Qiujiang Yebo
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09. Autumn River Night Anchorage
- Shang mode, standard tuning: 2 5 6 1 2 3 5 6, but played as 1 2 4 5 6 1 2
Qiujiang Yebo 1
Hanshan Bell Resounds 3   
This title occurs for the first time in Songxianguan Qinpu (1614); it then survives in 27 handbooks from 1614 to the present.4 It has thus for a long time been a rather popular melody which has undergone gradual change over the years.

In addition, the melody is clearly related to an earlier melody called Yin De, which can be found in four handbooks from 1425 to 1585 and once again in 1670. Virtually the same as Yin De is the melody Chumu Yin (Shepherd's Chant), found as a prelude to Mu Ge in Taiyin Xupu (1559) and Qinpu Zhengchuan (1561).5

Zha Fuxi's indices list only one of 27 handbooks containing Qiujiang Yebo as having any commentary, Qinxue Rumen, which begins as follows,6

As for this melody, its notes are ancient and vast, one must follow along in its relaxed pace to get this; each phrase by itself does not suffice to realize this....

If I understand this correctly it seems to be saying the beauty of this melody is in its totality, not in each separate part.

On the other hand the version in Mei'an Qin Handbook (originally 1931; see in chart) is a related melody, but the 1959 edition gives a completely different explanation. It says Qiujiang Yebo depicts musically the whole of Su Dongpo's 11th century poem Red Cliff Rhapsody #1, beginning with casting off the boat, followed by punting and loud singing in section two (second half of Yin De section one); hoisting sails and approaching mid-stream in the next section; and further singing, descriptions of the scenery, lowering the sails and re-anchoring in the last section.

Given these two comments, it is not clear what the source is for the story that introduces a recording of the melody published in 1995. This commentary suggests that Qiujiang Yebo was created extemporaneously around 1600 during a visit to the famous Hanshan (Cold Mountain) Temple in Suzhou.7

According to tradition while Yan Tianchi and friends of the Qinchuan Society were visiting Cold Mountain Temple one evening, based on the poem Maple Bridge Night Anchorage by Zhang Ji of the Tang Dynasty, (Yan) calmly created8 this melody.

It was Zhang Ji's poem, included in the collection 300 Tang Poems, that made Maple Bridge famous. The actual words, however, cannot be paired to the present music using the traditional method for pairing lyrics and music with the guqin.9

As the moon goes down a raven calls,10 frost fills the sky.
Riverside maples and the fires of fishermen enter my restless sleep.
Just then beyond the walls of Suzhou, at the Cold Mountain Temple,
The midnight bell rings, and (the sound) reaches my boat.

Other translations include those by Witter Bynner (A Night-Mooring near Maple Bridge) and Cai Zong-Qi (Nightly Mooring at the Maple Bridge)

Three of the four versions of Yin De are virtually identical to each other, and Chumu Yin is almost the same as these. This perhaps indicates it was a melody being passed down through its tablature, rather than by active play. One might then theorize that Yan had played from the earlier tablature, and that his inspiration at the Cold Mountain Temple led him to transform this material enough that he gave it a new name.

Qiujiang Yebo has four sections, dividing them as in Chumu Yin, which broke Yin De Section 1 into two sections. Each section of Qiujiang Yebo then begins the same as the corresponding part of Yin De, except that section one of Yin De opens with a dayuan putting the thumb on the 8th position of the fourth string, while Qiujiang Yebo puts the thumb on the 7th position. The latter part of each section also follows similar contours.

The change of modality between Qiujiang Yebo and the earlier Yin De is even more notable. Yin De (as well as Chumu Yin) and Qiuqiang Yebo are both said to be in the shang mode. As with other shang mode pieces they both have do (1) as the fundamental tone, but in Yin De (and Chumu Yin) mi is sometimes flatted, sometimes not. In the 1614 Qiujiang Yebo mi is never flatted, instead in some passages mi flat is changed to fa. In Dahuan'ge Qinpu even more so in later handbooks there is neither mi flat nore fa, leaving only the unchanged mi.11

Chongxiu Zhenchuan Qinpu (1585; see chart) attributes Yin De to the famous 13th century qin player Mao Minzhong. No other handbook has an attribution for either Yin De or Qiujiang Yebo.

There is no other recording of Yin De. However, in addition to my own (Listen 聽), there are numerous recordings of Qiujiang Yebo, though mostly of later versions.12

Original Preface
None 13

Music (See transcription; timings follow 聽 my recording)
Four sections (compare Yin De)14

(00.00)   1.  
(00.38)   2.  
(01.05)   3.  
(01.46)   4.  
(02.26)     Harmonics
(02.41)     End

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. 秋江夜泊 Qiujiang Yebo
25505.69 only 秋江 Qiu Jiang

2. Shang mode (商調 Shang Diao)
See Shenpin Shang Yi as well as further comments above

3. Image: The Hanshan Bell Resounds (寒山鐘聲 Hanshan Zhong Sheng)
Quite a few famous calligraphers have written out these four characters, which are paraphrased from a famous poem by 張繼 Zhang Ji, the original text (below) of which is written to the right and left of the four large characters, followed by "張繼楓橋夜泊 Zhang Ji, Maple Bridge Night Mooring", then 壬午年山石於寒山寺.

4. Tracing Qiu Jiang Yebo
The chart below is based on Zha Fuxi's index 30/236/--. Could Qiujiang Yebo (or something like it) have been the original name, one which Zhu Quan rejected? Some handbooks call the piece 秋江晚波 Qiujiang Wanbo, and 徽言秘旨 Huiyan Mizhi (1647) mistakenly calls it 秋江晚釣 Qiujiang Wandiao (Autumn River Night Fishing), which is correctly the title of another piece in 8 sections. The connection between Qiujiang Yebo and Yin De was pointed out to me by Mitchell Clark. There are no other recordings of Yin De but several are available of Qiujiang Yebo.

5. 芻牧吟 Chumu Yin (prelude to Mu Ge)
Details are under Yin De.

6. Qinxue Rumen Afterword (XXIV/317
Zha Fuxi copies only the opening sentence. He also changes the last character. This is what he has on p. 236:


This is what is actually in the Qinxue Rumen edition published in QQJC XXIV/318 :


The latter part continues with technical descriptions such as here.

7. Recording by 劉正春 Liu Zhengchun; see The Art of Qin Music, Hugo HRP 7136-2
The English translation of the commentary with this recording has some mistakes. The Chinese original is,


This connection is also made in 古琴曲集 Guqin Quji, Vol 1, but there is no indication where it comes from. The CD preface also says "the tune and rhythm of the piece is very old, one should appreciate the content slowly, and never hurry at any note." This comes from Qinxue Rumen (1864). The only other handbook with commentary is apparently Mei'an Qinpu (see below).

8. "Create" (譜 pu)
See in Glossary: the use of "pu" as a verb is not clearly defined. Besides "create" it could also mean simply to write down something that was already created.

9. Zhang Ji: Maple Bridge Night Anchorage (張繼,楓橋夜泊)
Also: Maple Bridge Night Mooring. The original Chinese for this poem is:


Sun Daolin recites this poem on the Hugo CD Appreciation of Tang Poetry Quatrains, Vol.I.

10. For another mention of a raven (crow) calling see Wu Ye Ti.

11. Changes in shang mode characteristics
I discovered these changes in shang mode characteristics, and wrote about them on this website, in 2002 while preparing three "new" Songxianguan Qinpu melodies for a conference held in that in Suzhou in honor of Yan Cheng, considered the founder of the Yushan School.

The chart under Yin De has further comments on the mode. It is interesting to compare these changes with the what happened in the development of Yu Qiao Wenda around the same time.

12. Other recordings
For example, six historical recordings are included in Sitong Shenpin. Of these the one by 黃雪輝 Huang Xuehui seems close to the 1614 version though a few non-pentatonic notes have been changed.

13. Preface
The only preface listed in Zha's Guide is from Qinxue Rumen (1864; see above).

14. Music
The timings here follow my recording.

Appendix: Chart Tracing Qiujiang Yebo / Yin De
See under 隱德
Yin De

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