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15. Turtle Mountain Melody
- Standard tuning:2 5 6 1 2 3 5 6 played as 1 2 4 5 6 1 2
龜山操 1
Gui Shan Cao
Confucius offended by female entertainers 3        
Like numbers
13, 14 and perhaps 16, this melody connects to an episode in the life of Confucius. The picture at right illustrates the present story, as recounted in his family biography, Section 47 of the Records of the Grand Historian.4

The people of Qi, fearing how Lu was growing strong because of Confucius' advice, decided to try to weaken the duke of Lu by sending to Lu a present of 80 beautiful dancing girls and 120 fine horses. An official named Ji Huanzi led the duke to see the girls at the city gate. Confucius disciple Zilu told Confucius it was probably time for them to move on, but Confucius wanted to give the duke a chance to do the proper sacrifices. When, instead, the duke accepted the gift and did not hold court for three days, Confucius left, staying at the village of Dun. Here, when another friend came to see him off, he sang a song which in the Shi Ji account had the following lyrics (trans. Yang).

A woman's tongue can cost a man his post;
a woman's words can cost a man his head.
Then why not retire to spend my last years as I please?

Neither Yuefu Shiji (see p.842) nor Taigu Yiyin includes these lyrics. Instead the melody is set to the lyrics in Yuefu Shiji by Han Yu (768-824), in the voice of Confucius. These lyrics are translated below.

Melodies called Guishan Cao are known to survive in only three handbooks.5

Original preface6

Turtle Mountain is in Lu (the home state of Confucius). When Confucius was an official there the people of Qi sent as a gift some female musicians. Ji Huanzi received them, and for three days (the duke) did not hold court. Confucius realized the times were inappropriate, so he wandered off. Looking at Turtle Mountain he wrote this piece.

Music and Lyrics: One section 7
A largely syllabic setting, following the structure of the Han Yu lyrics ([4+4] x 6)

Gui zhi qi xi, bu neng yun yu.
The evaporation of water in Guishan is not sufficient to make clouds and rain.

Gui zhi nie xi, bu zhong liang zhu.
Guishan lumber is not suitable for pillars and beams.

Gui zhi da xi, zhi yi yan Lu.
But Guishan's greatness is sufficient to cover the whole country of Lu.

Zhi jiang hui xi, yuan mo yu wu.
I know it will collapse, and I am sad because this is not where I am.

Zhou Gong you si, xi, jie yu gui fu.
Of Zhou Gong I have (inspirational) thoughts, so I will return to my home.

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Gui Shan Cao 龜山操
49837.4. Zha Fuxi's index has two others, Chongxiu Zhenchuan Qinpu (1585) and Ziyuantang Qinpu (1802). They have the same lyrics and related melodies.

2. Taigu Yiyin does not directly indicate mode.

3. From a reprint of a collection of Qing dynasty prints illustrating the life of Confucius.

4. Translated by Yang Xianyi and Gladys Yang in Records of the Historian; Hong Kong, Commercial Press, 1974, p.9.

5. Tracing Guishan Cao (tracing chart)
The chart below is based on Zha Guide 13/138/243.

6. Original preface
Chinese original not yet online.

7. Original lyrics
The lyrics are the poem of this name by Han Yu (compare in YFSJ) are the same.

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Appendix: Chart Tracing 龜山操 Gui Shan Cao
Based mainly on Zha Guide

    (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/289)
1; lyrics
  2. 重修真傳琴譜
      (1585; IV/409)
1; same lyrics; related music
  3. 自遠堂琴譜
      (1802; XVII/526)
1; zhi yin; same lyrics and almost same music as 1585: corrected?

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