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Traditional Chinese Music: Five Elements, Five Tones

By Dr. Zhiping Chen, Special to The EpochTimes-

Ancient Chinese music was based on the Five Elements. (Courtesy of NTDTV)

Ancient Chinese music was based on the Five Elements. (Courtesy of NTDTV)

Chinese music is based on the ancient Chinese pentatonic, five-tone musical system. The five tones are classified as: Kung, Shang, Chiao, Chih and Yue.

According to the Chinese theory of the Five Elements, related to Chinese music, the tones are connected to a myriad of cosmological concepts, as well as the inner workings of man.

Chinese do not see it as coincidence that human beings have five internal organs: heart, liver, lungs, kidneys and spleen; and five sensory organs: mouth, nose, eyes, ears and tongue; and five fingers on each hand.

According to Chinese tradition, any of these five tones can affect a human being’s internal organs and might act as a regulatory mechanism. Music can increase metabolism, open thought processes, and regulate the heart. Because everyone’s makeup is different, one person’s internal organs are different to the next person’s, and the music touches people in different ways.

Elements

Metal

Wood

Water

Fire

Earth

Tones

Shang

Chueh

Yue

Chih

Keng

Directions

West

East

North

South

Center

Seasons

Autumn

Spring

Winter

Summer

Change of seasons

Planets

Venus

Jupiter

Mercury

Mars

Saturn

Emotions

Grief

Anger

Fear

Over-excitement

Anxiety

According to the five basic tones, one can detect different influences in the human body.

For instance, Kung-based melodies are classified as noble, Earth-related, and affect the spleen. Often listening to such music makes one tolerant and kind.

Shang melodies are heavy, like metal, unbending. This music affects the lungs; and frequent listening makes one righteous and friendly.

Chueh-based music heralds the arrival of spring and awakens all life anew. This kind of music affects the liver. Listening to it makes one kindhearted and conciliatory.

Chih music is highly emotional, like fire. It affects the heart. But listening to it makes one generous.

Yue-based tunes are melancholy, like placidly running water. They affect the kidneys. Listening to these tunes makes one mentally balanced and gentle, “sad but not hurt,” and “content but not to excess,” as the ancient Chinese saying goes. This is what the culture of Chinese music attempts to convey.

No matter which emotions the music expresses, taken to the extreme, it can harm the body and the flow of qi energy.

Dr. Chen has practiced traditional Chinese and alternative medicine and acupuncture in Seattle, Washington for more than ten years. She is originally from Taiwan and came across the connection between music and health when treating asthma patients. She has lectured on the connection between music and health since 2004.

– Source: The Epochtimes

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