The Magic Flutes
Researchers in China have uncovered what might be the oldest playable musical instrument. Their work is described in a paper published in the September 23 issue of the scientific journal Nature. Recent excavations at the early Neolithic site of Jiahu, located in Henan province, China, have yielded six complete bone flutes between 7,000 and 9,000 years old. Fragments of approximately 30 other flutes were also discovered. The flutes may be the earliest complete, playable, tightly-dated, multinote musical instruments.

The exquisitely-crafted flutes are all made from the ulnae, or wing bones, of the red-crowned crane (Grus japonensis Millen) and have five, six, seven or eight holes. The best-preserved flute has been played and tonally analyzed in tests at the Music School of the Art Institute of China. more

An Interview with Chou Wen-Chung

"I do feel, and this is also very Asian, very Chinese, very Confucianist, that an artist is in fact the conscience of society, of culture. So you do have a responsibility. In Chinese history, all the great writers, artists, and so on functioned in some other capacity. In that time they were government officials, but today they would function in different capacities. As a result, some of the greatest artists and poets did not write enough, but what they wrote was their experience. They were functioning, playing a role in the society..." more


Jazz came to China for the first time on the afternoon of June 2, 1981, when the American bassist and French-horn player Willie Ruff introduced himself and his partner, the pianist Dwike Mitchell, to several hundred students and professors who were crowded into a large room at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. The students and the professors were all expectant, without knowing quite what to expect. They only knew that they were about to hear the first American jazz concert ever presented to the Chinese. Probably they were not surprised to find that the two musicians were black, though black Americans are a rarity in the People's Republic. What they undoubtedly didn't expect was that Ruff would talk to them in Chinese... more

"Fossil Music"

This traditional type of music has been well and truly kept alive for thousands of years. It is an ancient music preserved by the Naxi people, an ethnic group from Lijiang, a remote town in Southwest China's Yunnan Province.The first is called "Baisha Xiyue" (White Sands and Elegant Music), which is played on traditional string and woodwind instruments. The other type is "Dongjing Music" (Cave Scripture Music) which originated from Taoist and Buddhist ritual music and was "imported" to Naxi from Jiangsu and Sichuan provinces after the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907)... more

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