Chinese Characters for Music: Yīn Yuè 音樂19 April, 2013 at 07:02 | Posted in Chinese culture, Music | Leave a comment
Tags: chinese characters, Chinese culture
Conveying the special significance of music,
literally ‘the sound of happiness’
The Chinese characters 音樂 (yīn yuè) stand for music. 音 is the character for sound, while 樂 refers to music itself as well as the concepts of happiness, pleasure, and enjoyment. The two characters combined literally mean “the sound of happiness.”
The ancient Chinese regarded music as a tool to contact the gods, and music was not only for enjoyment and entertainment but also part of sacred ceremony to reunite humankind with Heaven.
In addition, music is the ancestor of medicine and its primary purpose in ancient China was to heal illness. The character for medicine, 藥 (yào), is derived from the character for music.
藥 comprises two parts: 樂 at the bottom and the radical 艹 at the top, which refers to grass, herbs, and other grass-related plants. Following discovery of the healing effects of herbs, 艹 and 樂 were combined to form 藥.