Confucius Learns to Play the Qixianqin*

PureInsight | June 23, 2007

[] Confucius was
a great politician, thinker, and educator during the Spring and Autumn
Period.  He liked to sing and compose and also played quite a few
musical instruments. One time, he tried to learn how to play the
qixianqin from musician Xiangzi of the Kingdom of Lu.

After Xiangzi taught Confucius a new song, he wanted Confucius to
practice for ten days before learning a new song.  After ten days,
Confucius still played the old song very diligently. Xiangzi reminded
him, "You have practiced well enough and it's time to learn a new

Confucius said, "No, not good enough, I have just learned the rhythm and the music, but I need to master the techniques!"

A few days later, Xiangzi said, "You techniques are quite good and it's time to learn a new song."

Comfucius Said, "No, I have not learned the contents of this song yet.
So, I have not really learned it." Confucius started to practice very
diligently again.

Many days passed, Xiangzi reminded Confucius again, "It's time to learn
a new song. You know the rhythm, the contents, and the techniques well

Confucius shook his head and said, "No, I have not learned it well
enough yet, because I have not understood the character of the

 Xiangzi thought what Confucius said was very reasonable and he waited patiently.

Many days later, when Confucius was diligently playing the qixianqin
one day, he suddenly raised his head with his eyes sparkling and said
excitedly, "Well, I understand the character of the composer!  The
composer is tall, with a tan face, and sparkling eyes.  He is also
a person with nobile blood. This song was written by Wenwang of the
Zhou Kingdom. No one other than him could have written a song as good
as this!"

Xiangzi was astonished and suddenly remembered, "Well, I am glad you
said that. I had almost forgotten. Yes, a long time ago, my teacher
told me that the name of this song is "Wenwang Parade" and the composer
was Emperor Wenwang of Zhou.

Xiangzi admired Confucius tremendously and bowed to him with respect.

*The qixianqin is one of the oldest of ancient China's musical
instruments. It is one of the earliest seven-stringed fretless Chinese

Translated from:

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