RIT U AL M U S I C O F T H E C H U K I N G DO M Liu Yang – TAASA Review March 2011


This article was originally found in the March 2011 edition of TAASA Review (Volume 20, Issue 1, Page 4).

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The bells and drums sound in harmony; The sounding stones and flutes blend their notes; Abundant blessing is sent down.

Blessing is sent down in large measure; Careful and exact is all our deportment; We have drunk, and we have eaten, to the full; Our happiness and dignity will be prolonged. (`Zhijing’ in the Shijing or Book of Odes) T hus ends the account of an ancestor worship ceremony in an ode collected in the Shijing (Book of Odes), the earliest anthology of Chinese poetry, written in the Western Zhou dynasty (c8th century BCE).

This ode underscores the significance of music in ancient Chinese ancestor worship, a practice that was based on the belief that life continued after death, and that there was reciprocity between the deceased and living kin. The history of music in the region today known as China can be traced through the archaeological discovery of instruments dating to as early as the Neolithic period...