Tag Archives: Confucius on music

Rich and beautiful music

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子曰:「師摯之始,關睢之亂,洋洋乎盈耳哉。」
Confucius said: “What rich and beautiful music fills my ears when Zhi, the master of music, is conducting – right from the opening passage through to the finale of the Ospreys!”

I have commented on Confucius’s love of music before. Master Zhi was a famous court musician of the state of Lu; the Ospreys is the first poem in the Book of Songs. Continue reading Rich and beautiful music

Analects of Confucius Book 7: new English translation

Read this new English translation of the Analects of Confucius Book 7 to learn more about the teachings of China’s most famous philosopher. It provides a vivid portrait of the sage’s personality and motivations, as well as his opinions on various followers and other contemporary and historical figures.

Chapter 1
子曰:「述而不作,信而好古,竊比於我老彭。」
Confucius said: “I transmit but I don’t create. I am faithful to and love the past. In this respect, I dare to compare myself with Old Peng.”
Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 7: new English translation

Perfectly good?

子謂韶,「盡美矣,又盡善也。」謂武,「盡美矣,未盡善也。」
Confucius described the music of the Emperor Shun as being perfectly beautiful and perfectly good and the music of King Wu as being perfectly beautiful but not perfectly good.

The Emperor Shun was the legendary sage king of ancient China in the 23rd or 22nd century BC. He reportedly ruled for nearly fifty years after the previous ruler Yao had abdicated in favor of him because of his higher virtue. Confucius therefore judged his music (said by some sources to be some kind of orchestral ballet) to be “perfectly good” as well as “perfectly beautiful” because it reflected of the emperor’s fine moral character. Continue reading Perfectly good?

The music master

子語魯大師樂,曰:「樂其可知也:始作,翕如也;從之,純如也,皦如也,繹如也,以成。」
Confucius was talking about music with the music master of Lu. He said: “We can know this much about music: It begins with everyone trying to play together; when it gets in full swing it flows harmoniously, clearly, and continuously until it reaches the end.”

Confucius regarded music as being at the very apex of human civilization. Continue reading The music master