Ling Lun

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Ling Lun (Chinese: or ) is the legendary founder of music in ancient China.[1] In Chinese mythology, as described in the Lüshi Chunqiu (in Chinese: 吕氏春秋), he was said to have created bamboo flutes which made the sounds of many birds, including the mythical phoenix.[2] "In this way, he invented the five notes of the ancient Chinese five-tone scale (gong, shang, jiao, zhi, and yu, equivalent to 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6 in numbered musical notation or do, re, mi, so, and la in western solfeggio) and the eight sounds made by eight musical instruments...."[3] The "Yellow Emperor" (Huangdi) is said to have ordered the casting of bells in tune with those flutes.

An alternative text, the Lushi Chunqiu (Annals of Master Lu, third century BCE) credits another culture hero, Kui (who is somewhat confused with a one-legged mythical monster bearing the same name, Kui) with the invention of music. In one version of the story, Kui makes a drum by stretching an animal skin over an earthen jar that defeats another monster.[4]

In the computer games Civilization IV and Civilization V, Ling Lun appears as a great artist.


  1. ^ Lihui Yang and Deming An, with Jessica Anderson Turner, Handbook of Chinese Mythology. Santa Barbara, California: ABC CLIO, 2005, p. 73 and pp. 169-170
  2. ^ Baidu Encyclopedia: Ling Lun (in Chinese)
  3. ^ Ibid, p. 73,
  4. ^ Ibid, p. 159. In another version, Huangdi fashions a drum from the skin of a kui monster. For a discussion of the hui/kui confusion, see Richard von Glahn, The Sinister Way: The Divine and the Demonic in Chinese Religious Culture. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004, pp. 90 ff.

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