Back to collection

The Book of Rites 禮記

《樂記》 Record of Music

Click on any word to see more details.

》 Record of Music

All 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, and of the plumes and ox-tails, 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'; 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) gong represents the ruler; shang, the ministers; jiao, the people; zhi, affairs; and yu, things. If there be no disorder or irregularity in these five notes, there will be no want of harmony in the state. If gong 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 jiao be irregular, (the air) expresses anxiety; the people are dissatisfied. If zhi be irregular, (the air) expresses sorrow; affairs are strained. If yu 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.

The airs of Zheng and Wei were those of an age of disorder, showing that those states were near such an abandoned condition. The airs near the river Pu, at the mulberry forest, were those of a state going to ruin. 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).

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 lute's for the Qing Miao 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.

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; 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.

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. The times of the five Dis 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.

(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 distinction, 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.

Anciently, Shun made the lute with five strings, and used it in singing the Nan Feng. Kui was the first who composed (the pieces of) music to be employed by the feudal lords as an expression of (the royal) approbation of them.

Thus the employment of music by the son of Heaven was intended to reward the most virtuous among the feudal lords. When their virtue was very great, and their instructions were honoured, and all the cereals ripened in their season, then they were rewarded by (being permitted) the use of the music. Hence, those of them whose toils in the government of the people were conspicuous, had their rows of pantomimes extended far; and those of them who had been indifferent to the government of the people had those rows made short. On seeing their pantomimes, one knew what was (the degree of) their virtue, (just as) on hearing their posthumous designations, we know what had been (the character of) their conduct.

The Da Zhang expressed the brilliance (of its author's virtue); the Xian Chi, the completeness (of its author's); the Shao showed how (its author) continued (the virtue of his predecessor); the Xia, the greatness (of its author's virtue); the music of Yin and Zhou embraced every admirable quality.

In the interaction of heaven and earth, if cold and heat do not come at the proper seasons, illnesses arise (among the people); if wind and rain do not come in their due proportions, famine ensues. The instructions (of their superiors) are the people's cold and heat; if they are not what the time requires, an injury is done to society. The affairs (of their superiors) are the people's wind and rain; if they are not properly regulated, they have no success. In accordance with this, the object of the ancient kings in their practice of music was to bring their government into harmony with those laws (of heaven and earth). If it was good, then the conduct (of the people) was like the virtue (of their superiors).

(The feast on) grain-fed animals, with the adjunct of drinking, was not intended to produce evil, and yet cases of litigation are more numerous in consequence of it - it is the excessive drinking which produces the evil. Therefore the former kings framed the rules to regulate the drinking. Where there is (but) one presentation of the cup (at one time), guest and host may bow to each other a hundred times, and drink together all the day without getting drunk. This was the way in which those kings provided against evil consequences. Such feasts served for the enjoyment of the parties at them. The music was intended to illustrate virtue; the ceremonies to restrain excess.

Hence the former kings, on occasions of great sorrow, had their rules according to which they expressed their grief; and on occasions of great happiness, they had their rules by which they expressed their pleasure. The manifestations, whether of grief or joy, were all bounded by the limits of these rules. In music the sages found pleasure, and (saw that) it could be used to make the hearts of the people good. Because of the deep influence which it exerts on a man, and the change which it produces in manners and customs, the ancient kings appointed it as one of the subjects of instruction.


Now, in the nature of men there are both the energy of their physical powers and the intelligence of the mind; but for their (affections of) grief, pleasure, joy, and anger there are no invariable rules. They are moved according to the external objects which excite them, and then there ensues the manifestation of the various faculties of the mind. Hence, when a (ruler's) aims are small, notes that quickly die away characterise the music, and the people's thoughts are sad; when he is generous, harmonious, and of a placid and easy temper, the notes are varied and elegant, with frequent changes, and the people are satisfied and pleased; when he is coarse, violent, and excitable, the notes, vehement at first and distinct in the end, are full and bold throughout the piece, and the people are resolute and daring; when he is pure and straightforward, strong and correct, the notes are grave and expressive of sincerity, and the people are self-controlled and respectful; when he is magnanimous, placid, and kind, the notes are natural, full, and harmonious, and the people are affectionate and loving; when he is careless, disorderly, perverse, and dissipated, the notes are tedious and ill-regulated, and the people proceed to excesses and disorder.

Therefore the ancient kings (in framing their music), laid its foundations in the feelings and nature of men; they examined (the notes) by the measures (for the length and quality of each); and adapted it to express the meaning of the ceremonies (in which it was to be used). They (thus) brought it into harmony with the energy that produces life, and to give expression to the performance of the five regular constituents of moral worth. They made it indicate that energy in its Yang or phase of vigour, without any dissipation of its power, and also in its Yin or phase of remission, without the vanishing of its power. The strong phase showed no excess like that of anger, and the weak no shrinking like that of pusillanimity. These four characteristics blended harmoniously in the minds of men, and were similarly manifested in their conduct. Each occupied quietly in its proper place, and one did not interfere injuriously with another. After this they established schools for (teaching their music), and different grades (for the learners). They marked most fully the divisions of the pieces, and condensed into small compass the parts and variations giving beauty and elegance, in order to regulate and increase the inward virtue (of the learners). They gave laws for the great and small notes according to their names, and harmonised the order of the beginning and the end, to represent the doing of things. Thus they made the underlying principles of the relations between the near and distant relatives, the noble and mean, the old and young, males and females, all to appear manifestly in the music. Hence it is said that 'in music we must endeavour to see its depths.'

When the soil is worn out, the grass and trees on it do. not grow well. When water is often troubled, the fish and tortoises in it do not become large. When the energy (of nature) is decayed, its production of things does not proceed freely. In an age of disorder, ceremonies are forgotten and neglected, and music becomes licentious. In such a case the notes are melancholy but without gravity, or joyous without repose. There is remissness (in ceremonies) and the violation of them is easy. One falls into such a state of dissoluteness that he forgets the virtue properly belonging to his nature. In great matters he is capable of treachery and villainy; in small matters he becomes greedy and covetous. There is a diminution in him of the enduring, genial forces of nature, and an extinction of the virtue of satisfaction and harmony. On this account the Superior man despises such (a style of music and ceremonies).

Whenever notes that are evil and depraved affect men, a corresponding evil spirit responds to them (from within); and when this evil spirit accomplishes its manifestations, licentious music is the result. Whenever notes that are correct affect men, a corresponding correct spirit responds to them (from within); and when this correct spirit accomplishes its manifestations, harmonious music is the result. The initiating cause and the result correspond to each other. The round and the deflected, the crooked and the straight, have each its own category; and such is the character of all things, that they affect one another severally according to their class. Hence the superior man returns to the (good) affections (proper to his nature) in order to bring his will into harmony with them, and compares the different qualities (of actions) in order to perfect his conduct. Notes that are evil and depraved, and sights leading to disorder, and licentiousness, are not allowed to affect his ears or eyes. Licentious music and corrupted ceremonies are not admitted into the mind to affect its powers. The spirit of idleness, indifference, depravity, and perversity finds no exhibition in his person. And thus he makes his ears, eyes, nose, and mouth, the apprehensions of his mind, and the movements of all the parts of his body, all follow the course that is correct, and do that which is right.

After this there ensues the manifestation (of the inward thoughts) by the modulations of note and tone, the elegant accompaniments of the lutes, small and large, the movements with the shield and battleaxe, the ornaments of the plumes and ox-tails, and the concluding with the pipes and flutes. All this has the effect of exhibiting the brilliance of complete virtue, stirring up the harmonious action of the four (seasonal) energies; and displaying the true natures and qualities of all things. Hence in the fine and distinct notes we have an image of heaven; in the ample and grand, an image of earth; in their beginning and ending, an image of the four seasons; in the wheelings and revolutions (of the pantomimes), an image of the wind and rain. (The five notes, like) the five colours, form a complete and elegant whole, without any confusion. (The eight instruments of different materials, like) the eight winds, follow the musical accords, without any irregular deviation. The lengths of all the different notes have their definite measurements, without any uncertainty. The small and the great complete one another. The end leads on to the beginning, and the beginning to the end. The key notes and those harmonising with them, the sharp and the bass, succeed one another in their regular order. Therefore, when the music has full course, the different relations are clearly defined by it; the perceptions of the ears and eyes become sharp and distinct; the action of the blood and physical energies is harmonious and calm; (bad) influences are removed, and manners changed; and all under heaven there is entire repose.

Hence we have the saying, 'Where there is music there is joy.' Superior men rejoice in attaining to the course (which they wish to pursue); and smaller men in obtaining the things which they desire. When the objects of desire are regulated by a consideration of the course to be pursued, there is joy without any disorder. When those objects lead to the forgetfulness of that course, there is delusion, and no joy.

It is for this purpose that the superior man returns to the (good) affections (proper to his nature), in order to bring his will into harmony with them, and makes extensive use of music in order to perfect his instructions. When the music has free course, the people direct themselves to the quarter (to which they should proceed), and we can see (the power of) his virtue. Virtue is the strong stein of (man's) nature, and music is the blossoming of virtue. Metal, stone, silk, and bamboo are (the materials of which) the instruments of music (are made). Poetry gives expression to the thoughts; singing prolongs the notes (of the voice); pantomimic movements put the body into action (in harmony with the sentiments). These three things originate in the mind, and the instruments of the music accompany them. In this way the affections (from which comes the music) are deeply seated, and the elegant display of them is brilliant. All the energies (of the nature) are abundantly employed, and their transforming power is mysterious and spirit-like. A harmonious conformity (to virtue) is realised within, and the blossoming display of it is conspicuous without, for in music, more than other things, there should be nothing that is pretentious or hypocritical.

Music springs from the movement of the mind; the notes are the manifestation of the music; the elegant colours and various parts are the ornaments of the notes. The superior man puts its fundamental cause in movement, makes its manifesting notes into music, and regulates its ornaments.

Thus they first strike the drum to warn (the performers) to be in readiness, and (the pantomimes) take three steps to show the nature of the dance. This is done a second time and they begin to move forward; and when they have completed their evolutions, they return and dress their ranks. However rapid their movements may be, there is nothing violent in them; however mysterious they may be, they are not beyond the power of being understood. One, studying them alone, finds pleasure in the object of them, and does not tire in his endeavours to understand them. When he has fully understood them, he does not keep what he desires to himself. Thus the affections (of joy) are displayed; the (ideal) of righteousness is established; and when the music is ended, the (due) honour has been paid to virtue. Superior men by it nourish their love of what is good; small men in it hear the (correction of) their errors. Hence it is said, that 'for the courses to be pursued by men the influence of music is great.'

In music we have the outcome and bestowal (of what its framers felt); in ceremonies a return (for what their performers had received). Music expresses the delight in what produces it, and ceremonies lead the mind back to (the favours) which originate them. Music displays the virtue (of the framer); ceremonies are a return of the feelings (which led to them), as carrying the mind back to what originated them.

What is called 'a Grand carriage' is one which is (the gift) of the son of Heaven; the flag with dragons, and a nine-scolloped border, was the banner (conferred by) the son of Heaven; that with the azure and black edging exhibited the precious tortoises, and was (also the gift of) the son of Heaven; and when these were followed by herds of oxen and sheep, they were the gifts bestowed on the feudal lords.

In music we have the expression of feelings which do not admit of any change; in ceremonies that of principles which do not admit of any alteration. Music embraces what all equally share; ceremony distinguishes the things in which men differ. Hence the theory of music and ceremonies embraces the whole nature of man.

To go to the very root (of our feelings) and know the changes (which they undergo) is the province of music; to display sincerity and put away all that is hypocritical is the grand law of ceremonies. Ceremonies and music resemble the nature of Heaven and Earth, penetrate to the virtues of the spiritual Intelligences, bring down the spirits from above, and raise up those whose seat is below. They give a sort of substantial embodiment of what is most subtle as well as material, and regulate the duties between father and son, ruler and subject.

Therefore, when the Great man uses and exhibits his ceremonies and music, Heaven and Earth will in response to him display their brilliant influences. They will act in happy union, and the energies (of nature), now expanding, now contracting, will proceed harmoniously. The genial airs from above and the responsive action below will overspread and nourish all things. Then plants and trees will grow luxuriantly; curling sprouts and buds will expand; the feathered and winged tribes will be active; horns and antlers will grow; insects will come to the light and revive; birds will breed and brood; the hairy tribes will mate and bring forth; the mammalia will have no abortions, and no eggs will be broken or addled - and all will have to be ascribed to the power of music.

When we speak of music we do not mean the notes emitted by the Guang Zhong, Da Lu, (and the other musical pipes), the stringed instruments and the singing, or the (brandishing of the) shields and axes. These are but the small accessories of the music; and hence lads act as the pantomimes. (In the same way), the spreading of the mats, the disposing of the vases, and the arranging of the stands and dishes, with the movements in ascending and descending, are but the small accessories of ceremonies; and hence there are the (smaller) officers who direct them. The music-masters decide on the tunes and the pieces of poetry; and hence they have their places with their stringed instruments, and their faces directed to the north. The prayer-officers of the ancestral temple decide on the various ceremonies in it, and hence they keep behind the representatives of the deceased. Those who direct the mourning rites after the manner of the Shang dynasty, have their places (for the same reason) behind the presiding mourner. It is for this reason that the practice of virtue is held to be of superior worth, and the practice of any art of inferior; that complete virtue takes the first place, and the doing of anything, (however ingenious, only) the second. Therefore the ancient kings had their distinctions of superior and inferior, of first and last; and so they could frame their music and ceremonies for the whole kingdom.

The marquis Wen of Wei asked Zi-xia, saying, 'When in my square-cut dark robes and cap I listen to the ancient music, I am only afraid that I shall go to sleep. When I listen to the music of Kang and Wei, I do not feel tired; let me ask why I should feel so differently under the old and the new music.'

Zi-xia replied, 'In the old music, (the performers) advance and retire all together; the music is harmonious, correct, and in large volume; the stringed instruments (above) and those made from gourd shells with the organs and their metal tongues (below), are all kept waiting for the striking of the drum. The music first strikes up at the sound of the drum; and when it ends, it is at the sound of the cymbals. The close of each part of the performance is regulated by the Xiang, and the rapidity of the motions by the Ya. In (all) this the superior man speaks of, and follows, the way of antiquity. The character is cultivated; the family is regulated; and peace and order are secured throughout the kingdom. This is the manner of the ancient music.

'But now, in the new music, (the performers) advance and retire without any regular order; the music is corrupt to excess; there is no end to its vileness. Among the players there are dwarfs like monkeys, while boys and girls are mixed together, and there is no distinction between father and son. Such music can never be talked about, and cannot be said to be after the manner of antiquity. This is the fashion of the new music. What you ask about is music; and what you like is sound. Now music and sound are akin, but they are not the same.'

The marquis asked him to explain, and Zi-xia replied, 'In antiquity, Heaven and Earth acted according to their several natures, and the four seasons were what they ought to be. The people were virtuous, and all the cereals produced abundantly. There were no fevers or other diseases, and no apparitions or other prodigies. This was what we call "the period of great order." After this arose the sages, and set forth the duties between father and son, and between ruler and subject, for the guidance of society. When these guiding rules were thus correctly adjusted, all under heaven, there was a great tranquillity; after which they framed with exactness the six accords (upper and lower), and gave harmony to the five notes (of the scale), and the singing to the lutes of the odes and praise-songs; constituting what we call "the virtuous airs." Such virtuous airs constituted what we call "Music," as is declared in the Book of Poetry (III, i, ode 7, 4), 'Silently grew the fame of his virtue, His virtue was highly intelligent; Highly intelligent, and of rare discrimination; Able to lead, able to rule, To rule over this great country, Rendering a cordial submission, effecting a cordial union. When (the sway) came to king Wen, His virtue left nothing to be dissatisfied with. He received the blessing of God, And it was extended to his descendants." May I not say that what you love are the vile airs?'

The marquis said, "Let me ask where the vile airs come from?' Zi-xia replied, 'The airs of Zheng go to a wild excess, and debauch the mind; those of Song tell of slothful indulgence and women, and drown the mind; those of Wei are vehement and rapid, and perplex the mind; and those of Qi are violent and depraved, and make the mind arrogant. The airs of those four states all stimulate libidinous desire, and are injurious to virtue;--they should therefore not be used at sacrifices. It is said in the Book of Poetry (IV, i [Part ii], ode 5), "In solemn unison (the instruments) give forth their notes; Our ancestors will hearken to them." That solemn unison denotes the grave reverence and harmony of their notes - with reverence, blended with harmony, what is there that cannot be done?

'A ruler has only to be careful of what he likes and dislikes. What the ruler likes, his ministers will practise; and what superiors do, their inferiors follow. This is the sentiment in the Book of Poetry (III, ii, ode 10, 6), "To lead the people is very easy." Seeing this, and after (the repose of the people was secured), the sages made hand-drums and drums, the stopper and the starter, the earthen whistle and the bamboo flute - the six instruments which produced the sounds of their virtuous airs. After these came the bell, the sounding-stone, the organ with thirty-six pipes, and the large lute, to be played in harmony with them; the shields, axes, ox-tails, and plumes, brandished by the pantomimes in time and tune. These they employed at the sacrifices in the temple of the former kings, at festivals in offering and receiving the pledge cup; in arranging the services of officers (in the temple) according to the rank due to each, as noble or mean, and in showing to future ages how they observed the order due to rank and to age.

'The bells give out a clanging sound as a signal. The signal is recognised by all, and that recognition produces a martial enthusiasm. When the ruler hears the sound of the bell, he thinks of his officers of war. The sounding-stones give out a tinkling sound, as a summons to the exercise of discrimination. That discrimination may lead to the encountering of death. When the ruler hears the sounding-stone, he thinks of his officers who die in defence of his frontiers. The stringed instruments give out a melancholy sound, which produces the thought of purity and fidelity, and awakens the determination of the mind. When the ruler hears the sound of the lute and cithern, he thinks of his officers who are bent on righteousness. The instruments of bamboo give out a sound like that of overflowing waters, which suggests the idea of an assembly, the object of which is to collect the multitudes together. When the ruler hears the sound of his organs, pipes, and flutes, he thinks of his officers who gather the people together. The drums and tambours give out their loud volume of sound, which excites the idea of movement, and tends to the advancing of the host. When the ruler hears the sounds of his drums and tambours, he thinks of his leaders and commanders. When a superior man thus hears his musical instruments, he does not hear only the sounds which they emit. There are associated ideas which accompany these.'

Bin-mou Jia was sitting with Confucius. Confucius talked with him about music, and said, 'At (the performance of) the Wu, how is it that the preliminary warning (of the drum) continues so long?' The answer was, 'To show (the king's) anxiety that all his multitudes should be of one mind with him.'

'How is it that (when the performance has commenced) the singers drawl their notes so long, and the pantomimes move about till they perspire?' The answer was, 'To show his apprehension that some (princes) might not come up in time for the engagement.'

'How is it that the violent movement of the arms and stamping fiercely with the feet begin so soon?' The answer was, 'To show that the time for the engagement had arrived.'

'How is it that, (in the performance of the Wu,) the pantomimes kneel on the ground with the right knee, while the left is kept up?' The answer was, 'There should be no kneeling in the Wu.'

'How is it that the words of the singers go on to speak eagerly of Shang?' The answer was, 'There should be no such sounds in the Wu.'

'But if there should be no such sound in the Wu, where does it come from?' The answer was, 'The officers (of the music) failed to hand it down correctly. If they did not do so, the aim of king Wu would have been reckless and wrong.' The Master said, 'Yes, what I heard from Chang Hong was to the same effect as what you now say.'

Bin-mao Jia rose up, left his mat, and addressed Confucius, saying, 'On the long-continued warning (of the drum) in the Wu, I have heard your instructions; but let me ask how it is that after that first delay there is another, and that a long one?'

The Master said, 'Sit down, and I will tell you. Music is a representation of accomplished facts. The pantomimes stand with their shields, each erect and firm as a hill, representing the attitude of king Wu. The violent movements of the arms and fierce stamping represent the enthusiasm of Tai-gong. The kneeling of all at the conclusion of the performance represents the government (of peace, instituted) by (the dukes of) Zhou and Shao. Moreover, the pantomimes in the first movement proceed towards the north (to imitate the marching of king Wu against Shang); in the second, they show the extinction of Shang; in the third, they show the return march to the south; in the fourth, they show the laying out of the Southern states; in the fifth, they show how (the dukes of) Zhou and Shao were severally put in charge of the states on the left and right; in the sixth, they again unite at the point of starting to offer their homage to the son of Heaven. Two men, one on each side of the performers, excite them with bells, and four times they stop and strike and thrust, showing the great awe with which (king Wu) inspired the Middle states. Their advancing with these men on each side shows his eagerness to complete his helpful undertaking. The performers standing long together show how he waited for the arrival of the princes.