Curiosities of Music - online book

Rare facts about the music traditions of many nations & cultures

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148                  CURIOSITIES OF MUSIC.
smaller size, called pien-king, which were composed of sixteen stones each. The tse-king consisted of one large stone, and is used to give the pitch to other instruments, to signalize the commencement of a tune, and according to some writers, was anciently used to heat the time throughout a composition.
The shape of the stones is much like a carpen­ter's square; and if sixteen of these tools were suspended from a clothes horse, the shape at least of the king would be attained; but in the most ancient specimens the stones are shaped with much more diversity, fishes, bats, and other quaint forms appearing with much ingenuity in the different pieces. The only modern instrument of similar style to the king, which is known to American readers, is the glass-harmonica, where short strips of glass, being struck by a mallet, give out a melodious, but not very manageable tone, and any person performing on the musical glasses, not by friction, but by percussion, can give a fair representation of the music of the favorite instru­ment of China.
Bells have been in China from the earliest ages the most esteemed of instruments. At first their duty was to be a sort of tuning fork; one bell being made for chief or fundamental tone, and eleven others giving the various semitones. These bells were much different from our church and tower bells; they rather resemble large hand bells,

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III