Appreciating Natural and Eternal Music

3 min read

Way back in ancient times lived a musician during the Spring and Autumn Period. He could play multiple Chinese musical instruments. He was so gifted that he was revered as being “a divinity of music”

Shi Kuang believed that music should be created to encourage people to behave well and to nurture their hearts

He believed in the traditional rites and advocated the theory that music should follow heaven’s will and adhere to the way of nature.

Musicians should steer their audiences toward uprightness through its content.

This is what’s known as “the harmony between the divine and people through music.”

Music that comes from a friendly heart will move the hearts of listeners and the musicians, as well as their audiences, so that all may attain higher realms of mind and soul.

According to Shi Kuang, there are three categories of ancient Chinese music, including Qing Shang, Qing Zheng, and Qing Jiao.

Qing Shang is the music of doom.

Qing Zheng is the music of harmony, and Qing Jiao is the music of prosperity.

It was alleged that horses would stop grazing and raise their heads to listen to Shi Kuang when he played. Hunting birds would land and stop hunting to sing with Shi Kuang.

Good, kind music will benefit its audience and steer them toward morality.

Bad music will cause its audience to lose self-control and steer them toward degeneration.

Music should be created to bring out the best in people.

Bad music may ruin people’s sense of decency.

Shi Kuang demonstrated the most marvelous technique when he played the Chinese zither.

After the first chord, 16 red cranes landed from the southern sky. At the second chord, the cranes lined up in a row. At the third chord, the cranes sang and danced in a row. As Shi Kuang continued, colorful clouds appeared in the sky and the singing of the cranes harmonized with the music of the zither. The music echoed in the sky for a long time.

The audience members felt the music of Heaven inspired by nature and felt their hearts expand and become peaceful. Everyone marveled at the music and congratulated Shi Kuang for his musical achievement.

The story generated the Chinese idiom, “Red cranes and colorful clouds,” which is used to describe delightful, heavenly music.

Shi Kuang pointed out the importance of music being created to guide people to show compassion for all sentient beings.

Shi Kuang created White Snow, Sunny Spring and many elevated and harmonious musical pieces. In Sunny Spring, Shi Kuang vividly portrayed the growing, reviving nature of springtime.

He also portrayed the image of a lofty gentleman who guards his virtue and aspires toward a beautiful future.

Ancient Chinese people believed that elevated music can reach Heaven or God and deliver a sense of truth, profundity, and eternity to its audience.

Steering people toward kindness and spreading goodness far and wide is a way to show one’s affinity and concern for mankind.

It is also a way to show one’s appreciation for the grace of the divine.

Watch the video below. Lute (pipa), China, 1891 (17.2049) “White Snow in Early Spring” (“Yang Chun Bai Xue”), about 552 B.C., attributed to Shi Kuang: performed by Yan Zhao

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