Significance of Cosmology on Ritual and Music Culture in Early China

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Significance of Cosmology on Ritual and Music Culture in Early China

Beginning when the mythical Five emperors of China ruled (2800-2070 BCE), the relationship between music and ritual was already established in order to follow moral and ethical guidelines and establish social order. This gave way to a complex system of music and ritual that were intertwined and interdependent, with the single aim of bringing harmony to society and ensuring success and strength of the Dynasty. The correlation between music culture, ritual and social values became strictly defined in during the Zhou dynasty (1045-256 BCE) because in the ideal society as conceptualized by Confucius (551-479 BCE), incorporating the Five Phases and other cosmological ideas into the development of music, the music system and practice was the way to achieve harmony between Heaven and Man and obtain moral order. Throughout this paper, I will examine the roots of the Chinese music system beginning with the mythical emperor Shun and then examine how music was incorporated into the daily lives of the early Chinese philosophically and socially through ritual. The tomb of the Marquis of Yi will serve as an archeological illustration of the significance early Chinese placed on music and ritual.

The first Chinese musical instruments were created almost three thousand years before Christ and the first and most fundamental note that in turn gave rise to the rest of music theory in China. What is remarkable about the
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