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82. Fisherman's Song
- Zhi mode, standard tuning:2 5 6 1 2 3 5 6 played as 1 2 4 5 6 1 2
Yu Ge illustration, from Kuian Qinpu 3
Xilutang Qintong attributes the standard tuning Yu Ge to the late Song dynasty qin master Mao Minzhong, but this attribution is generally not repeated in later handbooks.
A musically unrelated version of Yu Ge, also generally having 18 sections but using ruibin (raised 5th) tuning, is found in about 40 handbooks from ca. 1491 to 1876. Over 10 handbooks have a version with each tuning, beginning with Xilutang Qintong, which calls the ruibin version Ao Ai.7 Ao Ai eventually became the common name for the ruibin version in later handbooks.
Ao Ai is often preceded by Yuge Diao, a short melody with lyrics by the famous Tang dynasty poet Liu Zongyuan. Based on this Xu Jian lists it as a Tang dynasty melody.8 Some handbooks also attribute Ao Ai to Liu, while a few later ones even attribute to him this zhi mode Yu Ge.
The afterword to Ao Ai Ge in Erxiang Qinpu (1833; 18 sections; ruibin tuning), begins by saying that it is commonly called the "northern Yu Ge"; the writer, perhaps thinking Ao Ai is pentatonic (5 tone scale) and Yu Ge is diatonic (7 tone scale), then suggests this is a mistake.9 In addition, whereas the only geographical reference in the standard tuning (zhi mode) Yu Ge is to the Songpu River, near lake Taihu (relatively northern),.10 the titles and introduction to Ao Ai have clear references to Hunan (southern). Also, several prefaces to later versions of #77 Zuiyu Chang Wan, also connected to the Taihu region, suggest it has melodic relations to the standard tuning version of Yu Ge. On the other hand, section titles of the ruibin version seem to connect it to Xiao Xiang Shui Yun, which also uses ruibin tuning and also is connected to Hunan province (see Chu).
There have been at least eight modern recordings of Yu Ge, perhaps the earliest being the one made by Zha Fuxi at the Library of Congress; all are related to descendants of the version in Xilutang Qintong.11
There are also at least 14 recordings of the unrelated Yu Ge now called Ao Ai; all are related to descendants of the one in Zheyin Shizi Qinpu.12
Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)
Yu Ge references
Early references are as follows:
Neither sheds any light on the origins of the present melody.
Zhi mode (徵調 zhi diao
Standard tuning can also be considered as 5 6 1 2 3 5 6 . For more information about 徵調 zhi mode see Shenpin Zhi Yi. For modes in general see Modality in Early Ming Qin Tablature.
Kuian Qinpu illustration (QQJC XI/44)
The inscription in the upper left corner is not very clear. It begins, "順治庚子... Shunzhi (reign) 1660 (year)...."
More famous is the painting by Wu Zhen (1280-1354) called The Fisherman 吳鎮，漁父圖. The Illustrated Yu Ge Scroll on this website was adapted by Bai Yunli from the "original" in the Shanghai Museum
(there is at least one other "original", in the Freer Gallery, Washington, D.C.). Currently
this webpage has the copy shown below (expand) of the full painting from the Shanghai Museum, together with images from the painting in the Freer, adding commentary comparing the two.
Tracing Yu Ge and Ao Ai
For details see appendix under Ruibin Yu Ge. The numbers are tentative, as many of the handbooks after 1802 have not yet been reprinted. For prefaces and further information of versions using both tunings see Zha 11/117/200 and 21/190/376. Zha generally puts all the Yu Ge together, even those using ruibin tuning.
Green Landscape (山水綠 Shanshui Lü; 8043.xxx)
The fourth line of Liu Zongyuan's poem The Old Fishermen says, "In the green landscape his paddles splash "Ao Ai". These lyrics (欸乃一聲山水[的那]綠) accompany the ruibin tuning melody Yu Ge Diao, but two handbooks with only the standard tuning version of this melody write "also called Shanshui Lü" underneath the title "Yu Ge": Wugang Qinpu (I, p.412) and Qinpu Zhengchuan (II, p.505). Identical to each other, they have 10 titled sections; no preface. The music is basically the same as the 1525 standard tuning version, but some sections are combined. Most later versions have 18 sections, so one might suspect this 10 section version to be earlier, but its actual tablature seems to have more problems, making comparisons more difficult. (Also see next footnote.)
梅雪窩刪製 Meixuewo Shanzhi
The Yu Ge in both Wugang Qinpu (I, p.412) and Qinpu Zhengchuan (II, p.505), variously dated between 1546 and 1561 (?), have a note after "also called Shanshui Lü" that reads, "歲庚戊九日 （月？）梅學窩刪製 year gengwu 9th day (month?), Meixuewo revision". The year indication must be 庚戌 gengxu (1370/1430/1490/1550 etc) but both handbooks clearly have 庚戊 gengwu. For Meixuewo and its connection to Xu Shen see QSCM, #163 and QSCB, Chapter 7.A.1.
7. The 1525 version of 欸乃 Ao Ai is actually quite different from the other Ao Ai; see in the chart. (Return)
8. Qinshi Chubian, p.75 (Return)
9. Zha p. 191 (435) and Erxiang Qinpu, facsimile edition, IV, p.28. See also the comments/footnote with the ruibin version of Yu Ge (Return)
Songpu River reference
See Section 8 聲分淞浦 as well as the Zuiyu Chang Wan afterword. As yet I have not found any specific geographical references in other standard tuning versions of Fisherman's Song (Zha  117ff and 190  ff).
Modern recordings and transcription of Yu Ge
Guqin Quji has transcriptions of three versions of the standard tuning Yu Ge:
After the beginning, all are quite different from 1525; none of the recordings is clear about where or how the player learned them.
Chou Wen-chung (Wiki) captures the flavor of Yu Ge in a lovely composition called Yü Ko (1965); the connection to the original melody can best be heard at the beginning, which is based on the first section of the qin melody.
Yu Ge/Ao Ai recordings
For recordings and transcriptions of the ruibin tuning Yu Ge see under that page.
Original Chinese afterword from 1525
Regarding 奇握溫, 6013.156 says 奇渥溫：元代帝室之姓，清代改作欲特氏。
(Qiwowen: Yuan dynasty royal name; during the Qing dynasty changed to Yuteshi.)
The original Chinese here is:
Original Chinese titles
These are as follows:
Compare the section titles from 1546, which has only 10 sections:
The latter are not yet translated.
Return to the annotated handbook list or to the Guqin ToC.
The latter are not yet translated.