CHINESE MUSIC HISTORY


The origins of Chinese music can be dated back to distant antiquity. Approximately 3000 years ago, European music was experiencing its first rustlings of life whereas a complete musical theory and sophisticated musical instruments began to appear in China, owing largely to the orthodox ritual music advocated by Confucius. By the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. - 220 A.D.), the imperial court had set up a Music bureau which was in charge of gathering and editing ancient tunes and folk songs. Because of commercial contacts China had with Central Asia, foreign music entered the country in the form, for example, of the Pipa, or lute, and the hu-qin, a vertically held violin. Composers of this time modified and improved Chinese music because the foreign originating music influenced them to do so. By the time of the Tang Dynasty (713 - 755 A.D.) the court organised the Pear Garden Academy song and dance troupe which cultivated a large number of musicians, this then laid a firm foundation for Chinese music. Traditionally the Chinese have believed that sound influences the harmony of the universe. Until quite recently the Chinese theoretically opposed music performed solely for entertainment, accordingly, musical entertainers were relegated to an extremely low social status.

Chinese music is the body of vocal and instrumental music composed and played by Chinese people. For several thousands of 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.

Melody and tone are prominent expressive features of Chinese music, and great emphasis is given to the proper articulation and inflection of each musical tone.

Chinese musical instruments have been classified according to the materials used in their construction, namely, metal, stone, silk, bamboo, gourd, clay, skin and wood. The older instruments include long zithers, flutes, panpipes, the sheng, or mouth organ and percussion instruments, such as clappers, drums and gongs. Of later origin are various lutes and fiddles introduced to China from Central Asia.


Other useful links


Instruments - Information of typical traditional Chinese instruments.
Productions - Information of CPP Music Productions
Music on demand - Information of our UK based performance groups
Tang Studio - Chinatown music studio
Pay to download - visit music "pay to download" page
Compositions - Music compositions from CPP Music Productions
FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions of traditional Chinese music and production