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Western Zhou Bell Music in Texts and Archaeology

Haicheng Wang tells the stories of the ancient bronze bell sets unearthed in recent years.

November 15, 2007 12:00am

Thursday, November 15, 2007
TIME: 4:00 PM

Lampo Leong, Art Dept. Chair, University of Missouri-Columbia

This workshop is being held in conjunction with the exhibit, "Forces: Paintings and Calligraphy by Lampo Leong," which is showing from September 17 - December 14, 2007 at the IEAS Gallery, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor, UC Berkeley.

Chinese classics of the last few centuries BC tell us that in the early first millennium BC Chinese civilization was the exclusive possession of the Zhou empire in north China.  Zhou ritual music, we are told, was pentatonic; south China (i.e. the Yangzi region) was inhabited by barbarians playing strange music.  But the bronze bell sets unearthed in recent years tell a different story. Zhou bell sets play a tetratonic scale.  Moreover the Zhou seem to have obtained their first bells from musically and technologically more sophisticated centers in the south.  The south was home to a civilization unknown to recorded history but increasingly visible in the archaeological record.  Problems involved in reconstructing the history of Zhou music will be addressed.



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