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03. Autumn River Evening Fishing
- (Shang mode: 1 2 4 5 6 1 2 ) 2
秋江晚釣 1 
Qiujiang Wandiao
  Autumn River Evening Fishing: a well-known theme 3    
Although this Autumn River Evening Fishing has a clear melodic relationship with earlier pieces on a spring river theme, a short note at the front of the version here in Faming Qinpu (1539) says it is by Yan Ziling (ca. 40 BCE to ca 40 CE),4 one of the most famous examples of a scholar who declined public life in favor of honorable reclusion.5 Around the year 14 CE, Yan studied at the state academy in Changan. He was then about 40, having spent a number of years in retirement, together with other honorable men, in the Shaoxing area, due to the turmoil that took place while the usurper Wang Mang was in power (6-23). At the academy Yan met Liu Xiu (5 BCE-57 CE), who later ruled as the Han dynasty Guangwu emperor (25-57 CE). Although Liu Xiu was then about 20 years younger than Yan, they became very close friends, and several stories attest to their strong personal relationship. When Liu Xiu became emperor he was able to persuade Yan Ziling to visit him in the capital, but he could not persuade him to take office. Instead Yan went into retirement again, this time in a secluded spot up the Fu Chun River (or Fu Chun Mountain, overlooking the Qian Tang River) about 100 km. southwest of Hangzhou, spending his time enjoying nature. A Yan Ziling Fishing Terrace still commemorates the supposed location, though even after a modern dam raised the level of the river, the terrace seems far too high above it to mark a fishing spot.6

Although this melody title survives in six handbooks from 1530 to 1802, two of them (1647 and its 1692 reprint) are versions of a completely different melody,7 while the music and section titles in 1802 seem to be copied from 1589 (though the lyrics were not included). Thus the comments here need concern only the first three versions: those from 1539, 1585, and 1589 (reprinted 1609).

These three musically related versions all connect the melody to the Yan Ziling story given above. The 1530 version mentions this only in a short note at the front, but the 1585 and 1589 versions both have prefaces giving further details. The lyrics in all three are related but not identical.

The 1589 version also gives titles to the sections, as follows:

  1. Fishing in a great river (harmonics)
  2. Wandering beyond the realm of worldly affairs
  3. Happily inebriated with the landscape
  4. Cast aside the worldly net
  5. In purity, natural interests (harmonics identical to those of Section 1)
  6. Laughingly ramble along the shore in autumn
  7. Floating clouds, fame and wealth
  8. Minced lin fish and heated wine ("become slow")

Further regarding the lyrics in these three handbooks, I have not been able to trace their source, but they are said to have a Yuan dynasty flavor.8 In this regard it might be noted that during the Yuan period the topic of scholars who refused to work for the government would have been particularly relevant, and that there was at least one Yuan dynasty opera connected to Yan Ziling.9

In addition, the melody of Qiu Jiang Wan Diao has a clear musical relationship with the instrumental melody Spring[!] River Evening View (Chun Jiang Wan Tiao) of 1525. This spring river melody is in turn related to other spring river melodies published around that time.10 Earliest is the Chun Jiang Qu of 1511, with completely unrelated lyrics and associated with Guo Zhen. More closely related are the instrumental Chun Jiang melodies, such as those published in 1539, 1551 and 1557; some of these are associated with the Song dynasty essayist and poet Yu Ji.

On the other hand two melodies with somewhat similar names, Qiujiang Yebo (Autumn River Night Anchorage) and Qiujiang Songbie (Autumn River Sendoff), are melodically unrelated.11

Original Preface12
None, but below the title are the words, "Shang mode, 8 sections, by Yan Ziling of the Han dynasty".

Music and Lyrics13
Eight Sections, untitled (comment; timings follow my recording 聽錄音)

1.   (00.00)
The bustle of worldly affairs: how can it compare with my beautiful clouds and waves,
riding in a boat, or setting up a tent?
Or letting out a fishing line, reddish jade in hand,
and facing the slanting sunbeams?
Sigh at the floating clouds of riches and honor, the ties of fame and restrictions of gain,
soon what have they become? Days and months fly by like a shuttle.

2.   (00.39)
Pleasure, pleasure, who realizes it?
Down comes the mist and solitary ducks gather to fly.
Autumn waters and the vast heavens are one color,
Times like this allow one to forget obstructions (in the stream of life).
Discard kerchief exposing the hair, ramble off without restraint,
No restraints and no binds, attaining one's ends.
Someplace with a bright moon and clear wind,
Not aware of whether society is experiencing peace or danger.

3.   (01.15)
Slanting sunbeams at an old ferry pier;
Blue waters and green mountains, at sunrise clouds gather.
Evenings are cool, a gentle breeze, only seeing all around the wind soughing.
Everything is contemplated and all attained, effortlessly make predictions mid-stream.
Scorn ancestry, cast aside royalty, have plants as friends, birds as comrades;
no glory, no disgrace, no grief, just rambling and wandering, attaining freedom.

4.   (01.44)
As grass and trees wither and fall, you see geese southward flying.
Water and sky are one color, hard to distinguish; everything (is like) green porcelain.
Amiable, carefree and at peace, in a pale bamboo hat and green raincoat.
Slanting wind, fine rain, no need to return home.
Populated areas basically do no have waves, without interest you look at it, (as if) all day wind and waves.
Round the clock how much of shock and suspiction one suffers.
Only when I reside amongst waters and clouds in the countryside, whole life forgetting cravings, far from "fast horses with light fur".
The Mysterious Truth Sage is then my friend, "Nature Follower (Lou Guimeng) my teacher.
Discard skins and furs, wasted in the order to search (for me) here by the rivers and lakes.

5.   (02.40)
Fish frolic, kites fly, to and fro in the bright heavens and shadows of clouds.
Azure (waters) are limpid a great distance, waves do not rise,
Calm and quiet, (from the) shallow banks there is no sound. Green vapors, light ripples.
Sigh passing away like this, bright soaking everything.
Like getting sacred clarity, enjoying letting out a fishing line.

6.   (03.18)
Facing reed flowers white, smartweed flowers also red, hibiscus seam, adorn autumn style.
Both banks red maples, with yellow leaves, all day jade dew and precious breezes.
The Yangzi River is vast and limitless. Sing a melody: Great Peace Song,
Not knowing north or sout, west or east.
Beginning to dwell without time reaching what is sufficient, laugh that among people no one else follows along this way.
Really these rivers and mountains don't exchange with the Three Dukes; comrade of fish and shrimp, firend of gull and egrets.
Alas! As for all things: none affects my will. Calmly getting a bit of food is better than 1,000 measures.

7.   (04.08)
Flood waters reach their limit, cold pools are clear, the mist is bright and freezing, evening mountains are purple,
The curve of a new moon hangs like a silver hook, evening brings out the vastness of rivers and lakes, and you can see Feng Yi's Palace
Cool winds arise all around, casting aside the summer heat, the cultured world is as nothing.
It is enough to have coarse clothing, pleasant plain food, allow suspend purple silk purse, carry goldfish (tallies).

8.   (04.42)
Bustle with clamor for a long time I haven't heard,
In the arena of fame how can my heart seek fame and profit?
Lie down in the sun, as it slants in the west, when I get a fish then buy some wine.
When enebriation comes take my long walking stick and hold it in my hand, one sound lacking.
(One sound lacking.)

Harmonic coda   (05.20; the 1530 tablatue has no lyrics here, so these are added from 1589)
(Autumn River like a raw silk thread, make a misty wave fishing old man.
Falling glory shine on fishing line, really a non-surplus prince.)

End   (05.48)
(The above translation obviously is very tentative; assistance would be useful.)

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Autumn River Evening Fishing (秋江晚釣 Qiujiang Wandiao (I/325)
25505.69 秋江 Qiujiang "A river on an autumn day"; mentions no specific river with this name and does not mention Qiujiang Wandiao.

2. Mode
Faming Qinpu does not mention the mode, but later handbooks include it in the shang mode.

3. Images for Autumn River Evening Fishing
An internet search will show several paintings with this title; the present one is copy of a fan painting signed 張定 Zhang Ding (張叔木 Zhang Shumu), Qing dynasty.

4. 嚴光 Yan Guang (嚴子陵 Yan Ziling (ca. 40 BCE to ca 40 CE)
4689.47 and Bio/812 嚴光 Yan Guang have basically the same information as in Giles, A Chinese Biographical Dictionary:

Yan Guang 嚴光 (Ziling 子陵). A friend in youth of the Emperor Guang Wu of the Han dynasty. When the latter came to the throne in A.D. 25, he sent to summon Yan Guang to court; but Yan Guang preferred a life in the country, devoted to fishing and agriculture. On one occasion when the old friends met, the Emperor insisted on their sleeping together; and during the night Yan Guang put his foot on His Majesty's stomach. Next morning the Grand Astrologer reported that a strange star had been seen occupying the Imperial place; at which the Emperor laughed and said, "It's only my old friend Yan Ziling, with whom I was sleeping last night."

The Fishing Terrace to which Yan is said subsequently to have retired is discussed above and picture below.

The preface in 1585 speaks of Yan Ziling, as follows:


The 1589 and 1647 versions have prefaces which tell essentially the same story, though 1647 is somewhat elaborated.

There are no poems attributed to Yan in Yuefu Shiji, nor have I been able to find others elsewhere.

5. For more on reclusion see Alan Berkowitz, Patterns of Disengagement, Stanford U. Press, 2000, pp. 102-104.

6. Yan Ziling Fishing Terrace (嚴子陵釣魚臺 Yan Ziling Diao Yu Tai) Old Photo of the Fishing Terrace        
As of 2012 the modern tourist site, on the 富春江 Fuchun River about 10 km downriver from where it is joined by the Qu Jiang, was difficult to locate on a map. One way is to do a Google map search for "浙江杭州桐廬縣嚴陵塢" (Tonglu, Yanlingwu, Hangzhou, Zhejiang by itself does not seem to work), which finds Yanlingwu, then turn on photo view: across the 富春江 Fuchun ("Abundant Spring") River) from Yanlingwu are links to a number of photos that show areas around the dock at which boats land for visiting the two fishing terraces, which requires a steep uphill walk to a cliff.

One of the photos linked is this one, copied here from 從遊艇上看嚴子陵釣台秋色 (From a Passing Skiff Viewing Autumn Colors at Yan Ziling Fishing Terrace), taken by someone identified only by the name "lxp455" (see more). The fishing terraces can be seen on cliffs to the upper right and left of the image.

When I visited the terrace in 2002 with fellow members of the New York Qin Society we found basic accommodations, but we did not have time to stay - only to make the steep climb up to the terrace on the cliff.

The photo at right was copied from page 88 of China, Land of Splendours, which features photos taken in China before 1949. The caption identifies the terrace as being at 七里瀧 Qililong (compare Qili Tan).


7. Tracing Qiu Jiang Wan Diao
Zha Fuxi's Guide 15/156/333 has the following under 秋江晚釣 Qiu Jiang Wan Diao:

  1. 1530 (I/347; 8 sections; music similar to Chun Jiang of 1551, etc., but lyrics diff.)
  2. 1585 (IV/365 [not in 1573]; 8, titled; preface; lyrics and music similar to 1530)
  3. 1589 (VII/95; 8, titles diff. from 1585, but lyrics and music similar to the previous versions; reprinted in 1609)
  4. 1647 (X/94; a version of Qiujiang Yebo !)
  5. 1692 (identical to 1647)
  6. 1802 (XIX/260; shang yin; 8, titles and music same as 1589 Taigu Yiyin, but no lyrics)

"Lyrics similar" means that the lyrics of the versions are similar throughout, differences mostly being character substitutions, perhaps to fit the somewhat differing melodies.

8. Commentary on the Qiu Jiang Wan Diao lyrics
Regarding the source of the lyrics (中文), Prof. Lam Lap of the National University of Singapore wrote (personal communication, 2010):

"Judging from the style of writing and diction, the lyrics look like a product at least from the Yuan dynasty. They resemble a Yuan drama libretto." (However, they are not in the libretto mentioned below.)

Regarding differences in the three versions, all three use the formula for pairing lyrics and tablature commonly used at that time: one character for each right hand stroke. Many of the differences between the lyrics of 1530 and those of 1589 are due to the fact that the latter uses two characters for the left hand technique 對起 duiqi, in which the left ring finger remains pressed to the string while the left thumb plucks it. Zheyin Shizi Qinpu uses this pairing technique for duiqi, but Faming Qinpu has only one character with each duiqi.

9. Yan Ziling Fishes at Qilitan (嚴子陵垂釣七里灘 Yan Ziling Chuidiao Qilitan)
    A Yuan opera by 宮天挺 Gong Tianting (text, from XXSKQS)
This play (4689.3xxx 嚴子) "has been preserved only in a 14th century edition. The text is easily available in a number of modern critical editions.... Its songs also circulated independently in the 16th century." (Wilt Idema, personal communication, 2010.)

Qilitan (4.199): "地名,一名七里瀨,浙江桐盧縣嚴陵山之西 the name of a place, also called Qililai (and Qililong?), on the west side of Yanling mountain in Tonglu country of Zhejiang." The entry quotes a reference in the biography of Yan Guang in the Latter Han Dynasty History, saying this was a seven li stretch of the 富春渚 Fuchun riverbank (islet?) in which he had his fishing terrace.

10. Chun Jiang melodies
Zha Guide 19/183/-- lists 春江晚眺 Chun Jiang Wan Tiao as occuring only in 1525. The other 春江 Chun Jiang melodies are indexed under 春江曲 Chun Jiang Qu, see 14/150/267. This latter includes seven handbooks from 1511 to 1596, but the Guide does not include two books that have it, 1551 and 1556, plus one of these is unrelated, so altogether there were eight.

11. Other Autumn River melodies
For more on these see:

秋江送別 Qiujiang Songbie (Autumn River Sendoff; 26/217/416)
秋江夜泊 Qiujiang Yebo (Autumn River Night Anchorage; 30/236/--)

Note that at least once Qiujiang Yebo is mistakenly called Qiujiang Wandiao.

12. Original preface
None. Says only "商調,八段,漢嚴子陵作"

13. 秋江晚釣 Qiujiang Wandiao original lyrics (QQJC I/325-70; Zha Guide 33)
The source of these lyrics is not anywhere stated (though see the comment above). As can be seen by the comment at the end, the compiler seems to have been at a loss as to how to end the lyrics. Repeats are indicated, but it is not at all clear what is to be repeated. The version in Yang Lun Taigu Yiyin (VII/91-3) has had lyrics added to the coda as well as subtitles to each section; these are all given below. Thus entire original lyrics and later subtitles are as follows:

1.(搖綸江漢) (泛起)
不久將如何,日月如梭。 (泛止)



惟我在水雲鄉,一生忘嗜慾,遠輕肥。 (Fingering same as 6.8 and 7.4: same rhythm?)
玄真子即我友,天隨子乃我師。     ("乃" is from 1589; 1530 had "非")

5.(凈中清趣) (泛起)
猶得聖之清,好下絲綸。 (泛止)



一聲慳 慳  ∠   ∠   ∠   (i.e. "等等 and so forth". Wouldn't 一聲留 fit better than 一聲慳?)

泛起 (begin harmonics)
  ∠   ∠  

(These "" seem to suggest that at the end the compiler is at a loss as to how to add lyrics. In this regard compare 1589, which adds lyrics for the last line, then calls the closing harmonics a coda, adding lyrics, as follows:)



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