Mu Ge
 T of C 
Qin as
Qin in
/ Song
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Herdsman's Song
- or: Shepherd's Song; also, the prelude 芻牧吟 Chumu Yin 2
- Shangjue mode: standard tuning played as 1 2 4 5 6 1 2 3
Mu Ge 1
  Tang Yin: Riding an Ox across a Field4  
Versions of this melody survive in 13 handbooks from 1559 to 1876 (see the appendix below). Many of these same handbooks also include Ploughman's Song. The themes of these two can perhaps be compared with those of the Fisherman's Song and Woodcutter's Song:5 together these four are the "four occupations" (Si Ye). However, the depictions of these, coming from the literati class, attribute to these workers characteristics more prized by the literati than perhaps by the workmen themselves. Thus, in the image at right the "herdsman" is reading from the classics as he rides on the ox.

The earliest two versions of the Herdsman's Song, dated 1559 and 1561, are virtually identical. They are also the only two versions with a prelude, Chumu Yin. However, Chumu Yin is almost identical to the Yin De in Shen Qi Mi Pu (1425).6

The only original commentaries accompany the versions dated 1559 and 1812. The 1559 preface makes reference to mu min, which can mean both "herdman" and "govern the people".7 This connection is found as early as the book Guanzi, which has a chapter called Mu Min.8

Some of the melodic motifs of Song of the Herdsman seem to have been incorporated later into the melody Mozi Sing with Feeling (see comment below under 1812).

Melody reconstruction not completed and fuurther commentary not yet prepared.

Original Preface10
(Not yet translated; its seems to specify that the herdsman can be herding either sheep or cattle)

18 sections (untitled)

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. 牧歌 Mu Ge

Image searches for "牧圖" almost exclusively show oxen. For "shepherd" modern dictionaries have 牧羊人; see 20418.24 牧羊: 飼養, with reference to 史記,項羽 the biography of Xiang Yu in the Shi Ji.

2. Chumu Yin (Shepherd's Chant)
This melody is virtually identical to Yin De in Shen Qi Mi Pu (1425), so further details have been put in a footnote there; it is thus also closely related to the later Qiujiang Ye Bo. (Return)

3. Shangjue mode (商角調 shangjue diao)
For more on this mode see Shenpin Shangjue Yi. The mode here is named at end; 1590 says it is 商 shang mode (the mode of Yin De). Assigned relative notes: 1=do, 2=re, etc. In my transcription do is written as c, but the exact pitch depends on such things as the size and quality of the instrument and strings.

4. 明·唐寅 《葑田行犊图 Tang Yin: Riding an Ox across a Field
唐寅畫作,取材於李密騎牛於緱山訪名士包愷的故事。畫中老者手執長鞭,騎著老牛悠然前行。其上有詩雲: 「騎犢歸來繞葑田,角端輕掛漢編年。無人解得悠悠意,行過松陰懶著鞭。」頗為自得。
Tang Yin's painting perhaps suggests a scholar in the guise of a herdsman; the accompanying poem could perhaps also be a song. The painting is based on the story of Li Mi (582–619; Wiki) riding an ox on Mount Feng to visit the famous scholar Bao Kai, who was visiting there. In the painting, the old man holds a long whip and rides an old ox leisurely forward (barely visible are documents hanging from a horn). The poem inscribed on the (right side of the) painting says, "Riding a calf and circling the turnip field, hanging lightly from were Han Annals (which I read so as not to waste time). No one understood the long term meaning, walking through the shade of the pines, whipping lazily." This was quite complacent.

The painting, apparently in the Shanghai Museum, was copied from here.

5. For these four occupations see a footnote under Geng Ge.

6. The opening, third, fifth and 7th notes are sol instead of mi, and several notes are missing, perhaps by accident. The melody appears again later in a revised form as Qiu Jiang Yebo.

7. 牧民 Mu Min 4782.8

8. 管子 Guanzi
The book Guanzi is named after Master Guan (d, 645 BCE), Prime Minister of Duke Huan of Qi.

10. Original 1559 prefaces:

For 芻牧吟 Chumu Yin:

For 牧歌 Mu Ge:

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

Appendix: Chart Tracing 牧歌 Mu Ge and 芻牧吟 Chumu Yin
based mainly on Zha Fuxi's Guide, 18/177/-- (for both)

    (year; Vol/page)
Further information
(QQJC = 琴曲集成 Qinqu Jicheng; QF = 琴府 Qin Fu)
  1. 太音續譜
      (1559; III/426)
18 sections; mode not named at front, but statement at end says, "play shangjue modal prelude"
Preceded by 芻牧吟 Chumu Yin; both have commentary
  2. 琴譜正傳
      (1561; II/515)
18; virtually identical to 1559 but no commentary
Also preceded by 芻牧吟 Chumu Yin; not in 1546
  3. 琴書大全
      (1590; V/485)
11; 商 Shang mode; no prelude or commentary
It combines sections; otherwise it is quite similar to the above
  4. 文會堂琴譜
      (1596; VI/259)
18; 商角 Shangjue mode
Still quite similar, but somewhat expanded
  5. 藏春塢琴譜
      (1602; VI/333)
18; 商 Shang mode
Still related, but greatly expanded
  6. 徽言秘旨
      (1647; X/128c)
18; (商角); no prelude or preface
  7. 徽言秘旨訂
      (1692; X)
should be identical to 1647
  8. 自遠堂琴譜
      (1802; XVII/363)
18; (徵音 Zhi mode); no preface or prelude
  9. 裛露軒琴譜
      (>1802; ?)
(18; 商角, but Zha's guide, p. 141, describes it as 徵音秘旨)
10. 小蘭琴譜
      (1812; ?)
13; (商音); "神品...即墨子悲絲" (same as Mozi Bei Si! See also under Ricci)
No prelude, but an afterword (Guide/177): 逍遙如在潁濱之曲、箕山之陰,無異於巢父之風也。
11. 悟雪山房琴譜
黃鐘均宮音; 18 plus a 收音 shou yin
12. 天聞閣琴譜
18; 徵音; from 1802