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history of chinese music






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History of Chinese Music - Page 1
This is the body of vocal and instrumental music composed and played by the Chinese
people. For several thousand years Chinese culture was dominated by the teachings of the
philosopher Confucius, who conceived of music in the highest sense as a means of calming
the passions and of dispelling unrest and lust, rather than as a form of amusement.
The ancient Chinese belief that music is meant not to amuse but to purify one's thoughts
finds particular expression in the cult of the qin, a long zither possessing a repertory calling
for great subtlety and refinement in performance and still popular among a small circle of
scholar-musicians. A famous Qin scholar once said, "Though the qin player's body be in a
gallery or in a hall, his mind should dwell with the forests and streams."
Also, traditionally the Chinese have believed that sound influences the harmony of the
universe. Significantly, one of the most important duties of the first emperor of each new
dynasty was to search out and establish that dynasty's true standard of pitch. A result of this
philosophical orientation was that until quite recently the Chinese theoretically opposed
music performed solely for entertainment; accordingly, musical entertainers were relegated
to an extremely low social status.
Melody and tone color are prominent expressive features of Chinese music, and great
emphasis is given to the proper articulation and inflection of each musical tone. Most
Chinese music is based on the five-tone, or pentatonic, scale, but the seven-tone, or
heptatonic, scale, is also used, often as an expansion of a basically pentatonic core. The
pentatonic scale was much used in older music. The heptatonic scale is often encountered in
northern Chinese folk music.
Chinese music
Origins and Characteriscs
Chinese music can be traced back as far as the third millennium B.C. Manuscripts and instruments from
the early periods of its history are not extant, however, because in 212 B.C., Shih Huang- of the Ch'in
dynasty caused all the books and instruments to be destroyed and the pracce of music to be stopped.
Certain outlines of ancient Chinese music have nevertheless been ascertained. Of primary signi&cance is
the fact that the music and philosophy of China have always been inseparably bound; musical theory and
form have been invariably symbolic in nature and remarkably stable through the ages. Ancient Chinese
hymns were slow and solemn and were accompanied by very large orchestras. Chamber music was also
highly developed. Chinese opera originated in the 14th cent. as a serious and re&ned art.

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Awesome! Perfect study aid.