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28. Song of Wind Through the Pines
- Shang mode:2 1 2 4 5 6 1 2
風入松歌 1
Feng Ru Song Ge
Trees in the Book of Songs: the pine 3      
"Wind through the Pines" (or "Wind in the Pines") is a phrase often found in Chinese poetry. Pines are tall and upright, and the sound of wind in the pines is beautiful. Numerous poems use the phrase "wind in the pines" to suggest this theme.4 And it is perhaps for this reason that the melody of this name is often connected with Xi Kang (223-262). Xi Kang was an upright person who refused to be corrupted by the ill winds of his day. He was a famous musician, but his connection with any melody called Wind in the Pines is probably more symbolic than historical.

Taigu Yiyin (1511), quoting Qin Ji, says the melody was created by Xi Kang, but it does not identify the source of the lyrics it uses. The lyrics are in fact included in Yuefu Shiji, Folio 60, #7 (qin melodies), where they precede but have no apparent connection to various Autumn Wind (Qiu Feng) lyrics.5 Somewhat confusingly, under the title Feng Ru Song Ge in Yuefu Shiji is an attribution to the Tang dynasty Monk Jiaoran6 (730-799). But in the next line, just before the actual lyrics, is a copy of the same attribution to Xi Kang from Qin Ji.

The Song dynasty monk Ju Yue includes Feng Ru Song in his list of Most Ancient Melodies.7 However, he attributes the melody to Yongming Zhou.8 This should be the Yongmen Zhou said to have been a good qin player in the state of Qi during the Warring States period; his qin melodies saddened Lord Mengchang.9

The only melody mentioned in biography of Xi Kang in Zhu Changwen's Qin History is the famous Guangling San, which Xi Kang is said to have played at his execution.

In this version of Feng Ru Song Ge, the lines of the lyrics that say the player "takes his qin and his playing forms a song" could suggest improvisation. Flowing Waves10 and Ruined Mounds11 are the titles of two ancient melodies with possible connection to the famous qin player Bo Ya. Another qin reference, "plays clear tones", in the original Chinese mentions a particular note, zhi, which happens to be the note played on that word. In a later passage the qin is called by one of its characteristics, golden studs. Qin tablature refers to these studs, often made of mother of pearl, when describing in what position to play a note.

The title is found in at least ten surviving handbooks, but the only one musically related to the present version is the one in Fengxuan Xuanpin (1539).12 Settings of the ci structure called Feng Ru Song are discussed on a separate page.

There is also a tradition that says that with the sound of wind in the pines there is in fact no need to play the qin. (See a fan painting expressing this idea).

Original preface13

According to the Qin Collection (Qin Ji), "Feng Ru Song" was created by Xi Kang of the Jin period. Kang was a man apart from society who was very good at music; he put forth many sorts of string compositions arranged for lyrics. The clear sounds he attained were indeed very valuable gifts.

Music and Lyrics: One section 14
Three recordings are linked here (with timings; 看五線譜 see also my transcription.):
    01.39 for mp3 here (聽錄音 Listen, or listen while viewing transcription)
    01.46 for (begins with 00.12 of harmonics from end)
    02.36 for 看視頻 this video (played twice, once solo qin, once qin with voice.
The poem has a largely syllabic setting following the structure of the lyrics ([7+7] x 7, except as noted.

Xī lǐng sōng shēng luò rì qiū, qiān zhī wàn yè fēng liú liú.
In the Western mountains the pines have sounds in the setting sun of autumn,
        1,000 branches and 10,000 leaves in the wind sough.

Měi rén yuán qín nòng chéng qǔ, xiě dé sōng jiān shēng duàn xù.
A wonderful person takes his qin and his playing forms a song,
        creating amongst the pines sounds both brief and long.

Shēng duàn xù, qīng wǒ hún, liú bō huài líng ān zú lùn.
Sounds brief and long clear my spirit; (3+3)
        one need only mention (such melodies as) Flowing Waves and Ruined Mounds.

美人夜坐月明裏,含少商兮點清徵。       (點⇢照?)
Měi rén yè zuò yuè míng lǐ, hán shǎo shāng xī diǎn qīng zhǐ.
The wonderful person at night sits under the bright moon,
        with little discourse plays clear tones.

風何凄兮飄飉,攪寒松兮又夜起。       (凄⇢清?)
Fēng hé qī xī piāo liáo, jiǎo hán sōng xī yòu yè qǐ.
The breeze: how cool; whirling and fluttering,
        stirring up the cool pine trees, and night arrives.

Yè wèi yāng, qū hé cháng, jīn huī gèng cù shēng yāng yāng.
At night before midnight the tune is so long, (3+3)
        (moving on the) qin top in an even greater hurry as the sound becomes agitated.

何人此時不得意,意苦絃悲聞客堂?       (苦⇢若?)
Hé rén cǐ shí bù dé yì, yì kǔ xián bēi wén kè táng?
What person at this time would not be thoughtful,
        with such bitter feelings and sad notes heard in the guest hall?

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Song of Wind in the Pines (風入松歌 Feng Ru Song Ge)
For "pine" by itself, 14897 松 gives as one reference 詩,小雅,斯干 Book of Songs #189 The Beck (mountain stream; see Waley). For the Book of Songs illustration above see below.

For Feng Ru Song 44734.7 風入松 says it is a Yuefu melody by Xi Kang. It is also the name of a a 曲牌 qupai and a 詞牌 cipai, as follows:

There are many English language references to the song "Wind in the Pines". One reason for this is discussed in the next footnote. The phrase is also used outside the context of this song, as in the line "autumn wind through the pines" from Li Bai's poem "In Praise of Qin".

Meanwhile, the expression 松濤 songtao (literally "billowing pines") has a similar meaning to "wind in the pines". Both have been used as metaphors for nature's music. For an example of songtao used in a qin song see Myriad Gullies and Billowing Pines: 萬壑松濤 Wanhuo Songtao.

Myriad Gullies and Billowing Pines (萬壑松濤 Wanhuo Songtao)
This qin melody, which has no musical connection to the Song of Wind in the Pines (above), survives in handbooks dated 1670, 1739, and 1876; it is of uncertain origin ("written by a 賢 sage"). 25455.628 has only 萬壑 but it connects this with trees in a poem by 杜甫 Du Fu that refers to 萬壑樹聲 myriad gullies and the sound of trees. For 松濤 songtao 14898.257 gives as its earliest reference the poem 慢題詩 by 歐陽原功 Ouyang Yuangong (歐陽玄 Ouyang Xuan 1283-1357).

2. Tuning and mode
Taigu Yiyin does not arrange melodies by mode, but shang mode is used for later versions.

3. The Pine
The pine illustration above, from the Revised illustrations of Plants and Animals in the Mao [edition of the Book of] Poems, refers to Shi Jing #59 Bamboo Rod (竹竿 Zhu Gan), which has the line 檜楫松舟 Oars of juniper, boat of pine-wood (Legge: Oars of cedar and boats of pine);

See also a fan painting with an inscription that begins, "Wind in the pines and a babbling brook are nature's melody. A qin was brought along, but there is no need to play it.

4. Significance of poems Wind in the Pines
A good discussion of the significance of Wind in the Pines is in Alfreda Murck, The Subtle Art of Dissent, pp. 163-177. After discussing a poem by Du Fu, the qin melody called Feng Ru Song, and (p. 165) Han Yu's Preface to Seeing off Meng Jiao, it focuses on a poem called Wind in the Pines Hall (松風閣 Song Feng Ge; see p.168) by 黃庭堅 Huang Tingjian, comparing it with Du Fu's poem 秋日夔府詠懷 Autumn Day in Kui Prefecture (p.279).

5. See Yuefu Shiji, p.876.

6. Monk Jiaoran (僧皎然)
Monk Jiaoran was the Buddhist name of Xie Zhou (謝晝). See Nienhauser, Indiana Companion to Traditional Chinese Literature, pp.270-2.

7. For the title list of Seng Ju Yue (僧居月) see Tong Kin-Woon's Qin Fu (琴府), p.1695.

8. 雍明周 Yongming Zhou
Seng has Yongming Zhou, but there seems to be no other reference to this name. It must be a mistake for Yongmen Zhou (42916.24 雍門周).

9. 孟嘗君 Lord Mengchang (7107.267)
See footnote under Yongmen Zhou.

10. Flowing Waves (流波 Liu Bo)
17762.84 and VI.1263 give 流水 flowing streams as one definition, but there are no musical references. On the other hand the Jieshidiao Youlan manuscript lists Liu Bo, not Liu Shui, as the title of a melody.

11. Ruined Mounds (壞陵 Huai ling)
5709.xxx, but 2/1241: one of the melodies in Cai Yong's list of 12 Qin Cao; attributed to Bo Ya. It is also written 懷陵. This is discussed elsewhere.

12. Tracing Feng Ru Song (tracing chart)
The chart below is based mainly on Zha Fuxi's Guide 14/148/253.

13. Preface
Chinese original is:


Translation above.

14. The original lyrics (above) are [7+7]x 7 except for 2 lines. Also note three changes in 1511 text to make it conform to 全唐詩 Quan Tang Shi version):

4. 含少商兮照清徵。(全唐詩﹕點清徵)
5. 風何凄兮飄飉,(全唐詩﹕風何凄清何飄飉)
8. 意苦絃悲聞客堂?(太古﹕意若)

There may be other variants as well.

Appendix: Chart Tracing 風入松(歌) Feng Ru Song (Ge)
Based mainly on Zha Fuxi's Guide
All but the first are called only Feng Ru Song

    (year; QQJC Vol/page)
Further information
(QQJC = 琴曲集成 Qinqu Jicheng; QF = 琴府 Qin Fu)
  1. 謝琳太古遺音
      (1511; I/307)
1; Feng Ru Song Ge; lyrics attributed to Jiao Ran; present version;
Later versions do not repeat "聲斷續"
  2. 風宣玄品
      (1539; II/161)
1; Feng Ru Song; no commentary;
Music and lyrics same as 1511 (except 苦⇢若)
    . 琴譜正傳
      (1561; II/468)
No music: has only the Jiao Ran lyrics (not in 1546)
(A few inconsistencies in the lyrics)
  3. 新刊正文對音捷要
      (1573; E161; #26)
1; has same page layout as 1585
but melody is gradually somewhat different
  4. 重修真傳琴譜
      (1585; IV/381)
1; same lyrics as 1511 but different melody;
New preface (1573 has somewhat different wording), but still says "Xi Kang 'Feng Ru Song Ge'"
  5. 理性元雅
      (1618; VIII/315)
1; same lyrics as 1511, different melody (5-string qin)
Preface same as 1585
  6. 古音正宗
      (1634; IX/304)
8 sections, shang yin; no lyrics, new melody unrelated to others
No commentary
  7. 友聲社琴譜
      (early Qing; XI/186)
8; huangzhong shangdiao; similar to 1634
No commentary  
  8. 臣奔堂琴譜
      (1663/5; XI/80)
8; same as previous
  9. 琴苑新傳全編
      (1670; XI/491)
5; shang mode; another new version?
Comment: "按《琴賦》云:晉嵇康作。其人狂曠高放。逹於音樂,清響條暢,爲世所珍。" and "簡古峻厲,如讀商頌。"
10a. 松聲操
      (~1687; XII/401)
1; 商音,雙壽 shang mode;
The 詞 lyrics, by 盧士登時渭 Deng Shiwei, are given here
10b. 松聲操
      (~1687; XII/402)
1; 羽音,雙壽 yu mode;
the 詞 ci lyrics, by 徐亭有齋 Xu Ting (You Zhai?), are given here.
11. 琴譜諧聲
      (1820; XX/127)
1; "角商 shangjiao" (preface explains why); gongche;
same lyrics as 1511 (except 飄飉->飄飉飉) but new music; lengthy afterword (www.qinzhijie.com)

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