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About "Jizuki-Uta"

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Title in English: "Workmen's Song"

History

“Jizuki-Uta” is a work song.  According to Rudolf Dittrich, it might be sung by a team of men driving piles.  However, the text shows that the song is about rice cultivation.  Dittrich provides a beautiful illustration (reproduced on this page) of men driving piles. 

Text

In his 1894 song collection, Rudolf Dittrich gives the following lyrics, in Japanese, German, and English.

JIZUKI-UTA

Pile Driving Click to enlarge (442kb)

ONDOTORI:
Kimi ga ta to
Waga ta wo narase,
Aze narase:

NINSOKU:
Tani no nagare de
Kame asobu.

ERDARBEITER-LIED

(Beim Einrammen von Pfählen oder Steinen)

DER VORARBEITER SINGT:
Lasst uns unsere Felder bearbeiten,
Die Raine ausbessern:

CHOR DER ARBEITER:
Dort im murmelnden Thalbach
Vergnügt sich die Schildkröte.

WORKMEN'S SONG

(In driving piles or stones.)

THE FOREMAN SINGS:
Let us till our fields,
Repair the ridges:

CHORUS OF WORKMEN:
There in the murmuring brook in the dale
The turtle is disporting himself.

Remarks

Measures 17-18 Measures 17-18 of Dittrich's arrangement of Jizuki-Uta

"Jizuki-Uta" appears in Giocomo Puccini's opera Madama Butterfly. Musicologist Kunio Hara deserves credit for elucidating it's role among Puccini's sources.  Parts of "Jizuki-Uta" occur in three places in the opera:

  1. A two-bar fragment (measures 17-18 in Dittrich's piano arrangement) occurs in the middle of the famous aria "Un bel di" (II.13.15-19).
  2. Puccini uses measures 3-13 twice during Butterfly's aria "Che tua Madre", in which she explains that she would rather die than become a geisha again.  The tune is played by the orchestra and sung by Butterfly.  Kunio Hara points out that "Che tua Madre" is constructed entirely from "Jizuki-Uta" and two other songs, "Kappore-Honen" and "Suiryo-Bushi".
  3. Measures 17-18 occur again, interposed twice between Pinkerton's cries of "Butterfly" at end of the opera!

For a list of Puccini's Japanese songs and where they occur in the opera, see Japanese Songs in Puccini's Madama Butterfly on this website.

References

Dittrich, Rudolf, Nippon Gakufu (“Six Japanese Popular Songs collected and arranged for the Pianoforte”), Breitkopf and Härtel, Leipzig, 1894.

Hara, Kunio, Puccini's Use of Japanese Melodies in Madama Butterfly, Master's thesis, University of Cincinnati, 2003.  Download from http://www.ohiolink.edu/etd/send-pdf.cgi?ucin1060955367 [Large pdf file, 3MB].

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