Henan Museum
Who Tuned the Instrument for New Music
Ancient Musical Instruments Unearthed Along the Silk Road
Source: Henan Museum
Edit: Zrr
Time: 2022-05-31 15:39:11

The musical culture of the Silk Road has a long history.From the delicate to the magnificent genres, numerous creators composed a harmony of the souls with their wisdom.Varieties of ancient musical instruments unearthed from areas along the Silk Road, as good examples with historical continuity, have deposited the art spirit of the Chinese nation. Music has become an important carrier for the Eastern and Western cultural exchanges and national integration. We have handpicked some selected works among the ancient musical instruments unearthed from Xinjiang, Gansu,Qinghai, Ningxia, Shanxi and Henan in the past decades to restore a world of music which has existed thousands of years along the Silk Road,and we hope we can bring more audiences closer to ancient Chinese music and enable them to enjoy its long-lasting glamor.

PartⅠ-China and Western Regions-Musical Cultural Before the Formation of the Silk Road

The Western Regions was a geographical term used by ancient Chinese people, and generally referred to the vast regions west of Yumen and Yangguan passes. Its core area included Xinjiang of China and other regions in Central Asia. Before the opening of the Silk Road, ancestors of China and the Western Regions had created astonishing musical culture in years of living. The Chinese primitive wind and percussion instruments such as bone flute, pottery xun (an ancient egg-shaped, holed wind instrument), pottery drum and stone chime, the Chinese ritual and musical culture represented by the bell, drum, stone chime and se (a stringed instrument) in the Bronze Age, and the stringed instruments introduced From the Western Regions jointly become the origin and feature the typical sound of the world music.

PartⅡ -Connection and Introduction

Musical Culrare in Western and Eastern Han. Wei. Jin. Soudhern and Northern Dynasties
Since Zhang Qian reached the Western Regions in the Han Dynasty, the exchanges between Central China and the Western Regions became increasingly frequent. By ways of communication such as sending envoys, trading, marriage, migration, religions and wars, musical cultures of different nations along the Silk Road have been introduced to and integrated with each other. A large number of Western Regions artists with superb skills successively came to Central China and brought in their musical instruments, music and dance. Meanwhile, people from Central China introduced their own musical culture to exotic regions during their migration process. In particular, the musical culture of Central China absorbed the quintessence of the Western Regions musical culture and formed a solid foundation for the prime of music in the Sui and Tang dynasties.

PartⅢ-Integration of Different Genres Prime of Music along the Silk Road in Sui and Tang Dynasties

In the Sui and Tang dynasties, ancient Chinese music had developed into a large-scaled complex performing art integrating songs, music and dance. In the Sui Dynasty, people inherited the musical culture achievements of the Wei,Jin, Southern and Northern Dynasties and created the music systems of "seven-ensemble music" and "nine-ensemble music". In the Tang Dynasty, the musical instruments, instrumental music, and the song-dance art of different nations were introduced from countries in Central,West and South Asia to Central China via the Silk Road, and integrated and influenced with traditional music in local areas of China. On this basis,numerous works of instrumental music were created and many new combination ways of musical instruments were invented. They jointly enriched the music culture of the Tang Dynasty.

Part Ⅳ Pleasant Heavenly Music-Buddhist Music along the Silk Road

When China's silk was continuously brought to the ancient Roman Empire in the Mediterranean area via the Silk Road opened by the Han Dynasty court, Buddhism was also introduced from India to China. From Wei, Jin to Sui and Tang dynasties, Buddhism saw remarkable development in China and was disseminated to various places all over the country, transcending the national and cultural identity. Buddhist temples and grottoes could be found everywhere. Painting and music are the most powerful artistic means used in Buddhism to promote the profound and esoteric philosophy. Music is also a major form adopted in
Buddhist rituals and ceremonies. The elegant ritual music, the magnanimous drum music and the graceful zither music shine in the spectacular world of Buddhist music along the Silk Road.