CHINA – OUTLINE
The Power of Music
Transcendent: harmony in the heavens, nature, ancestors, and living humans
“If the bells are wrong, the state is wrong”
Order, peace, happiness, or war, chaos
The word means: music, dancing, pantomime, poetry, and pleasure
Monophony vs Polyphony
“Under the effects of music, the five social duties are without admixture [society works
better], the eyes and ears are clear, the blood and vital energies are balanced [the body
works better], habits are reformed [individuals work better], customs are improved, and
the empire is at complete peace [state works better].”
Yo Ki (
Memorial of Music
“Traditional music and dance perfectly embody the humaneness and wisdom of their
composers, who understood perfectly the order of the world and of heaven; one can
create within oneself this wisdom by properly performing this music and dance.”
- A good example of a stone instrument is the
, which is a set of L-
shaped stones, sometimes jade, of different quantities and sizes.
The stones hang from a
stand and are struck with a special hammer. They are played only at court and during
religious ceremonies. This is one of the two instruments we know that Confucius played.
- Includes bells,
(cymbals) as well as trumpets made of metal.
- Refers to the stringed instruments. The stringed instruments can be further divided
into two categories: the bowed strings (like the
) and the plucked strings (such as the
, a long, seven-stringed zither, sometimes called a lute).
- the majority of woodwind instruments are made from bamboo. Examples
include the dizi (flute), suona (trumpet).
- This section includes a large variety of small percussion instruments including
wooden blocks, boxes and xylophones with wooden blocks. The “tiger box” is played by
rubbing the surface. These instruments are used during religious ceremonies, including
the Confucian memorial ceremonies, which try to replicate the instruments of the Zhou
dynasty when Confucius lived.
- Drums are often covered with different types of animal skins along the top or
(mouth organ), one of the oldest Chinese instruments, is made out of a
hollowed-out pumpkin-like vegetable. It consists of a wind-chest and as many as 24
bamboo pipes set in a circle; it is played by sucking in the breath at the top of a pipe,
while the sound comes out of the gourd body. The sheng is believed to imitate the sound
of the mythical bird, the phoenix.