Curiosities of Music - online book

Rare facts about the music traditions of many nations & cultures

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The Chinese have from the very earliest times divided musical sounds into eight classes, and imagined that in order to produce them, nature had formed eight kinds of sonorous bodies. They divided them as follows: —
1. The sound of skin, produced from the tanned skin, or parchment of various animals. 2. The sound of stone. 3. Of metal. 4. Of baked clay. 5. Of silk, used in the form of strings as we use cat-gut, or wire. 6. Of wood, used often in instruments of percussion. 7. Of bamboo, used in flutes. 8. Of calabash, a species of gourd, out of which a peculiarly constructed instrument was manufactured.
Of the skins of animals, many different instru­ments are made, all of which may be designated under the general name of drums, but the Chinese possess various kinds of drums of all shapes and sizes.* The most ancient variety of these was the Tou-kou, which siginifies earth drum, so called because its body was made of baked clay, over each end of which was drawn the skin. An instrument of this description was both fragile
* Amiot. da la Mus. de Chin, p. 85.

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