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113. Meaning of Yize Mode
- same as mangong and nanlü,2 from standard tuning lower 1st, 3rd and 6th strings: 3 5 6 1 2 3 5
夷則意 1
Yize Yi

"Yize" ("exotic standard") is the 9th of the 12 Chinese tones. It is used here with only two melodies, Chu Tai Yin and Yuan You. The accompanying commentary mentions it together with two other mode titles that use the same tuning: Man'gong in Shen Qi Mi Pu, and Nanlü ("southern tube"), #134 here in Xilutang Qintong (associated only with #135 Jin Wei (Respectful and Polite). Nanlü is the name of the 10th of the 12 tones, while mangong literally means "lowered gong" (probably meaning "lowered first string"). It is not clear what modal significance these names have, but the tunings are identical.

The title Yize Yi survives only in Xilutang Qintong.4 There is no preface, but there is commentary just under the heading at the front of the mode that explains the tuning in detail.5

The melody of #135 Jin Wei is the same as that of Huo Lin in Folio I of Shen Qi Mi Pu, which calls the tuning mangong. However, although yize, mangong and nanlü are identical tunings, and the above statement from Xilutang Qintong makes no effort to distinguish between them, there may in fact be some modal differences.

Looking at the tonal centers of melodies in yize mode, based on the closing notes these three (#113-115) pieces in yize mode have their overall tonal center on 1 (do) with the secondary on 5 (sol). However, the tonal center often changes to center on 6 (la), with 3 (mi) as a secondary; in particular, with Yuan You 6 and 3 are the predominant tonal centers except at the beginning and end. The one melody in nanlü, Huolin - Jin Wei, also seems to have 1 as its primary tonal center, but for most of it 6 also seems to be the most important tonal center. Melodies with tonal centers on 1 and 5 might be compared in Western terms to a major mode, while those with tonal centers on 6 and 3 might be compared to a Western minor mode. However, in Huo Lin the tonal center most commonly seems to shift between 1 and 3.

As for themes, the two melodies using yize tuning have themes related to Qu Yuan and the state of Chu. Melodies with that connection generally use a raised fifth string tuning: most often raised fifth (ruibin) or raised second and fifth (qiliang), but also raised second, fifth and seventh (Guxian). Although yize tuning is said to be achieved by lowering the first, third and sixth strings, the same relative tuning can be reached by raising the second, fourth, fifth and seventh strings.

However, the theme of Huolin - Jinwei does not concern the state of Chu: it is a story about Confucius.



One Section; timings follow
my recording 聽錄音 (go to Chutai Yin)

00.00   1.
00.57   harmonic coda
01.18   end

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Yize references
39908.203 discusses it only in terms of the 12 pitches.

2. Yize: same as man'gong and nanlü
See further comment

4. Tracing Yize Yi
Zha: 21/--/-- .

5. Comment below mode title
Below the mode title (夷則調曲譜 Melodies in Yize Mode" is the following explanation (see QQJC III/207):

(From standard tuning)lower the first, third and sixth strings one position. This old yize stringing is commonly called
mangong (lowered third) mode. Yize and nanlü (see #134 Nanlü Yi and #135 Jin Wei) use the fourth string as gong (do or 1; hence the relative tuning 3 5 6 1 2 3 5). Thus the open 6th string has the same sound as the 4th string stopped in the 12th position."

The last statement is clearly a misprint: if one follows the instructions regarding the tuning method, the open 6th string will have the same sound as the 4th string stopped in the 11th position, not the 12th. Further confusion may result from certain other factors regarding this tuning.

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