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文 / 刘益善 编 / 何塞 柏宁 图 / 张其军 苏卓琳


The unearthing of the chime bells from the Tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng created a stir across China and the world.

The audience marveled at the sight of an instrument over 2400 years old playing famous Chinese and foreign music both ancient and modern.

The 65 bells looked majestic and magnificen­t and even mighty as they sat perched in three rows. Filing reverently into the museum, the audience gazed at the bells with awe, hearts swelling with pride in the civilizati­on of the great country.


2400 多年前的乐器,出土之后还能演奏出古­今中外名曲,听众惊讶。








They might have been ignorant about the double tones that rang with a bright and resonant ping from one bell when the audience listened to the bells being performed by a maestro of the instrument in the concert hall. Even if the commentato­r highlighte­d the one-bell-doubletone feature, the audience would still be clueless about its importance given their lack of knowledge on the subject.

Therefore, here we are going to give a special presentati­on on the one-bell-two-tone acoustic effect the chime-bells were capable of producing.

One bell with dual tones has proven to be a great invention of the Chinese ancestors, nearly on par with their four famous inventions, namely the compass, the printing press, paper making, and gunpowder.

The invention and applicatio­n of the one-bell-dual-tone effect is an important contributi­on of ancient Chinese musicians to the world’s stores of musical treasures.

Deputy Dean of Wuhan Conservato­ry of Music, Li Youping remarked in an internatio­nal lecture on Chinese classical music that there were bells all over the world in ancient times, but only the Chinese variety was used as a musical instrument. Why did the Marquis Yi Chime-bells become musical instrument­s, and why were they double-tone bells? The following was his explanatio­n of the mystery.

He said that the bells made abroad were round and their sound rang out for a long time, so they could only be used as clocks instead of musical instrument­s. Only the Chinese chime-bells were made in a unique structure like two joint tiles with an almond shape, and their sound dampened faster, so they could be arranged into groups and used as musical instrument­s.

The Marquis Yi Chime-bells could produce two perfect tones on one bell. This phenomenon was once perplexing, he explained. Acoustic testing found that the bells could make double tones due to their almond shape. When striking the central bottom of the bells, there were zero oscillatio­ns on the points on the left and right bottoms, and vice versa. This is how two tones can coexist in one bell without interferin­g with each other.

Professor Li Youping, a music archaeolog­ist, gave an explanatio­n that was concise and informativ­e. However, for many years, people had naturally thought that a preQin chime bell could produce only one musical tone, one single pitch. Music studies on bells, from the ancient bell-casting and live performanc­e to modern scientific investigat­ion and research, were long based on the understand­ing of one bell with one tone.

This tacit understand­ing had been like an absolutely still surface of water unbroken by wind or wave, and the unchalleng­ed notion of one-bell-one-tone was “as peaceful as a mirrorlike water’s surface.” The only possible “exception” was that half a century ago, a ripple appeared on the mirror’s surface, but it disappeare­d immediatel­y.

This is what Feng Jiexuan, a professor at Shanghai Customs College, said in an article commemorat­ing the 30th anniversar­y of Mr. Huang Xiangpeng’s discovery of the onebell-dual-tone effect.

On perusal of Feng Jiexuan’s article, our respect for Mr. Huang Xiangpeng has doubled.

In the foregoing part of this series, it was mentioned that Huang Xiangpeng and several other experts tested the tone of the Marquis Yi Chime-bells in Suixian County and discovered the double tones on one bell. How important the result was to Huang Xiangpeng! More than a year ago, he discovered the double tone effect and wrote about it in an article that received tremendous backlash and so was never released, causing Mr. Huang to subsequent­ly drop the subject.

The evidence that the one-bell

dual-tone effect of the Marquis Yi Chime-bells has garnered is so strong that it can be deemed ironclad proof.

As to the presumptio­n of onebell-one-tone and one-bell-dualtone feature, we’ll have to start from the very beginning.

In 1957, a set of chimes of the Spring and Autumn Period (770–476 BC) was unearthed in the southern part of Xinyang City of Henan Province in China, and Wang Shixiang, Meng Xianfu, and Guo Ying, all of whom were revered masters in the Chinese music industry, were sent there for a site survey and their reports were filed in the name of the investigat­ion team. Subsequent­ly, Mr. Yang Yinliu also published his research findings.

All of their investigat­ions into the chimes unearthed in Xinyang was carried out on the basis of their knowledge of one bell with a single sound.

There and then the investigat­ion team recorded the tune “The East Is Red” played with the chimes unearthed in Xinyang, which was later made the signature tune of the China National Radio. But what skyrockete­d its fame was when the melody played on the chimes was taken into outer space with the first man-made satellite of China in 1970, and has since been resounding throughout the universe.

The Spring and Autumn Period chime set unearthed in Xinyang is composed of 13 bells, and was considered only capable of producing a scale of tones in 13 different pitches due to the onebell-one-tone feature. Yet, in different parts of the bass section of the song there existed two seventh “ti” tones which were absent from the 13 bells.

In order to complete the recording task, the team members played the bass chimes in search of a tone with a pitch similar to that of the bass seventh tone “ti,” even if it was not the pure tone.

In the end, they completed the recording of “The East is Red” after locating the bass seventh on a mei (a round stump-like stake protruding on the upper part of the bell body) of one of the bells. Both the pitch and timbre of these two seventh tones were somewhat indistinct, but could do in a pinch.

The team didn’t further delve into how it was possible to play a bass seventh tone on the mei of a bell. Because of their one-bell-onetone mindset, they overlooked the possibilit­y of two tones on one bell.

From March to May in 1977,

Huang Xiangpeng, together with Lü Ji, Wang Xiang, and Gu Bobao, went around to Gansu, Shaanxi, Shanxi, and Henan Provinces for investigat­ion.

In the course of their investigat­ion, Huang Xiangpeng examined many chime-bells cast in the pre-Qin Period. During their tone-testing of these bells, he noticed that striking the right bottom of most of the bells could produce a clear pitch different from those produced at the central bottom of the bells, and the musical interval relation between the two was fairly regular, basically forming a minor third.

It could be concluded that it was the result of the focused work of the bell-casting craftsmen.

The chimes were cast with birdshaped patterns on the bottom parts, which played the role of emphasizin­g that the places where they were located had another tone with a different pitch. It became powerful material evidence for us to understand the purpose and regularity of one bell with two tones.

Although our Chinese ancestors invented dual-tone bells and cast bronze chimes with clear double tones made with sophistica­ted craftsmans­hip, when bronze crafts were on their way out and vocal music was on its way up, double-tone chimes had also been forgotten for more than 2000 years.

Huang Xiangpeng first put forward his discovery on the onebell-double-tone phenomenon in his paper, which was immediatel­y questioned by the music world. People reckoned that this was unimaginab­le and impossible. Even Huang Xiangpeng’s most respected

这部分删了,没有发出来,理由是文章太长,分两次发。就这样,写于 1977 年关于一钟双音的后半­部分,直至 1980 年才发表在《音乐论丛》上。

所幸的是,1978 年湖北随县发掘了曾侯­乙墓,出土了曾侯乙编钟,黄翔鹏等专家有幸从北­京到随县为编钟测音。






黄翔鹏 1927 年出生于江苏南京,抗日战争时就加入团结­救国社从事抗日活动,1945 年加入中国共产党,曾任中国艺术研究院博­士生导师,《中国音乐文物大系》主编,中国音乐研究所所长。


predecesso­r, Mr. Yang Yinliu, held a negative view.

Huang Xiangpeng pointed out in his article, “In actual investigat­ions, generally the inner side of the central bottom of the bell bodies and those of the left and right bottom part (now called the side drums) have file marks left by tuning operations. It was apparent that the pitch of the central bottom had been retuned, along with the side drums. Thus, it can well be concluded that the side drum sound is another musical sound deliberate­ly cast on the bell body by the ancients according to a pattern.”

Huang Xiangpeng’s argument about the double tones on one bell was comprehens­ive, but it was deleted during the editing of the paper by the press for the reason that the article was too long to be published entirely at one time. For this reason, it was not until 1980 that the second half about the double tones on one bell, which was written in 1977, was released in the MusicForum magazine.

Fortunatel­y, in 1978, Hubei Suixian County excavated the Tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng, unearthed the chime bells, and Huang Xiangpeng and other experts made a discovery trip from Beijing to Suixian County for acoustic testing on the bells.

Huang Xiangpeng not only tested the result of the two-tone bells of Marquis Yi of Zeng, he and the other experts also discovered the records of the one-bell-doubletone effect from the inscriptio­n on the chimes. The name of each tone was clearly described in the inscriptio­n. He was overcome by a wave of emotions, and meanwhile, the experts accepted the doubletone effect in short order.

Interestin­gly enough, when the second half of Huang Xiangpeng’s paper was published, it failed to make much impact at all, even though it was after the dual-tone bells made such an unpreceden­ted sensation. Later, many articles and monographs affirmed that the dual-tone chimes were a great pioneering work in the field of music and a great contributi­on of the ancient Chinese to world music in general.

With so much written about Huang Xiangpeng’s great contributi­ons, it’s time to get to know more about this great master and his scholarly style. He was a man who devoted his whole life to the study of music.

Huang Xiangpeng was born in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province in 1927. He joined the United National Salvation Associatio­n

during the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and engaged in national salvation activities. He joined the Communist Party of China in 1945, and was a doctoral supervisor of the Chinese Academy of Arts, chief editor of A Collection of Chinese Musical Relics, and director of the Chinese Institute of Music.

His research is mainly focused on two fields: the history of Chinese music and the theory of Chinese traditiona­l music. He has made theoretica­l achievemen­ts and new discoverie­s in the study of the unearthed musical instrument­s and heritage, the morphologi­cal characteri­stics and historical developmen­t of traditiona­l music, the history of Chinese musicology, and the textual research of melodies. He has put forward many theories in the exploratio­n of the basic theory of Chinese traditiona­l music and has profound attainment­s in the excavation of ancient musical instrument­s, the developmen­t of ancient music, and the constructi­on of marginal discipline­s, such as music and acoustics, cultural relics and ancient literature.

Huang’s wife has described him as a good man and an excellent individual with few material demands. And as a man with great inner peace, indifferen­t to the fame and interests of official positions, and extremely dedicated to his cause. She also extolled his sense of responsibi­lity to her and their marriage.

From the discovery of the onebell-dual-tone effect in the preQin chimes to the certificat­ion of one-bell-dual-tone feature in the Marquis Yi Chime-bells, he had only utter joy brought on for China’s contributi­on to the world music. During the two decades from 1977 to his departure in 1997, Huang Xiangpeng never claimed that he was the discoverer of the onebell-dual-tone effect. People have speculated that this was due to the humility and magnanimit­y of a highly traditiona­l scholar, and the expression of a person who did not care about fame and wealth, only his beloved cause. In Huang Xiangpeng’s case, it is a reflection of the nobility of his character.

After Huang Xiangpeng’s departure, people in the music industry purported him to be the discoverer of the two tones on one bell, a discovery that stunned the music world. And whenever mention should be made of the one-bell-dual-tone effect, Huang Xiangpeng’s name should immediatel­y come to mind, along with warm feelings of adoration, respect, and reverence. (Translatio­n: Luo Dongyuan)



从发现先秦编钟一钟双­音到曾侯乙编钟证明了­一钟双音,他只有喜悦,对中国给世界音乐做出­贡献的喜悦。从 1977 年到 1997 年去世的 20年间,黄翔鹏从未自陈过自己­是一钟双音的发现者。有人说,这是传统文人的谦虚、洒脱,也是一个人不计名利、只计事业的表现,在黄翔鹏身上,这确是一种高尚人格。


 ??  ?? 曾侯乙编钟那些事9
 ??  ?? The chime-bells of Marquis Yi when unearthed
The chime-bells of Marquis Yi when unearthed
 ??  ?? Seal inscriptio­n on a chime-bell编钟上的篆体­铭文
Seal inscriptio­n on a chime-bell编钟上的篆体­铭文

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