Dialogue of the Fisherman and the Woodcutter

While this melody is quite ancient, even by the time it appeared in print in 1559, Dialogue of the Fisherman and the Woodcutter 漁樵問答 remains a popular tune in today’s guqin repertoire.

Two popular motifs are intertwined in this piece. The title clearly underscores Daoist themes—that one gains special knowledge by immersion in nature, in the world of the fisherman and the woodcutter. Here, Daoist ideals emerge: simplicity, humility, moderation, naturalness, action without action, and detachment.

In an essay by Shao Yong 邵雍, the Woodcutter encounters the Fisherman, sets down his load of firewood, sits on a large boulder, and strikes up a conversation. After small talk about their livelihood, the two discuss cosmology, the yin and the yang, knowledge, philosophy, and worldview.

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