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Title: The ancient Chinese arts of the ear : etymology, meteorology, musicology
Authors: Wang, X
Schoenberger, C 
Issue Date: Nov-2019
Source: Journal of Chinese literature and culture, Nov. 2019, v. 6, no. 2, p. 432-460
Abstract: This article draws on historical linguistic evidence, archeological finds, and written accounts of ancient practices to argue that, in the pre-Qin and Han periods of Chinese history, an important stratum of knowledge related to earthly energies, vibrations, pitch, tonality, music, memory, and recitation existed in conceptual parallel to systems of visual knowledge of heavenly bodies, light, color, and the written record. Masters of the former set of skills were frequently blind and entrusted with a distinct set of ritual and advisory functions, including ushering in the seasons, pronouncing on elements of the calendar, predicting military fortunes, and performing official policy admonishments. Of particular importance to this group of experts was the concept of gwinds h or gairs h ( and a closely related verb for gsing, h gchant, h or gremonstrate h ( The etymological relationship of these words, along with words for listening, smell, sounds, and fragrance, led to a conceptual blending whereby the genergy h (qi) of wise words and gfragrant h virtue could carry on gwinds h of oral transmission to correct public morality and governance. This led to an etiological hierarchy, in some ways inverted by current standards, in which the purpose of studying pitch and tonality was not, first and foremost, analysis of music qua art but, rather, the encoding, transmission, and influence of natural energies and social harmony.
Keywords: Etymology
Publisher: Duke University Press
Journal: Journal of Chinese literature and culture 
ISSN: 2329-0048
EISSN: 2329-0056
DOI: 10.1215/23290048-8042003
Rights: Copyright © 2019 by Duke University Press
This is the accepted version of the publication Xiaodun, W., & Schoenberger, C. (2019). The Ancient Chinese Arts of the Ear: Etymology, Meteorology, Musicology. Journal of Chinese Literature and Culture, 6(2), 432-460, DOI: 10.1215/23290048-8042003
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