You are currently viewing Higher Level Wife – 191 – Selection

Higher Level Wife – 191 – Selection

Chapter 191: Selection

Author: White Pear Flower


Translated by Gumihou

Proofread by Pill Bug

Gumihou: Erm, I think the author doesn’t understand enough about music, stage performance, music notations or composing. Gumi consulted with Pill Bug and Meiyu on this chapter. Mostly noted with [6]

All the musicians fell under the USMiC protection.

Also, many thanks to reader Meiyu for helping me with the musical bits!

Fu Qiuning: Thank you Meiyu for preserving my reputation as a teacher of opera music


Transfixed by the scene, Fu Qiuning stood in place for a long time.

Behind her, the female official was becoming a little impatient. However, she knew that this person was the most favoured person within the palace at that time. Not to mention, this woman was the official wife of a marquis and not someone she could offend. In the end, she suppressed her thoughts and stood in place, waiting until Fu Qiuning was done staring at whatever it was she was staring at, before leading her across the bamboo bridge towards the Jade Lotus Pavilion.

Fu Qiuning looked at the group of women lining up before her and felt a little leap in her heart. She thought: Goodness, what a fine group of beauties. Tsk, tsk, tsk, now this is what the Seven Celestials should be like. Well, there are over 30 celestials standing in front of me now. Some of the ladies have the typical celestial-like looks, while others have a more androgynous, heroic handsome male character in men’s clothes. Looks like my Yue opera is now following the Huangmei style where all the characters are played by females. Who knows whether it has anything to do with the local custom or that someone believed that the Marchioness should not be exposed to men outside of the family? Regardless of the reason, looks like I won’t have the opportunity to see a real living handsome man in this place.

Well, there’s the husband, [1] but what’s the use of having a handsome face when the man is so rotten that he emits a sweet sickly smell that attracts fruit flies to feast on his flesh? Still, there is no point in thinking about it. Let’s focus on these women for now. Everyone here is a hard-working woman out to make a living with their bodies. With no men around to patronise them, maybe they can go far with the new opera.

With this time in mind, she smiled at the ladies and said, [2] “You are all the best in terms of looks. For today’s Huangmei, you will be chosen according to your singing ability. I shall sing two verses first. Whoever sings the best, I will train you for the opera. Understand?”

The 30-odd ladies all said, “Understand.”

Fu Qiuning cleared her throat and sang,

I ask the crescent moon in the sky,

Who could be compared to my Brother Niulang;

I ask the old maple tree by the fence;

Have you seen flowers like my Jiao’er;

I asked the clear singing brook…

The 30 or so female performers were so engrossed in memorising the words that they nearly forgot to properly experience just how beautiful the singing was. What a joke, if they could be chosen by the Marchioness to perform her Huangmei opera and shine during the All Nations Cultural Festival, just what kind of unimaginable rewards would they receive? [3] After all, no matter what kind of backing they had now, it was best to have something permanent. For women, the best way to secure a backing would be through marriage. So long as they have this success in their name and their skills were acknowledged by the imperial family, their future spouse and family would not dare to mistreat them.

Thus, it was with this sense of furious urgency that the performers memorised the [4a] words and melodies.

Fu Qiuning sang only once, and then had the girls sing the verses one after another. At first, she frowned. However, as the later girls sang, her eyes brightened. One after another, she selected the singers she felt were right for the opera.

Naturally, the ones chosen were excited, and the ones who were not chosen were saddened. Others were dissatisfied: After all, they were all gifted in looks and talent, so why were they not chosen? Was bribery involved? That can’t be, ah. Didn’t this woman just arrive at the palace? [5] Or, had the chosen ones bribed her earlier on? Come to think of it, this woman was the shu-born daughter of the Zhenjiang Heir. Moreover, the entire capital knew that she was neglected by her husband from the moment she was married and only just recently managed to somehow claw her way back into his favour. This kind of woman must be both cunning and greedy for base monetary compensation.

Once Fu Qiuning declared that the selection process had closed, one of the unchosen ones boldly stepped forward to say, “Please wait, Madam. Surely this selection is unfair?”

[6] Having expected this, Fu Qiuning raised her eyebrows and said, “In what way is it unfair?” she had already heard all kinds of declarations of ‘unfairness’ from the various children she had taught, and from the parents too. So, she was curious to hear what a professional performer, a grown woman at that, have to complain about.

The female officer who had escorted Fu Qiuning hastily stepped forward to scold the performer, but Fu Qiuning waved her away, “Let me hear it. I am interested to know.”

Feeling a little bold at Fu Qiuning’s words, the woman said in a serious voice, “Of the ten of us standing here, six of us had to sing first. Naturally, this is unfair. Because we sang first, the ones behind us got to hear the song one more time, therefore their performance sounded better. Isn’t this unfair? Isn’t giving them more time to listen to the song giving them an advantage?”

[6a] “… …”

[6a] Fu Qiuning was speechless. She thought: what is this broken logic? The ones in front sang first and were at a disadv`antage? The ones that sang later have an advantage? There are over 30 of you and only the very first one got to listen to me sing once. Six of you who ‘sang first’ got eliminated, so what? At the very least, one of the eliminated ones got to listen to the same song at least five times. What is this broken-headed shit?

[6a] The woman who had questioned Fu Qiuning lifted her chin a little more. Fu Qiuning could see the stubbornness in her and knew that this idiot probably didn’t even know what the heck she was talking about. With a sigh, she said, “Fine, you are saying that it is unfair that you are eliminated because you were made to ‘sing first’. What do you expect me to do for you? What is fair for you?”

[6a] “I- I should sing later…”

“Excellent, you there,” she picked out one of the chosen candidates and beckoned her over. “I shall sing two more lines of the song. She will sing first, and then you.” Without waiting for any more idiots to speak, she opened her mouth and sang,

The gentleman faces a flower, a flower,

A couple strolls down a paddy field

A fallen seed sprouted…

Then, she looked at the selected woman expectantly. A little flustered, the girl flushed and bit her lip for a moment before stiffening her spine and started singing. [6b] There were some omissions here and there, but the song was beautifully sung nevertheless.

Fu Qiuning nodded, “Good, now you.”

The protesting girl pursed her lips. Finally, she started singing. Partway through she stopped and flushed red. [6c] Fu Qiuning raised her eyebrow at her, letting the silence build. Finally, she said, “You have heard the previous song many times, would you like to sing it again to make sure that I am not biased?”


[6c] “It doesn’t matter how many times you hear a song. The range of a person’s voice is limited. While it can be trained, I don’t have the time to train anyone now. Therefore, I chose singers with the necessary voice range that I needed. Not to mention, I have no reason to pick someone who would fight with me every step of the way when the time before the Festival is limited.”


Finally, the performers that were not chosen withdrew. The female officer stepped forward to say flatteringly, “Since yesterday, word has spread within the palace about the Marchioness’ special play. I had not believed it at first, after all, how many songs that were described as celestial music eventually fell short when heard in person? Unexpectedly, my ears were blessed by Madam’s singing. I fear that even the celestials in the sky do not have the blessing to have such music in the heavens.”

Fu Qiuning coughed into her handkerchief at this over-the-top praise. Wow, ancient people sure know how to flatter. [1] Is this why Jin Fengju has such a swollen head? Come to think of it, Jin Ming’s ability to praise and tease his master was excellent too. That steward not only flatters his master, but also knows how to throw in some jabs to make sure he is seen as more than just an ordinary sycophant. She must learn from him.

She was still pondering over various thoughts when she saw some people walking over with musical instruments. [6d] Fu Qiuning frowned. Wait, does she have to sing everything for the musicians now?

The female official next to her hurried forward to speak with the musicians’ female official. Then, the whole band came over and Fu Qiuning realised that they were all female players.

“… …” Well, it’s either female players or eunuchs in the inner court. What was she expecting?

The musician’s female official came up to Fu Qiuning to introduce herself, “This one is Official Lin. These are Musician Zhang and Musician Liu. The Musicians Zhang and Liu had already discussed it with this Official Lin, from now on, they will compose the music for Madam’s play. After the preliminary rehearsal, they will then later invite male musicians in. What does Madam think?”

Fu Qiuning nodded, “That is fine.”

[6e] The two musicians sat down. One of them had a pipa in her hand, while the other had a paper and brush as well as a little portable table that one of the musicians set up on the floor. The rest of the ‘band’ sat behind the two named musicians, although Fu Qiuning was not entirely sure who was Zhang and who was Liu.

[6e] Once the two had settled down, they looked up at Fu Qiuning expectantly. One of them said, “We are ready, Madam, please sing.”

[6e] Fu Qiuning nodded and sang a couple of verses. All the musicians listened carefully, some of them, including the pipa player, had their eyes closed. The pipa player was even swaying slightly. At the end of the song, the pipa player paused for a moment. Then, her fingers moved and it was as though Fu Qiuning’s song was being sung by the instrument. Even Fu Qiuning was transfixed by her skill.

[6e] At the end of the song, the pipa player looked at Fu Qiuning questioningly. Unable to help herself, Fu Qiuning clapped her hands. “Wonderful, as expected of a palace musician. The music is brought to life by your playing, now I understand the term celestial-like music.”

[6e] The pipa player flushed, “It is Madam who is talented, this lowly musician merely imitates your voice…”

[6f] Meanwhile, the musician with the notepaper was furiously writing. Fu Qiuning saw that it was all in Chinese characters. She nearly went cross-eyed looking at the words that were being rapidly jotted down. Good grief, and Jin Fengju expected her, a modern person who was only familiar with the number system and the western beansprouts, to do this?!

[6e] While they were speaking, music was being plucked or strummed as the other musicians moved their hands as though they could not help themselves. The cacophony of notes in the air was chaotic and melodic at the same time, reminding her of the times before the start of an opera when musicians practised their music.

Lin Shile had nothing but praise for Fu Qiuning. On the other hand, Fu Qiuning was busy directing the girls while the little band crowded around themselves and twittered excitedly over the new music obviously brimming with ideas on how to put a whole orchestra together. Fu Qiuning left them to it while she supervised the performers. As a singing teacher, she should concentrate on what she does best. Dancing and the role setting would come after she had seen what they could do.


Please read this at kitchennovel dot com ~


In a blink of an eye, noon came.

A maid from Chengci Palace arrived to invite the Marchioness over for a meal. The performers and musicians all left after saluting Fu Qiuning. Fu Qiuning followed the maid back to the Chengci palace. She found Old Madam Jin and Madam Jiang still loitering inside the palace. Looks like they had clung to Fu Qiuning’s favour to bum off a meal with the Empress Dowager at the palace.

After lunch, Old Madam Jin and Madam Jiang left, but Fu Qiuning returned to the Jade Lotus Pavilion to continue working. By the time the sun was sinking down the red skies, the performers had learned two sets of songs. [6] As for the musicians, Fu Qiuning left them to do their own thing. Some practised in a corner on their own, while others sat by the side to watch as Fu Qiuning trained the singers, their fingers moving or tapping out the music unconsciously. It was not a bad atmosphere to be in. It brought to mind her youth when she was one of the hopeful performers aiming to one day stand on a stage before a grand audience.

Thanks to the diligence and professionalism of the palace performers, Fu Qiuning only had to coach them a little. Even so, when the Empress Dowager tried to keep her back, she lowered her head, practically radiating anxiousness as she thought about the children at home. [1] There was no way she was going to exchange the vixens she knew for this boss of all vixens. Instead, she bleated pathetically about how anxious she was about the children at home, until finally, the Empress Dowager allowed her to go home.


[Gumihou: Reveal thought holes in 6a. Redid the music recording scenes with a pipa since canon gave us ‘two musicians’.]

Pipa player:

Why am I doing the thinking for you, White Pear Flower?


[1] Replace ‘kyaa’ with ‘eww’

The text actually talked about how her hubby is like soooo handsome~~ and like, she didn’t need to look at any handsome guys because hubby is like sooooo handshome~~

[2] Change the speech from something snooty to something that an opera teacher would say.

[3] Adjust misogynistic thought process to something more natural than the ‘eww backwards man-worshipping women, yuck’. Seriously, the derisive tones (from the author no less) included words like ‘with such beautiful wishes in mind’, like, ma’am don’t hate on these poor ladies.

Inject more ‘practicality’ over ‘nyaa~~’

[4] Adjusted some weird/dubious musical practices

[4a] Desperately memorising words only? With racing brains? Professional actors and dancing troupe? Bitch, how did you get this job in the first place?

A good memory should be the absolute basic.

[5] Somehow, FQN’s ‘back when she was neglected’ past was only mentioned to make others (not JFJ) look bad and AR Qiuning look good at the same time. Eiii, be generous. Let’s use this opportunity to make every single freaking person look bad, eh?

[6] Bring in FQN’s past experience as a teacher of opera singing. Like, author seems to have completely forgotten this.

[6a] What is this broken logic?

Explain the broken logic in place of ‘Fu Qiuning glanced at the woman and suddenly smiled’. There is no brilliant leapt of thought here. Just a teacher who had enough of your shit.

[6b] Actual thing that you want to find in a singer is a willingness to adapt, expressiveness and a certain ‘magic’ that can’t be fully trained. Techniques, memorisation etc could all be done later. I don’t know why the author was harping on and on about the singers memorising the words. While a good memory is important, it should be the last thing after ‘that magic touch’, emotional delivery, technique and willingness to learn.

AR Qiuning’s technique is like choosing someone who could recite recipes and steps by memory, and not actual cooking skills.

So, noped that out.

Pill Bug: She’s probably just too rushed for time, so she chose half-baked people who can be baked quickly to completion rather than A++ ingredients that take too long to cook.

Gumihou: More likely, author has no clue what she was talking about

[6c] What is this?

“You understand? Although you sang first, you didn’t sing on the tune. Rather than saying that those who sang later took advantage, It would be better to say that they suffer. Because if they listened to you, they would easily get out of tune, but they didn’t, and they sang better than you, which means that they remember better than you. They can be trained, but you may not. “

Give real and proper reasons instead of the above mystical shit.

[6d] Efficiency vs scene break.

Like, why do you all turn up one after another? I’m tired, bitch.

[6e] What is this?

After the female musicians came in, Fu Qiuning sang the first two pieces of music. Seeing that the musicians were listening attentively, then scribbled down the notes on the paper, played roughly in a moment, and they were almost inseparable. This surprised Fu Qiuning quite a bit. She thought: These were indeed the musicians in the imperial palace. Probably all the geniuses playing musical instruments in the world were concentrated here. The effect was too immediate.

That’s it, that’s the entirety of the musicians transcribing the music. One measly paragraph of nonsense.

It just screams ‘I dunno what I’m writing trololol~’!!

[6f] Added a little detail on ancient China sheet music. Which uses actual Chinese characters (shudder) and not the familiar western beansprouts or even the number notation for modern Chinese sheet music

[7] Deleted placating misogynistic words that serve no purpose other than make FQN sound like an ass. I think it’s supposed to make her sound wise and superior? Dude? It’s buttholes all the way down.

“Actually, it’s not necessarily because I chose it. The rest of you must have good looks, singing and dancing. These days, there will be many distinguished guests in the palace, to dance and sing at that time, as long as you perform well, you can also get rich rewards, maybe you will be favored by some high-ranking official, and the emperor will send you there.”

In fact, she didn’t think there was anything good about this kind of fate, but these ancient women were different from herself. They thought it was a good fate. Sure enough, after hearing Fu Qiuning’s words, many girls’ eyes lit up, and they were never the same as before. of frustration. has a new Membership System!!

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Melissa

    Thank you for that selection of the singers. Yea we are a competitive selfish lot where all think there voice is good. Just look at the talent shows we have. Some people are so self absorbed they beleive they are entitled for a place or solo. Good job putting them in place. Loved how you raised the musicians.

  2. Melissa

    Husband is rotting fruit! What a great analogy! Thank you for that!

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