History of Music in China

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Nicole SirotaPlotnikov
March 20, 2012
Dr. Astolfi
Development of Music in China

Despite what language you speak, or what country you are from there is one language that every single person can comprehend. This language is known as music. Music has developed into multiple different forms and tells a wide range of differing stories. The development of music itself is a story that is interwoven with the history of a region. Culture and society can be explained through the analysis and development of their music. good thesis music and myth seem to be the universal constants

Music has played a more prominent role in the development of certain societies. In Chinese society there has always been an emphasis on the importance of music. Evidence indicates that a well-developed musical culture existed in China as early as the Zhou Dynasty (1075-221 B.C.). It seems that “every feudal state, dynasty and republic throughout Chinese history had established an official musical organization or bureau of music” (Liang 87).

There are numerous instruments that are prominent in classical Chinese music. Many of which can be dated back to the earliest dynasties of China. Many of these instruments have evolved over time and still exist in a modern form. In a classical Chinese Orchestra there are four sections. These sections are: the bowed strings, the plucked strings, the winds and the percussion. Each dynasty contributed different forms of instruments to the growing collection of instruments in use. During the Sui dynasty there was a distinction made over which instruments are better for outdoor performance and instruments better for indoor performances. Excellent and useful description

During the Qin (221 B.C- 207 B.C) and Han (206 B.C- 220 A.D.) dynasties a multitude of instruments were created and introduced to the royal court. Zithers, panpipes, vessel flutes and bells were all new instruments introduced during this period of time. Zithers are rectangular, plucked instruments that create a sound similar to a violin. Panpipes and vessel flutes are both members of the winds family and bells are a percussion instrument that are stuck with metal mallets to produce a note. During this time period foreign instruments were also introduced to China. The most important of these instruments were the end-blown di flute, the double-reed oboe and the plucked pipa lute. This period provided a plethora of instruments that could be mastered and further developed to create new instruments. Referen ce

From the end of the Han Dynasty to 589 A.D “China was no longer a unified empire and in its place reigned a number of contending kingdoms and states, the majority of which hardly ruled for more than fifty years before being overthrown by another faction” (History of China). China was re-united under the Sui dynasty in 581. The Sui had a short lived rule and were followed by the Tang dynasty. During the Tang dynasty China experienced a long period of economic, political and cultural growth. Foreign musicians were enticed by the brilliant capital center and growing sophistication of Tang China. Under the Tang the first music academy, Liyuan, “was instituted for performance and training of professional young musicians” (Liang 90). During the Tang dynasty, Yanyue began to overshadow the tradition banquet music that had been in use since the Zhou dynasty. And do you see a cultural meaning here?

Yanyue is elegant and refined music; it was the music of the aristocracy. Yanyue was “a court musical performance for the nobles and gentries during a state function and during days of festivity” (Development of Chines Music). I tried correcting the spelling on Chinese in prior () but to no avail - Yanyue was only one of ten musical divisions that had developed during the Tang dynasty. These divisions where call the shibu ji. The division was made created by the different regional and international styles that were part of Chinese music. However, into the...
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