes because of the repeat of the first phrase. Here the musical structure seems to divide the first two lines of A3 as 按圖觀讖兮，按圖觀讖兮。 then 閔天嗟嗟；擊石負韶兮，淪幽洞微。
1. (All harmonics)
Tian jiang Wu Lao xi, ying wo lai ge.
From heaven descends (the music/light of) the Five Ancients, welcoming me with song.
A2. ([4+4] x 2)
You huang long xi, zi chu yu he,
There is a Yellow (river) dragon coming out from the river,
fu shu tu xi, wei yi luo sha.
Carrying cosmological diagrams easily through the loose sand.
A3. ([5+4]) x 4)
B. ([5+8] x 2)
An tu guan chen xi, // . Min tian jie jie,
A cosmological diagram provides guidance, // . A respectful heaven calls out in appreciation,
Ji shi fu Shao xi, lun you dong wei.
Beating on stones sustains the Shao music, plunging into the profound to penetrate the esoteric.
Niao shou qiang qiang xi, feng huang lai yi,
Birds and wild animals hurry along; while a male and female phoenix come in ceremonial greeting.
Kai feng zi nan xi, kui qi zeng tan.
Triumphal winds from the south, sigh with increasing admiration.
Nan feng zhi xun xi, ke yi jie wu min zhi yun xi,
Southern winds' balm can be used to resolve my people's irritations.
Nan feng zhi shi xi, ke yi fu wu min zhi cai xi.
Southern winds' timeliness can be used to multipy my people's resources.
B. ([5+8] x 2)
2. (As Section 1, but stopped sounds except for final phrase)
- the melody is mostly very similar, but towards the end some phrases are quite different in both melody and tonality.15
Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)
Nan Feng Ge 南風歌
(compare 南薰歌 Nan Xun Ge.)
This page on the Chinese website www.wjszx.com.cn explains some terms used here. The website includes the text of quite a few poems in the Yuefu Shiji but mostly without explanation.
2798.340 南風 gives a long introduction to nan feng and quotes numerous sources. 2798.340/2/i says 南風 Nan feng is 古詩名 the name of an old poem by Yu Shun; in it he praises his parents (earliest reference 禮記 Li Ji). 2798.340/2/ii says it is a song praising peace under heaven. There are then numerous references to this story. Other references cited include 爾雅 Er Ya, 後漢書 Hou Han Shu, 梁簡文帝 Emperor Jianwen of Liang, 孫逖 Sun Ti (8th c.), 禮記，樂記 Annals of Music in the Book of Rites, 尸子，綽子 Shizi: Chuozi (by 尸佼 Shi Jiao of the Warring States period), 孔子家語 Kongzi Jiayu, and 樂府詩集 Yuefu Shiji and 琴操 Qin Cao. YFSJ quotes the lyrics as here, citing "Qin Cao".
|Other references:||書圖 Luo Shu & He Tu|
None of these references explains the title "Nan Feng". Perhaps that was too obvious to someone living in the cold north.
Tuning and Mode
Taigu Yiyin does not directly name the tuning or mode but the relative tuning seems to be 5 6 1 2 3 5 6. The melodically related Nan Feng Ge in Fengxuan Xuanpin seems to include this piece under shang mode, but its modal characteristics (see under Shenpin Shang Yi) are not like those of other Ming melodies in shang mode (for which the tuning is usually considered to be 1 2 4 5 6 1 2). The Nan Xun Ge of 1585 is in zhi mode, which seems more appropriate (though still 1 2 4 5 6 1 2). For information about modes in general see Modality in Early Ming Qin Tablature.
Shun plays the qin
This is a photograph of a statue at the 舜帝陵景區 Emperor Shun Memorial Scenic Area in 永州 Yongzhou, 九嶷山 Jiuyi Mountains, Hunan Province (near the Guangdong border; see Emperor Shun and photo source).
南風 Southern winds vs. 南薰 southern breezes
This distinction between 風 and 薰 is somewhat arbitrary, as the context clearly suggests that the southern winds are also felt to be balmy. In addition, "xun" itself doesn't specifically refer to winds, instead having such meanings as "balmy" and "fragrant". Some further distinctions can be found with the commentary on Song of Southern Breezes (Nan Xun Ge), a musically unconnected but thematically related melody in Zheyin Shizi Qinpu (before 1491).
Tracing melodies about Shun playing Southern Breezes on a
five string qin
This theme, related earlier in 南薰歌 Nan Xun Ge, occurs again here with the name 南風歌 Nan Feng Ge, and will be found later in 南風暢 Nan Feng Chang. Zha Fuxi's Guide has three separate entries tracing each of these three titles. Melodically the division is more complex, as can be seen from this listing.
The other four are instead related to the 1511 Nan Feng Ge and so are here listed under that title, next.
Additional Nanfeng Ge entries are in these handbooks (the first two from Japan):
- see transcription and recording
1898 (XII/263); this 大原止郎本 Ohara edition version is called 南風操 Nan Xun Cao and is in 商音 shang yin, but it is otherwise identical to previous
Zha Guide seems to confuse these two titles. Their relationship is discussed further here.
I have reconstructed and recorded the earliest examples of #1 (1491) and #2 (1511), but have not yet done so with any of #3.
Five Ancients Play (五老彈 Wu Lao Tan)
In the lyrics "wu lao" could suggest light shining down from the five "ancients", i.e., planets. However, the addition of "彈 tan" suggests there was the sound of music from a plucked string instrument, in those days most likely a qin. The title "Wu Lao Tan" is included in some old lists; commentary included in the first melody list from 1590 suggests this might originally have been a name for the first song included here (i.e., "A1+A2+A3" below). The commentary there begins and ends,
Note "西山 xi shan" (eastern mountains) instead of 三山 san shan (three mountains). At the end, after "sigh with increasing admiration" (憎 should be a misprint for 增) it says, As a result we have Wu Lao Tan.
9. Yuefu Shiji original passage The original passage in Yuefu Shiji (p.824) is as follows.
"Ascend" (陟彼 zhi bi) vs. "return to" (反彼 Fan bi)
Comment 1 after the Nanfeng Ge in YFSJ seems to quote "琴操 Qin Cao" as having two pieces called "反彼三山 Fan bi san shan", but Cai Yong's Qin Cao has neither this title nor a Nan Feng or Nan Xun title, and the contents of other lists called "Qin Cao" are not known. In addition, all other qin settings of these lyrics seem to use zhi bi. Could there be confusion with the 陟彼 Zhi bi.... in #2, Siqin Cao?
Confucius and the taste of meat
Analects 7.14 says (translation by D.C. Lau),
A translation of the Shi Ji biography of Confucius (Chapter 47) can be found in chapter 1 of Yang, Records of the Historian (Hong Kong, Commercial Press, 1974).
Original Chinese preface
The original lyrics of 南風歌 Nan Feng Ge in Taigu Yiyin are given above. Note that the last two lines are also used as lyrics for section 4 of the 南風暢 Nan Feng Chang of 1525.
Music: Comparing Section 2 to Section 1
In my original interpretation the differences in the tablature for Section 2 led to some differences in note values/rhythms. Later I reinterpreted the note values so that both sections have the same rhythm.