Mo Tzu

1967 Words8 Pages
Name Chao Yang
Professor Mark D Meritt
Class RHET 120
Date April 25 2013
Mo Tzu’s Against Music is not against Music: How Mo Tzu critiques early Chinese Class based society in their Musical Practices
Music in Mo Tzu’s China was a historical and religiously based event. Music has always been a form of expression in Chinese cultural history, whether it is among the musical festivals of the common people, or the extravagant operas held in the courts of the ruling class aristocracy. Other than these forms of musical entertainment, more critical were the “rites” often closely associated with the “music” of the time. In fact, “rites-music” is a more general term often used to describe these early practices of playing and performing ritualistic
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While these bells were mostly used for the ruling class to display their status and inscribe their histories during the Spring and Autumn period, Zheng bells reflect how Music itself was a fundamental part of upper-class societal relationships. As the upper social classes gained wealth and class distinction from their agricultural civilians through taxes, most of these taxes were transferred for the religious rites and rituals to ensure the peace and prosperity of the people. However, as these religious rites and rituals progressed, the upper class began using musical performances (from the tax payer’s pocket) for private entertainment and enjoyment. [Is there a source for this last point?]
For Mo Tzu, his main argument is not, in fact, against the “Music” we would consider today. Mo Tzu is not against the harmonies people sing; in fact, Mo Tzu would be totally in favor for the songs farmers sing while working and plowing the fields, and he is not against the music of the weaving girls singing their work songs. Due to the expensive and specific nature of the Music Mo Tzu is critiquing, it is easy to think that he is against music altogether as a form of personal expression. However, the modern reader must remember that Music was never a personal form of expression in the earliest Chinese dynasties. Since Music was often a complicated and ritualistic affair, often the music that was played was not as important as the pomp and ceremony
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