Shí-èr-lǜ (Chinese: 十二律, [ʂɻ̩̌.âɚ lŷ], 12 pitches) (twelve-pitch scale) was a standardized gamut of twelve notes.[1] Also known, rather misleadingly, as the Chinese chromatic scale, it was one kind of chromatic scale used in ancient Chinese music. The Chinese scale uses the same intervals as the Pythagorean scale, based on 2:3 ratios (8:9, 16:27, 64:81, etc.). The gamut or its subsets were used for tuning and are preserved in bells and pipes.[2]

Unlike the Western chromatic scale, the shí-èr-lǜ was not used as a scale in its own right; it is rather a set of fundamental notes on which other scales were constructed.[3]

The first reference to "standardization of bells and pitch" dates back to around 600 BCE, while the first description of the generation of pitches dates back to around 240 CE.[3]

Note names

There were 12 notes in total, which fall within the scope of one octave. Note that the mathematical method used by the ancient Chinese could never produce a true octave, as the next higher frequency in the series of frequencies produced by the Chinese system would be higher than 880 hertz.

See the article by Chen Ying-shi.[4]

See also

Further reading

  • Reinisch, Richard (?). Chinesische Klassische Musik, p. 30. Books On Demand. ISBN 978-3-8423-4502-7.


  1. Joseph C.Y. Chen (1996). Early Chinese Work in Natural Science: A Re-examination of the Physics of Motion, Acoustics, Astronomy and Scientific Thoughts, p. 96. ISBN 962-209-385-X.
  2. Chen (1996), p.97.
  3. Needham, Joseph (1962/2004). Science and Civilization in China, Vol. IV: Physics and Physical Technology, p.170-171. ISBN 978-0-521-05802-5.
  4. 一种体系 两个系统 by 陈应时 (Yi zhong ti-xi, liang ge xi-tong by Chen Ying-shi of the Shanghai Conservatory), Musicology in China, 2002, Issue 4, 中国音乐学,2002,第四 期
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.