Critical and Historical Essays: Lectures Delivered at Columbia University

By Edward MacDowell; W. J. Baltzell | Go to book overview

V
THE MUSIC OF THE CHINESE (Continued)

HAVING described the musical instruments in use in China we still have for consideration the music itself, and the conditions which led up to it.

Among the Chinese instruments mentioned in the preceding chapter, the preponderance of instruments of percussion, such as drums, gongs, bells, etc., has probably been noticed. In connection with the last named we meet with one of the two cases in Chinese art in which we see the same undercurrent of feeling, or rather superstition, as that found among western nations. We read in the writings of Mencius, the Chinese philosopher ( 350 B. C.), the following bit of gossip about the king Senen of Tse.

"The king," said he, "was sitting aloft in the hall, when a man appeared, leading an ox past the lower part of it. The king saw him, and asked, 'Where is the ox going?'

"The man replied, 'We are going to consecrate a bell with its blood.'

"The king said, 'Let it go. I cannot bear its frightened appearance as if it were an innocent person going to the place of death.'

"The man answered, 'Shall we then omit the consecration of the bell?'

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