Memoire sur la musique des Chinois

Jean-Joseph Marie Amiot
Paris, 1779
Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library
Mus 198.1.6

Click for full-size imageThe multivolume report, Memoire concernant l'histoire des chinois (1776-1814), was based on Amiot's own observations at the Chinese court. While Amiot sought to rectify some European misconceptions about Chinese music, his text still contained numerous errors. This edition is the later version edited by Pierre-Joseph Roussier.
Additional plates, taken from Amiot's original edition, show percussion and string instruments, including the qin, the multi-stringed zither zheng 箏, a set of bronze bells bianzhong 編鐘, and stone chimes bianqing 編磬.
In the West, the hand was depicted since at least the 12th century as a mnemonic device for locating semitones and hexachords in a scale. Here, Amiot uses a hand to show seven Chinese “modes” and their characteristic 律, or scale degrees. Contrast Amiot's use of the hand with the instructional representation in the Chinese treatise "Reminiscent Sounds of Utmost Antiquity."

(Click image for full-sized reproduction)

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