Mei Hua San Nong
(3 Variations on the Plum Blossom)

Mei-Hua-San-Nong made its earliest appearance in the handbook Shen Qi Mi Pu(preface dated 1425). Also called Mei-Hua-Yin or Yu-Fei-Yin . It was originally a flute piece composed by Huan Yi who lived during the Eastern Jin dynasty ( 317-420). As the story goes, Huan Yi played this tune for Wang Huizhi , who was the son of the great callgrapher Wang Xizhi (307-365), when they happened to meet on the road. During the Tang dynasty (618-907), Yan Shigu rearranged it as a piece for the guqin.

According to the handbook Po Ya Xing Fa (preface dated 1609) by the Ming musician Yang Lun , there is the description that the "plum blossom is the purist and clearest flower, and qin has the purist and clearest sound. Using the clearest sound to indicate the purist subject is appropriate because qin has the very beautiful tone resembling cool frost.."

The Plum blossom can withstand rigorous winter and still blooms and dances in the wind. Its whiteness and fragrance are delicate and beautiful. Because of blossom's elegant, fresh and quiet nobility, it is used to describe those who have a noble personality. .

This piece employs the three basic techniques for producing sound while playing the guqin : San yin, fan yin and an yin. San Yin is a free sound where the left hand does not touch the strings while the right hand plucks or strums the string. Fan Yin is the harmonic when the left hand lightly touches the strings while the right hand plucks or strums the string. An Yin is the sound produced when the left hand stops down the string at the indicated positions while the right hand plucks or strums. Mei Hua San Nong is so called, because the one melody is repeated in three different variations of harmonics in three different postions on the instrument.

In the Shen Qi Mi Pu, the piece has ten parts bearing the following subtitles: (translations from R.H.Van Gulik [died 1967] in his Lore of the Chinese Lute )

1, Evening moon over the mountains.
2, First variation: Calling the moon. The tones penetrate into the wide mist.
3, Second variation: Entering the clouds. The tones penetrate into the clouds.
4, The Blue Bird calls the soul.
5, Third variation: Trying to pass the Heng river. The tones imitate a long-drawn sign.
6, Tones of a jade flute.
7, Plaques of jade hit by a cool breeze.
8, Tones of an iron flute.
9, Plum blossoms dancing in the wind.
10, Infinite longing.

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