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, ahi', and yu) which is equivalent to 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6 in numbered musical notation (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 (English: Annals of Master Lu), from the third century BC credits another culture hero, Kui, (who is often 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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