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Chapter Four: Northern and Southern Dynasties 1
Xu Jian, Introductory History of the Qin, pp. 49-50

B. Qin Melodies (continued2)

3. Song of Vexation (Aonong Ge 3) 懊儂歌  

(Note: Unlike with the previous melody, Wu Ye Ti, there is no surviving guqin melody related to the title or story of Aonong Ge. Xu Jian apparently discusses both of them in order to show that in the early days it was not uncommon for folk songs to be played on the guqin.4 As with Wu Ye Ti, the title, story and lyrics of Aonong Ge can be found in the Qingshang Quci [Songs in the Qingshang Mode, YFSJ Folios 44-51] section of Yuefu Shiji. Qingshang Quci were divided into Wu Sheng Gequ [Songs of Wu, Folios 44-47/1], Xiqu Ge [Western Tunes, Folios 47/2-49; includes Wu Ye Ti], and Jiangnan Nong [Jiangnan Performances, Folios 50-51]. Xu Jian also mentions Matching Songs [Xianghe Geci, collected in YFSJ, Folios 26-43].)

This is one of the Qingshang Music's Songs of Wu (see in YFSJ, Folio 46). Songs of Wu were folk songs passed down in the municipalities of the Jianye region of the lower Yangzi river (the area around modern Nanjing). According to the Music Annals of the History of the Song Dynasty, "As for Aonong Ge, it was the melody of a folk ballad5 among the people at the beginning of the Longan period (397 - 402, of the reign of Emperor An) of Jin. From the beginning of the Jin dynasty's Longan period (397 CE) through every period of the Northern and Southern Dynasties era this song underwent many changes, until the Liu Song period, when it was already "changed into a new song". In the Southern Qi (479-502) it was also considered a palace song (zhongchao qu6)". During the Liang dynasty it was then "changed into Melody of Mutual Affection".7 (source: Gujin Yuelu8)

The existing lyrics altogether include 14 short verses.9 The main content express expresses the frustration one felt when one's love life is opposed by one's own family. The last one is as follows:

How frustrated I feel!
In the evening the family says: I cannot be with you.

The melody for (Aonong Ge) was often used by people who would fill in (their own) lyrics and (thus) make songs.

(As related in Qinshi Bu biography of Wang Zhongxiong and elsewhere,10), the royal collection [御府] of Emperor Ming of the Qi dynasty (AD 494-497) treasured a Scorched Tail Qin supposedly made by Cai Yong, which was only taken out every five days for Wang Zhongxiong to play for the emperor. Wang Zhongxiong "excelled at playing the qin" and "was one of the best in the lower Yangzi region". He used his opportunity for playing to sing a version of Aonong Ge, filling in his own lyrics. The lyrics had sentences such as

"I have always lamented your heartlessness; and now you have finally committed the deed." Plus,
"When a gentleman's actions do not cleanse the heart, he is proclaimed an evil man."11

In this way he meant to advise the emperor not to execute his father Wang Jingze12 (Nan Qi Shu). Thus one can see that the Song of Wu Aonong Ge was also popular at that time as a qin song.

In general, qin melodies of the Northern and Southern dynasties include: Xianghe Ge such as He Chang and Bai Hu; Songs to Accompany Dance (Fuwu Gequ) such as Jieshi Diao: Youlan (see Jieshi in YFSJ); Xiqu songs such as Wu Ye Ti and Wusheng songs such as Ao Nong Ge (above). These without exception are all from folk music. These folk songs generally have content that reflect love life.

Apart from these, in the written record are also Tao Hongjing's Hujia Qu, Zheng Shuzu's Longyin Shi Nong, and the Bie Gu that Chu Yuan (Chu Yanhui13) played (it may be the traditional Bie He Cao).

(Go to concluding remarks or return to top)

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. The period covered is roughly 420- 589 CE.

2. Initial translation by Jin Qiuyu

3. Aonong Ge 懊儂歌
The three relevant references add little to the YFSJ / Wang Zhongxiong material:

11596.9 懊儂 aonong = 懊懊惱 aonao: angry, vexed
11596.10 懊儂曲 Aonong Qu: same as Aonong Ge (quotes Wang Zhongxiong story from 南史,王敬則 the biography of his father)
11596.11 懊儂歌 Aonong Ge : extensive quotes from YFSJ; short quote from 古樂府,懊儂歌﹕「絲布澀難縫....」 (see below, #1).

4. Add other examples

5. Folk Ballad (訛謠 e yao; 訛 sometimes written 言+為)
11/75 訛謠 e yao: "民謠、歌謠" folk ballad; it then gives as an example the same passage as here, but it says it is from the 舊唐書 Old Tang History, which also gives as an example of Aonong, 「歌云﹕春草可攬結,女兒可攬擷。」

6. Palace Song/s (中朝曲 Zhongchao Qu)
The modern edition of YFSJ has 齊太祖常謂之《中朝曲》, as though Zhongchao Qu is a song name, but I cannot find supporting evidence (see also I/609):

76.577 中朝: Zhou region; China; central government; 朝中 in the palace; 中葉 during a dynasty?; 臨朝 enter the palace
76.578 中朝故事 Zhongchao Gushi: A book from 五代南唐 Southern Tang dynasty.

7. Melody of Mutual Affection (相思曲 Xiang Si Qu)
This title as mentioned here (see next footnote) has no connection to the later qin melodies of this title (e.g.,in 1585, etc).

8. Yuefu Shiji commentary on Ao Nong Ge
The complete original commentary in YFSJ, Folio 46 (p. 667) first quotes 古今樂錄 Gujin Yuelu, then 宋書 Song History, as follows:


"梁天監十一年,武帝敕法雲改為《相思曲》" seems to say, "During the 11th year of Liang Tian Jian reign (502-520) emperor Wudi ordered (the monk) Fayun to change (the title) to Xiang Si Qu." (Or perhaps he said that the Xiang Si Qu of Fayun should be one of the Aoneng Ge.)

9. Aonong Ge Lyrics
The original Aonong Ge lyrics as found in YFSJ, Folio 46 (pp. 667-8) are:

我與歡相憐,約誓底言者。常歡負情人,郎今果成詐。(Compare 常歎負情儂,郎今果行許。
懊惱奈何許,夜聞家中論,不得儂與汝。 (This one translated above).

This is followed by 懊儂曲 Aonong Qu by 唐溫庭筠 (Tang) Wen Tingyun (p. 668):


10. The original biography of Wang Zhongxiong in Qinshi Bu is as follows.


See also: 《南史•王敬則傳》則說:「仲雄在御前鼓琴,作《懊儂曲》,歌曰:常嘆負情儂,郎今果行許。」

11. Regarding the two Aonong Ge verses attributed to Wang Zhongxiong:


The first is clearly related to the sixth of the YFSJ Aonong Ge. I am not sure where the second comes from. (儂 nong I/1691: "my, a person's, his, your, surname.)

12. Regarding Wang Zhongxiong's use of Aonong Ge, Donald Holzman wrote (PDF),

"In the 南齊書 Nan Qishu 26, p. 485, Wang Zhongxiong (fl. 500), the son of Wang Jingze, quotes No. 6 of the "Aonong ge" to criticize his sovereign. There is no suggestion hère that the poem was written by Wang Zhongxiong; he uses a ballad that in all probability dates from a century earlier and perhaps deliberately misquotes it (see above) so as not to offend the emperor.

13. Chu Yuan 褚淵 (435 - 482)
See 褚褚彥回 Chu Yanhui. Not "Zhu Yuan".

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