in The Crafting of the 10,000 Things

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780226735849
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226735856 | DOI:

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This chapter demonstrates the original structure and actual dynamics of Song Yingxing's knowledge presentation. It engages with the physicality of sound in Song's concept of qi, his idea of the human voice, and hearing ability. Song's coherent survey into qi harmony and dissonance confirmed the existence of Chinese knowledge about theoretical acoustics. “Hearing” supplemented “seeing” in Song's repertoire of objectively analyzing the order of heaven. He observed that the principle correlating the production of sound and the return to silence was similar to that of the growth and decay of materials. It is shown that Song's treatises on sound and sound production verified his idea of a world functioning according to the principles of qi. In his inquiry into sound, Song refused to embrace the world of delusions and depravity in which he lived, a world “made by man,” emphasizing that order was provided within things and natural phenomena.

Keywords: knowledge; acoustics; qi; Song Yingxing; human voice; hearing; harmony; sound

Chapter.  11195 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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