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CultureDaily Drip

Watch: 9,000 Years of Chinese Musical History at an Arizona Museum

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Our usual beat around here is to cover Chinese music from the last 20 years or so, but we’re not against covering older material. On that front, we’ve just stumbled on this short video of an exhibition currently on view at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, Arizona entitled Ancient Musical Treasures from Central China: Harmony of the Ancients from the Henan Museum. This is some really old music:

Ancient flutes and drums harken back to the dawn of Chinese civilization, giving us a glimpse of the musical life of an early agrarian society. Grand racks of bronze bells evoke elaborate rituals performed during the formative years of Chinese culture. Lively ceramic figures illustrate the joyful mixing of cultures during the time of the legendary Silk Road. Elegant silk strings entertain gatherings of refined music lovers and inspire poetic contemplation.

In addition to a collection of exquisite musical instruments, the exhibition also features beautiful music-related artworks made of materials such as ceramic and jade. Many of these instruments and artworks were excavated from tombs of nobility.

If you find yourself in Phoenix, pop in to MIM before May 6 to check out exhibit highlights such as a 9,000-year-old bird bone flute and a 2,500-year-old “divine beast” drum stand (pictured up top). Otherwise, check out this short video just released by Voice of America:

And as a bonus, here’s a short clip of a member of Henan Museum’s Huaxia Orchestra playing on a modern version of ancient stone chimes, released shortly after the November 2017 opening of the exhibition:

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Josh Feola
Josh Feola is a Shanghai-based writer and musician, and RADII's Culture Editor. His coverage of Chinese music and art has appeared in The Wire, Dazed, Artsy, LEAP, Tiny Mix Tapes, and more. He's been active in China's underground music scene since 2010 via his booking platform pangbianr.com, and is a former member of Beijing bands Chui Wan, SUBS, and Vagus Nerve.

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