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1All the modulations of the voice arise from the mind, and the various affections of the mind are produced by things (external to it). The affections thus produced are manifested in the sounds that are uttered. Changes are produced by the way in which those sounds respond to one another; and those changes constitute what we call the modulations of the voice. The combination of those modulated sounds, so as to give pleasure, and the (direction in harmony with them of the) shields and axes 2, and of the plumes and ox-tails 3, constitutes what we call music.

Music is (thus) the production of the modulations of the voice, and its source is in the affections of the mind as it is influenced by (external) things. When the mind is moved to sorrow, the sound is sharp and fading away; when it is moved to pleasure, the sound is slow and gentle; when it is moved to joy, the sound is exclamatory and soon disappears; when it is moved to anger, the sound is coarse and fierce; when it is moved to reverence, the sound is straightforward, with an indication of humility; when it is moved to love, the sound is harmonious and soft. These six peculiarities of sound are not natural 4; they indicate the impressions produced by (external) things. On this account the ancient kings were watchful in regard to the things by which the mind was affected.

And so (they instituted) ceremonies to direct men's aims aright; music to give harmony to their voices; laws to unify their conduct; and punishments to guard against their tendencies to evil. The end to which ceremonies, music, punishments, and laws conduct is one; they are the instruments by which the minds of the people are assimilated, and good order in government is made to appear.

All modulations of the voice spring from the minds of men. When the feelings are moved within, they are manifested in the sounds of the voice; and when those sounds are combined so as to form compositions, we have what are called airs. Hence, the airs of an age of good order indicate composure and enjoyment. The airs of an age of disorder indicate dissatisfaction and anger, and its government is perversely bad. The airs of a state going to ruin are expressive of sorrow and (troubled) thought. There is an interaction between the words and airs (of the people) and the character of their government.

(The note) kung represents the ruler; shang, the ministers; kio, the people; kih, affairs; and yü, things. If there be no disorder or irregularity in these five notes, there will be no want of harmony in the state. If kung be irregular, (the air) is wild and broken; the ruler of the state is haughty. If shang be irregular, (the air) is jerky; the offices of the state are decayed. If kio be irregular, (the air) expresses anxiety; the people are dissatisfied. If kih be irregular, (the air) expresses sorrow; affairs are strained. If yü be irregular, (the air) is expressive of impending ruin; the resources (of the state) are exhausted. If the five notes are all irregular, and injuriously interfere with one another, they indicate a state of insolent disorder; and the state where this is the case will at no distant day meet with extinction and ruin 5.

The airs of Kang 6 and Wei were those of an age of disorder, showing that those states were near such an abandoned condition. The airs near the river Pû, at the mulberry forest, were those of a state going to ruin 7. The government (of Wei) was in a state of dissipation, and the people were unsettled, calumniating their superiors, and pursuing their private aims beyond the possibility of restraint.

All modulations of sound take their rise from the mind of man; and music is the intercommunication of them in their relations and differences. Hence, even beasts know sound, but not its modulations, and the masses of the common people know the modulations, but they do not know music. It is only the superior man who can (really) know music.

On this account we must discriminate sounds in order to know the airs; the airs in order to know the music; and the music in order to know (the character of) the government. Having attained to this, we are fully provided with the methods of good order. Hence with him who does not know the sounds we cannot speak about the airs, and with him who does not know the airs we cannot speak about the music. The knowledge of music leads to the subtle springs that underlie the rules of ceremony. He who has apprehended both ceremonies and music may be pronounced to be a possessor of virtue. Virtue means realisation (in one's self) 8.

Hence the greatest achievements of music were not in the perfection of the airs; the (efficacy) of the ceremonies in the sacrificial offerings was not in the exquisiteness of the flavours. In the lutes for the Khing Miâo the strings were of red (boiled) silk, and the holes were wide apart; one lute began, and (only) three others joined it; there was much melody not brought out. In the ceremonies of the great sacrifices, the dark-coloured liquor took precedence, and on the stands were uncooked fish, while the grand soup had no condiments: there was much flavour left undeveloped.

Thus we see that the ancient kings, in their institution of ceremonies and music, did not seek how fully they could satisfy the desires of the appetite and of the ears and eyes; but they intended to teach the people to regulate their likings and dislikings, and to bring them back to the normal course of humanity.

It belongs to the nature of man, as from Heaven, to be still at his birth. His activity shows itself as he is acted on by external things, and developes the desires incident to his nature. Things come to him more and more, and his knowledge is increased. Then arise the manifestations of liking and disliking. When these are not regulated by anything within, and growing knowledge leads more astray without, he cannot come back to himself, and his Heavenly principle is extinguished.

Now there is no end of the things by which man is affected; and when his likings and dislikings are not subject to regulation (from within), he is changed into the nature of things as they come before him; that is, he stifles the voice of Heavenly principle within, and gives the utmost indulgence to the desires by which men may be possessed. On this we have the rebellious and deceitful heart, with licentious and violent disorder. The strong press upon the weak; the many are cruel to the few; the knowing impose upon the dull; the bold make it bitter for the timid; the diseased are not nursed; the old and young, orphans and solitaries are neglected:--such is the great disorder that ensues.

Therefore the ancient kings, when they instituted their ceremonies and music, regulated them by consideration of the requirements of humanity. By the sackcloth worn for parents, the wailings, and the weepings, they defined the terms of the mourning rites. By the bells, drums, shields, and axes, they introduced harmony into their seasons of rest and enjoyment. By marriage, capping, and the assumption of the hair-pin, they maintained the separation that should exist between male and female. By the archery gatherings in the districts, and the feastings at the meetings of princes, they provided for the correct maintenance of friendly intercourse.

Ceremonies afforded the defined expression for the (affections of the) people's minds; music secured the harmonious utterance of their voices; the laws of government were designed to promote the performance (of the ceremonies and music); and punishments, to guard against the violation of them. When ceremonies, music, laws, and punishments had everywhere full course, without irregularity or collision, the method of kingly rule was complete 9.

Similarity and union are the aim of music; difference and distinction, that of ceremony. From union comes mutual affection; from difference, mutual respect. Where music prevails, we find a weak coalescence; where ceremony prevails, a tendency to separation. It is the business of the two to blend people's feelings and give elegance to their outward manifestations.

Through the perception of right produced by ceremony, came the degrees of the noble and the mean; through the union of culture arising from music, harmony between high and low. By the exhibition of what was to be liked and what was to be disliked, a distinction was made between the worthy and unworthy. When violence was prevented by punishments, and the worthy were raised to rank, the operation of government was made impartial. Then came benevolence in the love (of the people), and righteousness in the correction (of their errors); and in this way good government held its course.

Music comes from within, and ceremonies from without. Music, coming from within, produces the stillness (of the mind); ceremonies, coming from without, produce the elegancies (of manner). The highest style of music is sure to be distinguished by its ease; the highest style of elegance, by its undemonstrativeness.

Let music attain its full results, and there would be no dissatisfactions (in the mind); let ceremony do so, and there would be no quarrels. When bowings and courtesies marked the government of the kingdom, there would be what might be described as music and ceremony indeed. Violent oppression of the people would not arise; the princes would appear submissively at court as guests; there would be no occasion for the weapons of war, and no employment of the five punishments 10; the common people would have no distresses, and the son of Heaven no need to be angry:--such a state of things would be an universal music. When the son of Heaven could secure affection between father and son, could illustrate the orderly relation between old and young, and make mutual respect prevail all within the four seas, then indeed would ceremony (be seen) as power.

In music of the grandest style there is the same harmony that prevails between heaven and earth; in ceremonies of the grandest form there is the same graduation that exists between heaven and earth. Through the harmony, things do not fail (to fulfil their ends); through the graduation we have the sacrifices to heaven and those to earth. In the visible sphere there are ceremonies and music; in the invisible, the spiritual agencies. These things being so, in all within the four seas, there must be mutual respect and love.

The occasions and forms of ceremonies are different, but it is the same feeling of respect (which they express). The styles of musical pieces are different, but it is the same feeling of love (which they promote). The essential nature of ceremonies and music being the same, the intelligent kings, one after another, continued them as they found them. The occasions and forms were according to the times when they were made; the names agreed with the merit which they commemorated.

Hence the bell, the drum, the flute, and the sounding-stone; the plume, the fife, the shield, and the axe are the instruments of music; the curvings and stretchings (of the body), the bending down and lifting up (of the head); and the evolutions and numbers (of the performers), with the slowness or rapidity (of their movements), are its elegant accompaniments. The dishes, round and square, the stands, the standing dishes, the prescribed rules and their elegant variations, are the instruments of ceremonies; the ascending and descending, the positions high and low, the wheelings about, and the changing of robes, are their elegant accompaniments.

Therefore they who knew the essential nature of ceremonies and music could frame them; and they who had learned their elegant accompaniments could hand them down. The framers may be pronounced sage; the transmitters, intelligent. Intelligence and sagehood are other names for transmitting and inventing.

, Music is (an echo of) the harmony between heaven and earth; ceremonies reflect the orderly distinctions (in the operations of) heaven and earth. From that harmony all things receive their being; to those orderly distinctions they owe the differences between them. Music has its origin from heaven; ceremonies take their form from the appearances of earth. If the imitation of those appearances were carried to excess, confusion (of ceremonies) would appear; if the framing of music were carried to excess, it would be too vehement. Let there be an intelligent understanding of the nature and interaction of (heaven and earth), and there will be the ability to practise well both ceremonies and music.

The blending together without any mutual injuriousness (of the sentiments and the airs on the different instruments) forms the essence of music; and the exhilaration of joy and the glow of affection are its business. Exactitude and correctness, without any inflection or deviation, form the substance of ceremonies, while gravity, respectfulness, and a humble consideration are the rules for their discharge.

As to the employment of instruments of metal and stone in connexion with these ceremonies and this music, the manifestation of them by the voice and its modulations, the use of them in the ancestral temple, and at the altars to the spirits of the land and grain, and in sacrificing to (the spirits of) the hills and streams, and to the general spiritual agencies (in nature);--these are (external demonstrations), natural even to the people 11.

When the (ancient) kings had accomplished their undertakings, they made their music (to commemorate them); when they had established their government, they framed their ceremonies. The excellence of their music was according to the greatness of their undertakings; and the completeness of their ceremonies was according to the comprehensiveness of their government. The dances with shields and axes did not belong to the most excellent music, nor did the sacrifices with cooked flesh mark the highest ceremonies 12.

The times of the five Tîs were different, and therefore they did not each adopt the music of his predecessor. The three kings belonged to different ages, and so they did not each follow the ceremonies of his predecessor. Music carried to an extreme degree leads to sorrow, and coarseness in ceremonies indicates something one-sided. To make the grandest music, which should bring with it no element of sorrow, and frame the completest ceremonies which yet should show no one-sidedness, could be the work only of the great sage.

There are heaven above and earth below, and between them are distributed all the (various) beings with their different (natures and qualities):--in accordance with this proceeded the framing of ceremonies. (The influences of) heaven and earth flow forth and never cease; and by their united action (the phenomena of) production and change ensue:--in accordance with this music arose. The processes of growth in spring, and of maturing in summer (suggest the idea of) benevolence; those of in-gathering in autumn and of storing in winter, suggest righteousness. Benevolence is akin to music, and righteousness to ceremonies.

Harmony is the thing principally sought in music:--it therein follows heaven, and manifests the spirit-like expansive influence characteristic of it. Normal distinction is the thing aimed at in ceremonies:--they therein follow earth, and exhibit the spirit-like retractive influence characteristic of it. Hence the sages made music in response to heaven, and framed ceremonies in correspondence with earth. In the wisdom and completeness of their ceremonies and music we see the directing power of heaven and earth 13.

(The relation) between ruler and minister was determined from a consideration of heaven (conceived of as) honourable, and earth (conceived of as) mean. The positions of noble and mean were fixed with a reference to the heights and depths displayed by the surface (of the earth). The regularity with which movement and repose follow each other (in the course of nature) led to the consideration of affairs as small and great. The different quarters (of the heavens) are grouped together, and the things (of the earth) are distinguished by their separate characteristics; and this gave rise to (the conception of) natures and their attributes and functions. In heaven there are formed its visible signs, and earth produces its (endless variety of) things; and thus it was that ceremonies were framed after the distinctions between heaven and earth.

The breath (or influence) of earth ascends on high, and that of heaven descends below. These in their repressive and expansive powers come into mutual contact, and heaven and earth act on each other. (The susceptibilities of nature) are roused by the thunder, excited by the wind and rain, moved by the four seasons, and warmed by the sun and moon; and all the processes of change and growth vigorously proceed. Thus it was that music was framed to indicate the harmonious action of heaven and earth.

If these processes took place out of season, there would be no (vigorous) life; and if no distinction were observed between males and females, disorder would arise and grow:--such is the nature of the (different qualities of) heaven and earth.

When we think of ceremonies and music, how they reach to the height of heaven and embrace the earth; how there are in them the phenomena of retrogression and expansion, and a communication with the spirit-like (operations of nature), we must pronounce their height the highest, their reach the farthest, their depth the most profound, and their breadth the greatest.

Music appeared in the Grand Beginning (of all things), and ceremonies had their place on the completion of them. Their manifestation, being ceaseless, gives (the idea of) heaven; and again, being motionless, gives (the idea of) earth. Through the movement and repose (of their interaction) come all things between heaven and earth. Hence the sages simply spoke of ceremonies and music.


1. See the introductory notice, vol. xxvii, pages 32-34.

2. There was a pantomimic exhibition of scenes of war, in which the performers brandished shields and axes; and another of scenes of peace, in which they waved plumes and ox-tails. What I have rendered by 'the modulations of the voice' is in the text the one Chinese character yin (音), for which Callery gives 'air musical,' and which Kang Hsüan explains as meaning 'the five full notes of the scale.' See the long note of Callery prefixed to this record, concluding:--'La musique Chinoise, telle que l'ont entendue les anciens, avait tous les caractères d'une représentation théatrale ayant pour but de parler tout à la fois aux yeux, aux oreilles, à l'esprit, et au cœur.'

3. There was a pantomimic exhibition of scenes of war, in which the performers brandished shields and axes; and another of scenes of peace, in which they waved plumes and ox-tails. What I have rendered by 'the modulations of the voice' is in the text the one Chinese character yin (音), for which Callery gives 'air musical,' and which Kang Hsüan explains as meaning 'the five full notes of the scale.' See the long note of Callery prefixed to this record, concluding:--'La musique Chinoise, telle que l'ont entendue les anciens, avait tous les caractères d'une représentation théatrale ayant pour but de parler tout à la fois aux yeux, aux oreilles, à l'esprit, et au cœur.'

4. Or, 'are not the nature;' that is, the voice does not naturally, when the mind is not moved, from without itself, give such peculiar expressions of feeling. What belongs to man by his nature is simply the faculty of articulate speech, slumbering until he is awakened by his sensations and perceptions.

5. On those notes, see Chinese Classics, vol. iii, page 48.

6. See Confucian Analects, XV, 10, 6.

7. This place was in the state of Wei. See the ridiculous incident which gave rise to this account of the airs in Sze-mâ Khien's monograph on music, pages 13, 14.

8. Virtue (德) and getting or realising (得) have the same name or pronunciation (teh) in Chinese. This concluding sentence, as Callery points out, is only a sort of pun on that common name. And yet 'virtue' is the 'realisation' in one's self 'of what is good.' The next paragraph expands the writer's thought. The greatest achievement of music in its ancient perfection was the softening and refining of the character, and that of the services of the temple was the making men reverent, filial, and brotherly.

9. With this paragraph ends the first portion of the treatise on music, called Yo Pan (樂本), or 'Fundamental Principles in Music.' The Khien-lung editors divide it into four chapters:--the first setting forth that music takes its character as good or bad from the mind of man, as affected by what is external to it; the second, that the character of the external things affecting the mind is determined by government as good or bad; the third, that the ceremonies and music of the ancient kings were designed to regulate the minds of men in their likings and dislikings; and the fourth, that that regulation was in harmony with the will of Heaven, as indicated in the nature of man.

10. The 'five punishments' where branding on the forehead, cutting off the nose, other various dismemberments, castration, and death; see Mayers' 'Chinese Readers' Manual,' page 313. But the one word 'punishment' would sufficiently express the writer's meaning.

11. The eleven paragraphs ending with this form the second chapter of the Book, called by Liû Hsiang Yo Lun (樂論), while the third chapter, extending to the end of the section, is called Yo Lî (樂理), as if the two were an expansion of the statement in the seventh paragraph, that music is 'the intercommunication of the modulated sounds and the mind in their relations and differences.'

12. As being, I suppose, commemorative of the achievements of war, and not the victories of peace; and as marking a progress of society, and a departure from the primitive era of innocent simplicity and reverence.

13. On the first of these two paragraphs, P. Callery says:--'The celebrated Encyclopædist, Mâ Twan-lin (Book 181), says that this passage is one of the most marvellous that ever were written, and he draws from it the proof that the work could not have been written later than the Han, "because reckoning from that dynasty there did not appear any author capable of conceiving ideas so profound, and expressing them in language so elevated."' P. Callery adds, 'As regards the origin of the Li Ki, the reasoning of the Encyclopædist appears to me passably (passablement) false; as to the intrinsic worth of the passage, I leave it to the reader to form his judgment from the translation, which I have endeavoured to render as faithful as possible.'

In the passage of Mâ Twan-lin, however, that author is simply quoting the words of Kû Hsî (Tâ Kwan, Book 37), and expresses no opinion of his own.

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