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32. Pounding Cloth Melody 搗衣曲 1
- shang mode,2 standard tuning: 5 6 1 2 3 5 6 played as 1 2 4 5 6 1 2
Dao Yi Qu
Tang ladies pounding silk cloth 3                      
With the present melody, most likely "dao yi" refers to the process of using sticks to pound cloth in order to soften its fiber. The famous painting at right shows this process, though here it seems to show wealthy ladies, with the cloth specifically made of silk. The lyrics here are in the voice of a woman who pounds cloth while her husband serves the government as a soldier on the frontier (more under 1589 Dao Yi).

In Fengxuan Xuanpin (1539) Dao Yi Qu is a song in one section.6 It is grouped with shang mode pieces. It has no preface or attribution, and is known to occur only in this handbook. There seem to be several errors in the tablature, making interpretation problematic.7 A transcription of this Daoyi Qu by Wang Di is included in her Qin Songs (1982; staff notation) and Xian'ge Yayun (2007, number notation, with tablature).8

The melody Dao Yi9 from 1589 (and later), as well as the melody Gui Yuan Cao from that same handbook, also concerns lady whose husband is seeking advancement (enfeoffment) on the frontier, but it has no musical relationship with this Dao Yi Qu and is discussed separately. There being no reliable information on the age of the present melody, there is not much use in speculating its connection with related titles found on old melody lists, such as Hearing Pounding on an Autumn Evening (Qiuye Wen Zhen).10

Although the later melody is unrelated musically to the Dao Yi Qu here in Fengxuan Xuanpin, the lyrics of that later melody use the present lyrics in its Sections 11 and 12, with a short addition in the middle. At least five later handbooks use a version of these longer lyrics. Nevertheless, even these versions with lyrics may work also as instrumental melodies, and it is difficult to say how their being paired with lyrics affected the melodies.11

Original preface


Music and lyrics (timing follows my recording; listen 聽錄音)
A largely syllabic setting of the lyrics, a tentative translation of which is as follows,13
(compare 1589 Dao Yi and/or 1609 Qingshang Diao)

搗衣,搗衣,復搗衣,  搗到更深月落時。
Dǎo yī, dǎo yī, fù dǎo yī, dǎo dào gēng shēn yuè luò shí.
Pound cloth, pound cloth, keep pounding cloth,
    pound them until late at night when the moon is setting.

臂弱不勝砧杵重,          心忙惟恐(那)搗聲遲。
Bì ruò bùshèng zhēn chǔ zhòng, xīn máng wéikǒng (nà) dǎo shēng chí.
Arms weak and unable to handle the heavy block and club,
    anxious heart just fearing the slowness of the pounding.

妾身不是商人妾,          商人貿易東復西。
Qiè shēn bù shì shāngrén qiè,shāngrén mào yì dōng fù xi.
I am not the concubine of a businessman,
    a businessman exchanging goods east and west.

妾身不是蕩子婦,          寂寞空房為誰苦。
Qiè shēn bù shì dàng zi fù, jì mò kōng fáng wèi shuí kǔ.
I am not the wife of a vagrant,
    alone at night bitter at someone.

妾夫為國戎邊頭,          黃金鎖甲(的那)跨紫騮。
Qiè fu wèi guó róng biān tóu, huáng jīn suǒ jiǎ (dì nà) kuà zǐ liú.
My husband is serving the government on the barbarian frontier,
    with golden chain mail astride an excellent steed.

從渠一去三十秋,          死當廟食生封侯。
Cóng qú yī qù sānshí qiū, sǐ dāng miào shí shēng fēng hóu.
Following his commander he has been gone 30 years,
    (so that) at death he'll be honored with temple food and enfeoffed as a lord.

如此別離尤不惡,          年年為君搗衣與君著。
Rú cǐ bié lí yóu bù è, nián nián wèi jūn dǎo yī yǔ jūn zhe.
In this way he departs yet I do not hate it,
    so year after year for him I pound cloth so he can wear it.

01.22 (end)

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. 搗衣曲 Dao Yi Qu references (compare 擣衣)
One melody list includes a 擣衣弄 Dao Yi Nong in its listing by type: in it list of qin nong it is #19. The age of this list is not stated and the reference may be to a Li Bai poem that includes this version of the words dao yi (see Ziye Wu Ge, in particular the lyrics).

12840.2 搗衣 dao yi, 又作擣衣, has nothing about poetry or music, instead describing the process whereby two women pound cloth. It also refers to a painting about this, probably the original of the one copied above. "衣 yi" could refer to common cloth or clothing, in contrast to "練 lian", silk, as in the image above (comment). 搗練圖 Dao Lian Tu is the name given the famous painting, while 12849.9 describes 搗練子 daolianzi as 詞牌名 the name of a cipai as well as 曲牌名 the name of a qupai.

2. Shang Mode (商調 shang diao)
For more on this mode see Shenpin Shang Yi.

3. Image
For more information on this image see the commentary with the 1589 Dao Yi, which currently uses the same one.

6. Dao Yi Qu: A song in one section (compare Dao Yi)
The former were also used for Sections 11 and 12 of the latter; I have not been able to find their source.

7. Errors in the 1539 Daoyi Qu?
Nothing in the original tablature is unplayable. However, several places are worthy of particular comment. In particular:

With this tablature only in one handbook it is difficult to verify or correct my understanding of these passages.

8. Wang Di transcription of Dao Yi Qu
See 1982, p.13; 2007, p.21. The former interprets the tuning as 5 6 1 2 3 5 6; the latter as 1 2 4 5 6 1 2 ; otherwise they seem identical until the final note, which 1982 changes from 1 to 2. In addition, in the 2007 version (which includes the qin tablature) Wang Di omits all the vibratos indicated in the original. Her solution to the second problem mentioned in the footnote above is to change the single slide into a three note slide, giving a note sequence 2-1-7-6 (or 5-4-3-2) and with one character paired to each note. This sort of pairing is not common in the early qin song repertoire, but making it idiomatic requires adding a right hand stroke. My own inclination is either to pair one character on the slide then either add one plucked note (open second string) for the extra character (誰), or simply add it to the end note of the slide.

9. Pounding Cloth (搗衣 Dao Yi) (QQJC VII/129)
For this version beginning 1589 see further details, including the chart

10. Qiuye Wen Zhen 秋夜聞砧 On an Autumn Evening Hearing Pounding (on Stone)
This melody (25505.134xxx; 29749.xxx), the title of which may refer to cloth being pounded, seems to survive only in the same early Ming melody list mentioned above. Could it be related to one of the Dao Yi?

11. Pairing lyrics and music: how did they influence each other?
See further under 1589 Dao Yi.

12. Preface
Perhaps one might here substitute the 1589 preface.

13. Original lyrics of Dao Yi Qu
The original lyrics, which are not attributed, are as follows (translation above; these lyrics are also used with Sections 11 and 12 of the 1589 Dao Yi, with Section 11 also adding the two lines in the indented part):

搗衣,搗衣,復搗衣,  搗到更深月落時。
臂弱不勝砧杵重,          心忙惟恐搗聲遲。
妾身不是商人妾,          商人貿易東復西。
妾身不是蕩子婦,          寂寞空房為誰苦。
          Dao Yi Section 11 here ends by changing 苦 to 守 (shou: protect [herself]), then adding:
          砧聲急,淚如雨,搗衣復搗衣,衣成矣。 Block sounds urgent, tears like rain, pound cloth, pound it again, until the clothing is ready.
          收拾寄寒衣,莫教衣到遲。 Prepare for sending cold(-weather) clothing, cannot allow the clothing to be late.
          Dao Yi Section 12 continues with the rest of the lyrics in Daoyi Qu, as follows:
妾夫為國戎邊頭,          黃金鎖甲的那跨紫騮。
從渠一去三十秋,          死當廟食生封侯。
如此別離尤不惡,          年年為君搗衣與君著。

These have the basic structure 7 x (7+7), with filler syllables 那 added on one line, 的那 on another, and two extra characters at the end.

Return to the annotated handbook list or to the Guqin ToC.