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.
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。
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。