Chinese Music <>Western Music

I am not a musician, I do not play an instrument, but I love music, classical, religious, folk, pop, and I love choral music as well. I find there is a difference in the melody and the rhythm between Oriental classical and Western classical music. Not so much in the folk genre, maybe because folk music has more freedom of expression and involves the whole community with song and dance.

Both Chinese and Western music were created using a mathematical scale. In my research, this is what I found.

Chinese musicians used a 5 notes scale per octave called the “Pentatonic Scale”.  In the Western World, it was Pythagoras who created a 7 notes scale per octave called the “Heptatonic Scale” which has been the basis for musical composition to this day. Therefore the tones you can create are going to be different.

As a professional translator/interpreter, it seems to me that the music scale works the same way language does, let me explain. Both English and Spanish have only five vowels: a -e -i- o -u. However, the English language has 18 different sounds for those five vowels, while the Spanish language has only 5 different sounds for them. That’s why when a Spanish native speaker is speaking English as a second language he/she will have an accent; because their brain is trying to adapt 5 sounds to sound like 18.Chinese Musical Instruments

Another factor might be the kind of instruments they have used such as percussion instruments like bronze bells, gongs, and drums, string instruments that were played with sticks or plucked by hand, lutes, and flutes. A very popular instrument is the yangqin which might have as
many as 25 strings that are stretched across a wooden frame and are struck with beaters like the “marimba”. In Western music percussion instruments have been associated with the orchestra in concerts.

Chinese music was part of the four elements of the Arts and can be dated to about 7000 years ago. The four arts of the Chinese accomplished scholar, were :  qin (琴, a seven-string instrument), qi (棋, the strategy game of Go), shu (書, Chinese calligraphy) and hua (畫, Chinese painting).

There were fragments of thirty flutes discovered In the archeological site of Jiahu [7000-5700 BC] six of these represent the earliest examples of playable musical instruments ever found. The flutes were carved from the wing bone of the red-crowned crane, with five to eight holes capable of producing varied sounds in a nearly accurate octave.It  is remarkable evidence of a flourishing and complex society as early as the Neolithic period, when Jiahu was first occupied.

The earliest music was connected with religious ceremonies was rhythmic and loud in contrast with ancient hymns which were solemn and there is the music for the theatre, the Opera which was lively and included singing and dancing, it was popular with rich and poor alike.

In the Chinese Opera, colors play a vivid role in the emotions, i.e. Red means: intelligence, heroism, integrity, and loyalty. Then there is Purple depicting attributes of respect, sophistication, nobleness, and a sense of justice. Now, a black mask is neutral. Blue represents stubbornness and bravery. Yellow portrays treachery, ferociousness.

Children Books about Chinese musical history you might want to read. 1 MP3. 

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