MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS - online book

The History And Development Of Musical Instruments From The Earliest Times.

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MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS
Some European mineralogists, to whom the missionaries trans­mitted specimens for examination, pronounce it to be a species of agate. It is found of different colours, and the Chinese appear to have preferred in different centuries particular colours for the king.
The Chinese consider the yu especially valuable for musical purposes, because it always retains exactly the same pitch. All other musical instruments, they say, are in this respect doubtful; but the tone of the yu is neither influenced by cold nor heat, nor by humidity, nor dryness.
The stones used for the king have been cut from time to time in various grotesque shapes. Some represent animals : as, for instance, a bat with outstretched wings; or two fishes placed side by side : others are in the shape of an ancient Chinese bell. The angular shape shown in the engraving appears to be the oldest and is still retained in the ornamented stones of the pien-king, which is a more modern instrument than the king. The tones of the pien-king are attuned according to the Chinese intervals called hi, of which there are twelve in the compass of an octave. The same is the case with the other Chinese instruments of this class. They vary, however, in pitch. The pitch of the soung-king, for instance, is four intervals lower than that of the pien-king.
Sonorous stones have always been used by the Chinese also singly, as rhythmical instruments. Such a single stone is called tse-king. Probably certain curious relics belonging to a temple in Peking, erected for the worship of Confucius, serve a similar pur­pose. In one of the outbuildings 01 the temple are ten sonorous stones, shaped like drums, which are asserted to have been cut about three thousand years ago. The primitive Chinese cha­racters engraven upon them are nearly obliterated.
The ancient Chinese had several kinds of bells, frequently arranged in sets so as to constitute a musical scale. The Chinese name for the bell is tchung. At an early period they had a some-
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