The Wonder of Music Lies in Its Virtue

"Enchanting Rhythms of Chinese Music" - Edmonton Source: Flickr/IQRemix

China used to be regarded as the land of ritual music. In The Book of Rites it says, “Music represents harmony between heaven and earth”, which means that music represents the most harmonious state of all things in heaven and on earth. The best music would provide people with harmony and encourage people towards kindness. Looking at today’s society, such an educational meaning of “music” has disappeared. Instead, music has become a tool for people to give bent to selfish, carnal desires. Contemporary pop music is filled with sensual desires and selfish resentment. Even worse are those brainwashing “red songs” of Communist China, as they are full of hypocritical praise and promote a fighting mentality. 

Music exerts a subtle influence on people’s minds. Once music is provided for lyrics, people can naturally recall the lyrics when they hum the tune. After the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) usurped state power, they replaced the lyrics of some good folk songs with lyrics that praised themselves, and used various means to popularize such songs nationwide in an attempt to change people’s minds with a soft approach. People may be able to resist coercive brainwashing, but are generally off guard against such cultural phenomena in their daily lives. People sing these songs day and night, and before they know it, their minds are embedded with CCP concepts. This in turn has provided a sufficient cover-up of the CCP’s suppression of the Chinese people, misleading people to think that whatever wrongs people suffer, it is always the individual’s fault and that the “Party” is forever glorious. Even though various other cultures have made their way into China, and people have started to enjoy a variety of music, they are still forced to sing “red songs”. Companies and universities have held all kinds of “red songs” contests, in an attempt to instill people’s minds with CCP concepts. 

Ancient people have long realized that music can help educate and influence people, and it can also be used to destroy the country. The allusion of how decadent and immoral music on the Pu River led to dynastic elimination is one such story. It was said that during the Spring and Autumn Period (722 – 481 BC), Duke Ling of Wei went to visit the Jin State. On his way there, he stayed overnight on the Pu River. There he heard the sound of a stringed instrument at midnight and he asked musician Shi Juan to write down the music. When he arrived in the Jin State and met with Duke Ping of Jin, he asked Shi Juan to play the music he had written down. When the Jin State’s musician Shi Kuang heard it, he put his hand on the strings and stopped the music, saying, “This is music of state subjugation. It was decadent music written by musician Shi Yan for King Zhou of the Shang Dynasty. When King Wu launched an attack against King Zhou, Shi Yan fled towards the east. When he came to Pu River, he jumped into the river and committed suicide; so whoever hears this music, his state will surely decline.” Later, such music was regarded as music of state subjugation. 

How can one differentiate between “music of state subjugation” and “music of state prosperity”? It depends on what the music expresses: whether it is virtue or resentment. 

The Book of Rites explains that the inner spirit of music is harmony, not chaos, and the role of music is to make people happy with loving kindness. Therefore, we can see that the highest realm of “music” is that it can lead to “a disposition of harmony”. Music that can help people maintain a tranquil mind and enlighten to kindness is truly good music. What do those “red songs” bring about then? They are permeated with deep resentment. From an artistic angle, one can clearly see they are of low quality. For example, take the CCP’s original song “Internationale”; it expresses a strong fighting mentality, hatred for God, and contempt for everything in ancient culture. CCP music thereafter reflects this same mentality. The CCP uses vigorous music to express intense emotions and to establish the “image” of the “Party”. If we take a look at our traditional culture, we will find that China has always been a tolerant country since ancient times and does not discriminate against foreign cultures. On the contrary, any culture that has set foot on the soil of China would leave their best attributes in the temperament of the Chinese nation and become assimilated to the Chinese nation. CCP culture is the opposite. Their “red songs” encourage people to destroy all traditions and to sever their belief in the divine so as to establish their own idolatry. When people sing such songs, they unwittingly accept the CCP’s arrogance, which fights against heaven and earth as well as the people; what they worship is blood and a spirit filled with hatred. There is complete absence of human kindness in such songs. When people listen to this music frequently, they will feel irritable, and when this music has become part of their life, they will gradually lose their original kindness and tolerance. 

Then what kind of music is truly elegant and righteous? Truly good music should be “virtuous music” that is good in connotation and beautiful in form. Such music can guide people with its kind connotations and entertain people with its beautiful form, thus guiding people towards kindness and beauty. The beauty of life lies in one’s inner elevation that allows one to return to one’s true self instead of simply enjoying oneself to one’s heart content. 

The wonder of music lies in its virtue. Music without virtue is no different than decadent, obscene music, and it will drag people into the abyss, whereas music of virtue will enable one to find his true self and enlighten to the true value of life.

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