No other tree conjures up as much literary imagination as the Chinese Parasol Tree (Firmiana simplex). According to tradition, it is only the Firmiana that the phoenix chooses to alight upon. The autumn season is closely associated with this tree, whose broad leaves turn to gold and drop, supposedly one leaf each day. Its lightweight yet strong lumber is used for guqin construction. The literary connection is found in many poems and paintings that stir up one’s imagination. In olden times, the Firmiana provides shade for scholars’ studies.
Well, I haven’t seen any Firmiana trees growing around here. The closest setting is in a tranquil garden with a gentle breeze, shaded by willow trees and a stand of bamboo.
Firmiana Leaves Dance in the Autumn Breeze 梧葉舞秋風 was first published in 1664. The up and down slides, along with the octave jumps, are supposed to evoke sweeps of cool breeze and leaves dancing. While the original tablature does not specify tempo or rhythm, the rather lively rendition played here is after the interpretation by Wu Jinglüe 吳景略.