Music as a Tool for Self-Realization in Chinese Culture: Based on the Practice of Playing the Guqin
Music has always held an important place in Chinese culture and it has been deeply related to philosophy for ages. In fact, one could say it played a key role in creating Chinese culture and civilisation. It could be assumed that one of the most important concepts of this culture—the Harmony—has its roots in music-making practice and musical terminology. Music was very strongly related to the official social ideology/philosophy of the empire, the Confucianism. As an integral part of the rituals, it became one of the elements ensuring social order. Besides its social/global function, music was an issue of great importance in the practice of achieving one’s personal excellence. There is a strong correlation between music and the Chinese idea of a sage, which in the Middle Kingdom is associated with the sense of hearing (not with sight, as it is in the Mediterranean tradition). The musical instrument guqin became an inalienable attribute of a sage and the practice of playing this instrument became a way to wisdom, allowing to improve one’s cognition and action. This paper will present the relations between playing the qin, philosophy, and learning wisdom.
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