While this is one of the most ancient of guqin tunes, it is also one of the most popular in today’s repertoire. Wine Madness 酒狂 dates from the third century and is attributed to the poet Ruan Ji 阮籍, who was one of the seven sages of Bamboo Grove. His father, Ruan Yu 阮瑀, studied qin as well and served under the famous official Cao Cao 曹操 of the Three Kingdoms. Ruan Ji himself tried to avoid public office.
The triplet rhythm is an interpretation of Yao Bingyan 姚丙炎 when he transcribed it from the original tablature, which was without rhythm indication.
Many versions exist, but the basic lyrics are evocative of scholarly refinement, where the literary class drink in a different manner than those of the drunken masses. “The whole world’s drunk, all except me. Give me a brew, from strife I’m free.”