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The first major well-documented flowering of Chinese music was for the qin during the Tang Dynasty (618-907AD), though the qin is known to have been played since before the Han Dynasty.

This is based on the conjecture that because the recorded examples of Chinese music are ceremonial, and the ceremonies in which they were employed are thought to have existed "perhaps more than one thousand years before Christ", the musical compositions themselves were performed, even in 1000 BC, in precisely the manner prescribed by the sources that were written down in the seventh century AD.

To Confucius, a correct form of music is important for the cultivation and refinement of the individual, and the Confucian system considers the formal music yayue to be morally uplifting and the symbol of a good ruler and stable government.

According to Mencius, a powerful ruler once asked him whether it was moral if he preferred popular music to the classics.

The answer was that it only mattered that the ruler loved his subjects.

In ancient China the social status of musicians was much lower than that of painters, though music was seen as central to the harmony and longevity of the state.

One of the Confucianist Classics, Shi Jing 詩經 (The Classic of Poetry), contained many folk songs dating from 800 BC to about 400 BC.The Kuomintang tried to sponsor modern music adoptions via the Shanghai Conservatory of Music despite the ongoing political crisis.Twentieth-century cultural philosophers like Xiao Youmei, Cai Yuanpei, Feng Zikai and Wang Guangqi wanted to see Chinese music adopted to the best standard possible.It covers a highly diverse range of music from the traditional to the modern.Different types of music have been recorded in historical Chinese documents from the early periods of Chinese civilization which, together with archaeological artifacts discovered, provided evidence of a well-developed musical culture as early as the Zhou Dynasty (1122 BC – 256 BC).

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