“You qu” (tender songs), or written as “Xi qu” (refined songs), also known as Kun tunes mainly encompasses songs of Kun Opera and popular songs during the Ming and Qing times. The delicate circumflex tones of You qu is so close to Kun Tunes that some folk musicians confuse it with Kun Opera.
This article intends to clarify relations between the “minor songs” of You qu and the Ming and Qing folksongs, and the “major songs” and Kun Opera.
Among the “minor songs”, the most common used song set is “Bipoyu”, “Tongsheng ge”, and “Suangdiecui”. By comparing You qu collections in Taiwan with sources provided in this article, especially the early Qing collection Wanhua xiaoqu and波多野太郎’s collection scores Qingyue qupai yapu, I would like to demonstrate the connection of You qu in Taiwan and folksongs in the Ming and Qing times.
Whether the “major song” of You qu is a song or a song set? What is its origin? Apparently these subjects remain untouched. According to careful examination of 40 sets of the “major songs” in Dianxin juzai and scores of Kun Opera, 23 song sets of You qu are similar, if not the same, to Kun Tunes. Moreover, a table that contrasts song sets “Zui Han”, “Dian hui”, and “Liuyue feishuang” with the scores and libretto of Kun Tunes will be helpful to explain the relations between the “major songs” and Kun Tunes.