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Japan Handbooks   Hewen   Autumn   1511 Gu Qiu Feng   Li Bai 詞 ci (1709, 1840 & 1931) 聽錄音 hear recording  /首頁
Autumn Wind Ode
- Shang mode:2 1 2 4 5 6 1 2
秋風辭 1
Qiu Feng Ci, 1676
Qiu Feng Ci tablature from 1676 (full) 3              
Qin melodies with an autumn theme include a number of short songs (and modal preludes) on autumn winds.4 The musical settings often seem to be in shang mode;5 what is modally distinctive about this particular melody is the very last note. The idiom for other melodies said to be shang mode earlier in the Ming dynasty always seem to have shang as an important tonal center but still a secondary one: do is the primary tonal center as well as the last note. Here, however, althoug shang is a significant tonal center through out, the buildup to the last note makes one expect it to be do; however, it suddenly changed to shang. Shang thus does not sound like a primary tonal center the way it is with pieces such as those in qiliang mode (also called Chu shang mode), that actually use re as a tonal center. It thus gives the impression that this note was changed to shang with the idea being that shang mode melodies should end on this note. As for the lyrics, they are included in the Yuefu Shiji, as are a number of other related lyrics.6 Such lyrics (examples) used for shang modal preludes are quoted and discussed under Gu Qiu Feng (1511).

The present melody, published in Japan but probably originating in China, has lyrics attributed to Han Wudi; it is the earliest surviving melody using as its main title 秋風辭 Qiu Feng Ci. (Settings of the Li Bai ci lyrics survive only in the unrelated later melodies called 秋風詞 Qiu Feng Ci or 秋風曲 Qiu Feng Qu.)7 The 秋風辭 Qiu Feng Ci published in Hewen Zhuyin Qinpu (1676) is in 商音 shang mode and has lyrics of the same title as in Yuefu Shiji Folio 84, Miscellaneous ballad lyrics 2. The setting also survives in several other Japanese handbooks but they all seem to be the same; the melody itself is thought to have been created by and/or brought to Japan by the Chinese monk Jiang Xingchou.

Regarding the original tablature at right (reference), just before the coda it indicates the repeat by saying "再作 repeat" without specifying what to repeat, but the mark "⎤" before the previous line shows that it is only this last line ("Youth lasts...") that is to be repeated (as indicated by the lyrics in Zha Guide 503; note also that this later edition has the same instructions, using the full form "從⎤再作", but it omits the ⎤ that, as shown in the earlier edition, belongs before the previous line). These instructions could mean that the last line of the poem is sung three times (including its repetition in the coda). However, such directions rarely specify whether the lyrics are to be repeated as well as the music, and to my ears it usually works better to interpret the repetition as referring only to the instrumental line, not to the lyrics.

1676 Preface
None. However, in Yuefu Shiji the lyrics attributed to Han Wudi are introduced as follows:

《漢武帝故事》曰:「帝行幸河東,祠后土。顧視帝京,忻然中流,與群臣飲讌。 帝歡甚,乃自作《秋風辭》。」
"The Precedents of Han Wudi" (thought to date from the 3rd C. CE) says, "The emperor was traveling felicitously east of the (Fen) river, in order to make a sacrifice to Houtu (earth deity). Turning to look at the imperial capital, rejoicing mid-stream, with all his subordinates he drank and feasted. The emperor rejoiced deeply, and thus was created 'Autumn Wind Ode'".

Elsewhere it is apparently added that the emperor became doubtful of this happiness when he contemplated how tentative it all was. (汾水厲辭?)

1676 秋風辭 Qiu Feng Ci Lyrics 9 (timings follow my recording: 聽我的錄音 listen; 看五線譜 see transcription)

00.00   Opening harmonics (copied from closing harmonics)
00.11   Begin
秋 風 起 兮     白 雲 飛。
Qiū fēng qǐ xī bái yún fēi.
Autumn winds rise, white clouds fly,

草 木 黃 落 兮         雁 南 歸。
Cǎo mù huáng luò xī yàn nán guī.
Leaves turn yellow, wild geese return south.

蘭 有 秀 兮     菊 有 芳,
Lán yǒu xiù xī jú yǒu fāng,
Orchids flourish, chrysanthemums are fragrant,

懷 佳 人 兮     不 能 忘。
Huái jiā rén xī bù néng wàng.
I long for my lover, I cannot forget.

汎 樓 船 兮         濟 汾 河,
Fàn lóu chuán xī jì fén hé,
Floating in a grand boat, crossing the Fen River.

橫 中 流 兮         揚 素 波。
Héng zhōng liú xī yáng sù bō.
In midstream, the ripples turn white.

簫 鼓 鳴 兮         發 棹 歌,
Xiāo gǔ míng xī fā zhào gē,
Drum and xiao flute resound, putting forth a rowers' song.

歡 樂 極 兮     哀 情 多,
Huān lè jí xī āi qíng duō,
Pleasure reaches its height, but sad feelings are greater.

少 壯 幾 時 兮       奈 老 何!   (再作)
Shào zhuàng jǐ shí xī nài lǎo hé!
Youth lasts a few moments, then don't we become old!   (repeat this line, melody only)

01.30 泛音 Harmonic coda
Youth lasts a few moments, then don't we become old! (see last line)

01.46 曲終 Melody ends
It ends on 商 shang (re), as do most phrases, hence "shang mode" (more below).

Other English translations include those by Xu Yuanzong, Song of the Immortals, p.20; and Arther Waley, Translations from the Chinese, p.36.

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Autumn Wind Ode by Han Emperor Wu (漢武帝秋風辭 Han Wudi Qiufeng Ci, 1676; XII/177
25505.235 秋風辭 Qiu Feng Ci: 樂府,雜歌謠辭之名,漢武帝作.

Here 辭 ci is translated as "ode" simply to distinguish it from 詞 ci, translated here as "lyrics". There seems to be no actual intrinsic difference in meaning between 辭 and 詞.

Zha Guide indexes 秋風辭 as 34/260/503, mistakenly including the 1840 melody, which for some reason it calls 北風詞 Bei Feng Ci, missing the fact that its real connection is to the later 秋風詞 Qiu Feng Ci, which it indexes as 43/--/--, including only the Mei'an entry.

ZWDCD references for these two titles are:
      25505.235 秋風辭 Qiu Feng Ci: 樂府,雜歌謠辭之名,漢武帝作.
      25505.xxx 秋風詞 Qiu Feng Ci.
See further on this and the melodies of this title in the footnotes to Gu Qiu Feng.

2. Tuning and mode: 商音 shang mode?
For further information on shang mode see Shenpin Shang Yi as well as Modality in early Ming qin tablature. As explained there, the relative tuning should be considered as 1 2 4 5 6 1 2. In the Ming dynasty it was common for the last note of shang mode melodies to be 宮 gong (do), with re and sol both significant secondary tonal centers and with re often a leading tone for do. In Qiu Feng Ci, however, many of the phrases, including the final one, end on shang (re; 2). Earlier in the Ming dynasty this characteristic was found mainly in certain raised fifth string tunings, specifically qiliang and perhaps ruibin (see chart).

Later melodies with autumn wind titles can also be considered as shang mode, but perhaps for other reasons and perhaps not even named as such. For example, the 1840 Qiufeng Ci is in raised fifth string tuning, formerly called ruibin but there called "仲呂調,羽音 zhonglü diao, yu yin". In the Ming dynasty the strings of ruibin melodies were generally considered as tuned to the relative pitches 2 3 5 6 1 2 3, with 6 (yu, i.e., la) 6 as the main tonal center, but they might also be considered as having 2 (re, i.e., shang 2 as the main tonal center. By this understanding such is the case here, as most phrases of the 1840 Qiu Feng Ci end on the note shang, so it, too, is a shang mode melody. However, the handbook itself seems to name the third to seventh open strings as 1 2 3 4 5 (gong shang jue zhi yu): I do not understand that logic. Qiu Feng Ci, the first melody in the handbook and the only one with lyrics, seems also to be the only one which names some of the notes.

As for the 1931 Qiu Feng Ci, to my knowledge its lowered third tuning has never been considered as including shang mode melodies. However, many phrases in this version do end on shang leading down to do, giving it something of a shang feeling.

3. Qiu Feng Ci tablature from 1676 (full)
The tablature in the other handbooks with this title all seems identical.

4. Tracing various qin melodies on the autumn wind theme
In addition to the information on this shang mode chart, see the information with the melodies listed here.

5. Lyrics with other shang modal preludes
These lyrics all quite similar to the lyrics for the 1511 Gu Qiu Feng (further details).

6. Yuefu Shiji autumn wind lyrics
YFSJ has several such poems, including the one by Han Wudi discussed here. Others are listed here under Gu Qiu Feng.

7. In 1525 "秋風辭" was used as an alternate title for a shang modal prelude with different lyrics and melody.

8. Intro used for the Qiu Feng Ci preface
The translation above is tentative and certainly has some mistakes.

9. Autumn Wind Lyrics by Han Emperor Wu (漢武帝秋風辭 Han Wudi Qiufeng Ci
The Chinese lyrics alone are:

秋風起兮     白雲飛,
草木黃落兮 雁南歸。
蘭有秀兮     菊有芳,
懷佳人兮     不能忘。
汎樓船兮     濟汾河,
橫中流兮     揚素波。
簫鼓鳴兮     發櫂歌,
歡樂極兮     哀情多,
少壯幾時兮  奈老何。

Note the structure of the lyrics.

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