Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Bell Chimes from the Chinese Bronze Age

Saturday, March 31, 2018 at Bard College 9:30 am - 4:30 pm, I attended the Conference - Harmony And Power: The Role of Music in the Cultivation of the Literati in Ancient China

The Second talk in the morning section was presented by Prof. Lothar Von Falkenhausen from University of California, Los Angeles (Art History, Archeology)
Comments: Patricia Karetzky, Bard College (Art History)

His talk was:
Music to the Ears of Confucius: Bell Chimes from the Chinese Bronze Age

I did not take many photos of his slides, therefore I used some information I found on-line to help my study. 

編鐘 Bian Zhong (A set of bronze bells. Zhong means bells)

Three major bell types:

甬鐘 Yong Zhong 各部位名稱 (names of each parts on the Yong Zhong) (棒狀掛頭, 橋型鐘口)

紐鐘 Niu Zhong (環狀掛頭, 橋型鐘口)

鎛鐘 Bo Bell (平口)


The difference between Yong bell and Niu bell is in the hanging mechanism. The Niu bell has a vertical suspension device while Yong bell has a cylindrical suspension device. The Bo bell is usually used as a single bell with a flat bottom opening, not like Yong and Niu bells which have a curved bottom opening. The Bo bell is much larger than the Yong bell and Niu bell. (Picture : the one in the middle on the ground)

Each bell can create two tones, according to Prof. Falkenhausen, they were design specifically to create two tones. The caster knew ahead of time which two tones they would make, before they made them. This formula for knowing which specific size and shape to cast a bell to achieve two specific tones has been lost. 

For Prof. Falkenhausen's talk, please listen from this video. (This sound recording is for private study use only, please do not share. Thank you.)

I recommend a fantastic catalog about the set of bronze bells at tomb of Marquis Yi of Zheng: 
Music in the Age of Confucius, 
published by the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. in the year 2000.

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