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Contemporary Chinese Aesthetics


Edited By Zhu Liyuan and Gene Blocker

This book is a collection of translations of recent work by contemporary Chinese aestheticians. Because of the relative isolation of China until recently, little is known of this rich and ongoing aesthetics tradition in China. Although some of the articles are concerned with the traditional ancient Chinese theories of art and beauty, many are inspired by Western aesthetics, including Marxism, and all are involved in cross-cultural comparisons of Chinese and Western aesthetic traditions.


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Aesthetics of the "Musical Records": Jiang Kongyang 103


Aesthetics of the "Musical Records" Jiang Kongyang Music flourished in ancient China, and the preQin era (prior to 220 BC) was one of China's most highly developed musical periods. While ancient Greece used principally only the seven-stringed lyre and the "autos" flute, the records of preQin China list nearly seventy kinds of musical instruments. The Book of Songs alone mentions twenty-nine. In ancient Greece music was mainly linlited to reciting and singing; most Greek musicians were also poets. In ancient China there was already a sizeable number of professional musicians. The Rites of Zlwu (Zhouli) records that the court institution, the Grand Music Department, had 1,463 musicians. Music occupied an important position in the education of the crown prince and other royal offspring. The "Internal Regulations (Neize)" chapter of the Book of Rites states, "When thirteen years of age a crown prince has to learn music, recite poems and dance the 'Shao' dance. When he reaches sixteen he has to dance the elephant dance, learn archery and riding. When he comes of age, at 20, he begins to learn the ritual ceremonies and can wear furs and silk gowns, and he dances the 'Daxia'." According to the Biography of King Mu, vol. 2, "The king went on an expedition to the west and stopped at Xuanchi (the Black Lake). Here he rested and the Guang music was played for three days, after which the lake was called the Music Lake." Modem scholarship associates Xuanchi with the Black Lake which...

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