r second…division of Japanese gagaku music consisting mainly of music imported from the court of Tang China. Amidst the center’s ongoing efforts is the repatriation of the Tang dynasty practice of aitake (hezhu 合竹 in Chinese, literally “combining bamboos”), which refers to five- to six-note tone clusters featuring multiple dissonant intervals — most distinctively the major and minor seconds.
I interpret the revivalists’ emphasis on dissonant musical intervals as a self-exoticizing gesture seeking to re-compose a distinct and sophisticated sound of China. The effect of harmony in this case transcends coherence and unity. Foregrounded instead is its inner dialectic between the creation and resolution of tension and, by extension, a similarly nuanced relationship that the cultural revivalists are eager to establish with the world.