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

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The Chinese. Allowing for any exaggeration as to chronology, natural to the lively imagination of Asiatics, there is no reason to doubt that the Chinese possessed long before our Christian era musical instruments to which they attribute a fabulously high antiquity. There is an ancient tradition, according to which they obtained their musical scale from a miraculous bird, called foung-hoang, which appears to have been a sort of phoenix. When Confucius, who lived about e.g. 500, happened to hear on a certain occasion some Chinese music, he became so greatly enraptured that he could not take any food for three months afterwards. The sounds which produced this effect were those of Kouei, the Orpheus of the Chinese, whose performance on the king—a kind of harmonicon constructed of slabs of sonorous stone—would draw wild animals around him and make them subservient to his will. As regards the invention of musical instruments the Chinese have other traditions. In one of these we are told that the origin of some of their most popular instruments dates from the period when China was under the dominion of heavenly spirits, called Ki. Another assigns the invention of several stringed instruments to the great Fohi who was the founder of the empire and who lived about B.C. 3000, which was long after the dominion of the Ki, or spirits. Again, another tradition holds that the most important instruments and systematic arrangements of sounds are an invention of Niuva, a supernatural female, who lived at the time of Fohi.
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