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Chinese Music 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 ones thoughts finds particular expression in the cult of the qin chin 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 players 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 dynastys 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 musical instruments traditionally have been classified according to the materials used in their construction namely metal stone silk bamboo gourd clay skin and wood Of these the stone and wood instruments are obsolete The older instruments include long zithers flutes panpipes
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