Friday, 13 January 2012

Sonic Reflection

The following is from:
by Cameron Petke

Bells had great political and religious significance in China due to their role in ancient ritual music. It was believed that the music determined, not just reflected, the state of harmony between heaven, earth, and the government of the empire. The Yue Ji, a record of music from the third century B.C.E., builds upon the idea that a ruler can employ music to induce social harmony. The Yue Ji defines music as follows:

All musical tones are born in the hearts-and-minds of humans. The sentiments stir within and thereupon take shape as sounds, and when the sounds assume a pattern, they are called musical tones…The musical tones of a well-ordered age are calm and full of joy about the harmony of its government. But the musical tones of an age in disorder are resentful and full of anger about the perversity of its government. The musical tones of a state that is doomed to perish are mournful and full of anxiety about the dire straits of its people. Truly, the Way of the sounds and musical tones is intimately linked to government.

Bells are a favorite literary element, playing important roles in the Russian masterworks Crime and Punishment and War and Peace, as well as in Thomas Moore’s Paradise and the Peri where bells signal a long-awaited entry into Paradise:

And she already hears the trees
Of Eden with their crystal bells
Ringing in that ambrosial breeze
That from the Throne of Alla swells.

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