Posted by: musicnarts | December 5, 2011

Music and Art of China

China provides some of the earliest traces of music making. These are mainly in the form of well-preserved musical instruments, the tangible evidence of music. Over several millennia, musical instruments from regional indigenous traditions as well as from India and Central and West Asia were assimilated into the mainstream of Chinese music. Some of the most ancient instruments have been retained, transformed, or revived throughout the ages and many are in common use even today, testifying to a living legacy of a durable art. This legacy is frequently celebrated in the visual arts of China, documenting rituals and celebrations, or as status symbols of those whose lives were enhanced by the resonate sounds of instruments made from hide, clay, metal, stone, gourd, wood, silk, and bamboo.

 Archaeological Evidence of Musical Instruments
Eight thousand years ago, people in central China delighted to the airy timber of tonally precise flutes. Made from the wing bones of red-crowned cranes, these remarkable Neolithic end-blown flutes, the world’s oldest playable instruments, are witnesses to a dynamic musical tradition that was astonishingly sophisticated both acoustically and musically. Unearthed in Jiahu, Henan Province, in 1986 and preserved in the Henan Provincial Museum, Zhengzhou, the flutes, known as gudi, possess five to eight perfectly spaced and fastidiously drilled fingerholes. These rare instruments clearly document the maker’s hand in applying acoustic accuracy in the service of music. It is believed that the flutes played a role in ritual as music was often connected to cosmology and the stability of the state.

In the period between 3,500 and 2,000 years ago, Chinese rulers constructed elaborate tombs containing weapons, vessels, and remains of servants and, in some cases, full ensembles of musical instruments such as stone chimes (known today as qing), ovoid clay ocarinas (xun,2005.14), and drums. In addition to these instruments, Shang-dynasty finds (ca. 1600–ca. 1066 B.C.) include beautifully decorated dual-toned bronze bells with and without clappers (ling and nao49.136.10), barrel-shaped drums (gu), and bronze drums. Hints as to the use of these instruments were inscribed on small pieces of bone (oracle bones) dating from the fourteenth to the twelfth century B.C. These pictographs make reference to ritual dance and music and those depicting instruments are easily equated with modern Chinese characters.

By: Google.com
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