Speaker:Professor Patricia Berger
ELSLEY ZEITLYN LECTURE ON CHINESE ARCHAEOLOGY AND CULTUREMore about the Elsley Zeitlyn Lectures on Chinese Archaeology and Culture
Elsley Zeitlyn Lecture in Chinese Archaeology and Culture, delivered by Professor Robert Bagley, on 26 October 2004. The tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng (d.433 BC), excavated by Chinese archaeologists in 1978, contained thirty well-preserved musical instruments. The most spectacular are a set of 41 chimestones and a set of 65 bells, both of which carry lengthy inscriptions concerning pitches, scales, and transposition. These inscriptions are the earliest texts on music yet known from China, and the bells still sound the pitches that their inscriptions refer to. After describing the chromatic instruments and their inscriptions, the lecture will try to account for the theoretical understanding they exhibit by proposing a hypothetical prehistory for Chinese music. It will be argued that Chinese music theory before the Marquis of Zeng's time differed significantly from the music theory of later periods, and that the startlingly early appearance of the chromatic scale in China is connected with that difference.