Culture Technology

China’s 2,400-year-old Chime Bells Enter Digital Age

The Hubei Provincial Museum in Wuhan City recently completed the digital sampling of its 2,400-year-old Zenghouyi chime bells, according to a China News report.

Consisting of 65 bells, the set was unearthed in 1978 from the tomb of Zenghouyi, a ruler of the Zeng State during the Warring States Period (475-221 B.C.), in Suizhou City, Central China’s Hubei Province.

It is by far the largest, heaviest, best-preserved, and finest set of chime bells ever unearthed in China, representing the pinnacle of bronze musical instrument-making at the time.

In a bid to protect this valuable relic, the original version has only been played three times, with the latest samplings collected from an accurate replica.

The chime bell orchestra of Hubei Provincial Museum has collected 613 sound samplings, striking the front and sides of each bell with varying levels of intensity, said Luo Le, the orchestra’s composer. 

The racks and bells are inscribed with 3,755 Chinese characters. /CFP

Using digital techniques to protect ancient instruments represents the latest use of innovative technology, added Luo. This not only preserves the appearance of the original instrument, but also records its sounds from time immemorial.

The collected samples have already been used in an online concert, offering audiences an immersive experience of this ancient instrument.

A replica set of the Zenghouyi chime bells is featured in a concert held by Hubei Provincial Museum. /CFP

As the sounds of the bells have been made available on a mini program on WeChat, composition lovers can create their own melodies just by clicking on the various chimes and arranging them together.

The museum will also record the sounds of other ancient instrument among its collection.

Source: CGTN