Acoustics in Chinese Culture

  • Chen Cheng‐Yih
Reference work entry
A sound is perceived in terms of its pitch, loudness, and tone quality characteristics. The Chinese term for pitch is yīn lü or simply . Early mentions of pitch in connection to its function in ode singing, in musicology, and in the standardization of measures and weights are found in the Yú Shū ( The Book of Yú). The Chinese used the terms qīng (clear) and zhuó (muddy) to describe, respectively, the high and low pitches. In remonstrating the decision of the High King J ĭng of Zhōu to have the Wǔ‐Yì bell melted down and converted into the Dà‐līn bell of lower pitch, minister Shan Mū Gōng stated in 522 BCE:

The ear functions harmoniously within a certain range of high and low pitches. The determination of this pitch‐range should not be left for individuals. For this reason bells constructed by our ancient kings never exceeded their corresponding size in jūn (unit) and weight in dàn (unit). This is where the specifications of measures and weights for pitches originated.

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg New York 2008

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  • Chen Cheng‐Yih

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