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XLTQT   ToC   #161 Fairy Jade in the Wind 聽 Listen   首頁
160. Defining Jade Lady Mode
- Yu Nü mode1: 7 2 3 5 6 1 2 (lower the first and third strings2)
Yu Nü Yi
This modal prelude seems to be specifically connected with the following melody, Fairy Jade in the Wind (
Xian Pei Ying Feng). However, it is not clear whether any connection is connected to Jade Ladies (or Jade Girls) and the River Nymphs of the latter melody.4

Although the instructions for this tuning say, "lower the first and third strings", with minor adjustments both this modal prelude and the accompanying Fairy Jade in the Wind can be played with only the third string lowered (see further). On the other hand, the modal characteristics of both the prelude and the melody seem to be somewhat different from most melodies played in lowered third string tuning, as discussed under Shenpin Biyu Yi (in particular the tracing chart).

According to my analysis, modal characteristics are largely determined by the end notes of the individual phrases, especially the last notes of sections and the melody itself. As for the Jade Lady modal preface and its related titled melody, many phrases end on re and sol but the melodies themselves, after seeming to come to a resolution on do, then go on to end on la or la over mi.5

There is further comment on the modality under Xianpei Ying Feng.

Original preface

None (but see Xian Pei Ying Feng)

One section
Played together with Xian Pei Ying Feng (聽 Listen)

  1. (No title)
      harmonic coda

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Yu Nü Mode (玉女意 Yu Nü Yi)
21296.29 玉女 yunü gives many meanings; there are also entries through 21296.38, two of which connect with poetry or music. The most significant early reference is the one in the Chu Ci poem 惜誓 Xi Shi (Sorrow for Troth Betrayed; see Hawkes, p. 240, Penguin edition):

The sun and moon served me for carriage-awning;
I carried Jade Girls at the back of my chariot.

Hawkes adds (footnote, p. 242), "The Jade Girls or Jade Women were star spirits, ethereal beings of great beauty and dazzling whiteness who feature a good deal in Taoist mythology."

Other significant early references to Yu Nü are in the Yuefu Shiji Wangzi Qiao poems (see especially p.438).

2. Lower first and third strings
In the yunü modal prelude there is no harmonic or open string note played on the first string. In the third phrase the first string is stopped at the 10th position. To play this without lowering the first string, for this note simply stop the first string at the 11th position. Adjustments in the main melody, Xianpei Yingfeng, are similar.

4. Jade Lade and Wei Furen
Jonathan Chaves sent me the following story and comment during an exchange we had about traditional methods of pairing lyrics and music.

Speaking strictly, I find that there are various compounds that seem to muddle the boundaries between chanting and singing. One would be "yin-chang 吟唱". This term occurs in poetry and in prose texts of various kinds and seems to be able to convey either one.

There is an intriguing passage in the hagiography of the renowned female Taoist practitioner, Wei Furen (Lady Wei) by Cai Wei of the Tang Dynasty (魏夫人傳 by 唐蔡偉). Wei Furen received a visitation by a delegation of four Taoist saints who invited her to Heaven and eventually conferred upon her several secret initiations and texts. In course of the visit to Heaven, "四真吟唱,各命玉女彈琴、擊鐘、吹簫,合節而發歌 The Four Saints chant-sung, ordering the Jade Ladies each to play the qin, strike the bell, and play the xiao flute respectively, while they (the Saints) gave forth with a song in time with the music...." This serves as an introduction to the ceremony in which they initiate her.

This may be nothing more than a use of yin-chang to mean "sing" but it could also include the element of chanting, as here they might be reciting the words of Taoist hymns.

For me a basic question is how strictly one should interpret "合節 in time with", and whether this is different when "singing" or "chanting".

Professor Chaves then added the following concerning the image of Jade Ladies:

When Jade Ladies appear, it is often as attendants and musicians at the courts of Taoist saints and deities in Heaven. Their situation is conjured beautifully by Ming critic, scholar and poet himself, Hu Yinglin 胡應麟 (1551-1602) in his Music Bureau poem, Shengtian xing, as follows:


Ballad of Ascending Heaven
Nine Provinces? No home of mine!
Five Sacred Peaks? Not worth living there!
A leap and a bound, I tread the floating clouds,
Gazing all about, 10,000 miles and more!
Morning, I journey to the top of the Himalayas,
Evening, rest on the shores of Paradise Sea.
I raise my eyes, see the Three Mountain-Isles of the Immortals,
City-walls, towers twisting, snaking around.
Roundtop Mount surges upwards on back of the cosmic tortoise,
Square-Jug Isle is carried by the Divine Fish!
Then, westward, to visit the Queen Mother,
Who serves me wine, sets in motion her Heavenly kitchen!
Magic Girl pours the golden brew,
Jade Women play the mouth organ and ocarina.
And before the banquet has come to an end,
I fly up, up, to the Vast Emptiness!
There, in dragon-drawn chariot, I knock on the Jade Tower’s gates,
And out soars a phoenix-team with spirit-banner fluttering.
A deep bow, and I inquire after the Yellow Emperor,
Bend down to enter the Emperor’s carriage, prepared for me.
Brilliant cloud-bands are my jewelled ornaments,
Pure-silk rainbow robes are my suit.
Floating, floating, goodbye to the dusty world!
10,000 years are the same as a split second.

Shengtian Xing is the title of a well-known Music Bureau poem about visiting Taoist heavens. Jade Ladies are often musicians, but are not usually depicted playing the qin (though old mural paintings are often rather vague in their depictions of music instruments.)

5. Determining tonal centers
Since these tonal centers are defined largely by the notes that end phrases, whereas the tablature here includes no punctuation, the present interpretation of the modality must be considered as tentative.

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