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Chinese philosophers took varying approaches to music.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.It also includes music produced by people of Chinese origin in some territories outside mainland China using traditional Chinese instruments or in the Chinese language.It covers a highly diverse range of music from the traditional to the modern."Correct" music according to Zhou concept would involve instruments correlating to the five elements of nature and would bring harmony to nature.Around or before the 7th century BC, a system of pitch generation and pentatonic scale was derived from a cycle-of-fifths theory.

During the Zhou Dynasty, a formal system of court and ceremonial music later termed yayue (meaning "elegant music") was established.The oldest extant written Chinese music is "Youlan" (幽蘭) or the Solitary Orchid, composed during the 6th or 7th century, but has also been attributed to Confucius.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.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.

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