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Humanities 2016, 5(1), 3;

On Sound: Reconstructing a Zhuangzian Perspective of Music

Chinese/Philosophy, Nanyang Technological University, 14 Nanyang Drive, HSS-03-16, Singapore 637332
Academic Editor: Albrecht Classen
Received: 15 September 2015 / Revised: 1 December 2015 / Accepted: 19 December 2015 / Published: 28 December 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue “Reading the beat”—Musical Aesthetics and Literature)
Full-Text   |   PDF [1500 KB, uploaded 28 December 2015]


A devotion to music in Chinese classical texts is worth noticing. Early Chinese thinkers saw music as a significant part of human experience and a core practice for philosophy. While Confucian endorsement of ritual and music has been discussed in the field, Daoist understanding of music was hardly explored. This paper will make a careful reading of the Xiánchí 咸池 music story in the Zhuangzi, one of the most interesting, but least noticed texts, and reconstruct a Zhuangzian perspective from it. While sounds had been regarded as mere building blocks of music and thus depreciated in the hierarchical understanding of music in the mainstream discourse of early China, sound is the alpha and omega of music in the Zhuangzian perspective. All kinds of sounds, both human and natural, are invited into musical discourse. Sound is regarded as the real source of our being moved by music, and therefore, musical consummation is depicted as embodiment through sound. View Full-Text
Keywords: music; sound; philosophy; ritual and music; Zhuangzi; Xiánchí music music; sound; philosophy; ritual and music; Zhuangzi; Xiánchí music
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Park, S.J. On Sound: Reconstructing a Zhuangzian Perspective of Music. Humanities 2016, 5, 3.

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