The theories of Chinese medicine are deeply rooted in the underlying philosophy of ancient Chinese culture. Through the observation of the seasonal changes and the natural environment, the concept of the Five Elements was conceived. These are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. Each relates to a compass direction, a seasonal change and can be applied to many other natural phenomenon, including the human body. The theory of the Five Elements is utilized in Chinese medicine to explain relationships between the internal organs, their healthy physiology and also pathology. The theory also serves as the basis for Chinese music and the use of the pentatonic scale (5 notes). A particular note is ascribed to each of the five elements. Classical Chinese composers would write music that relates to a particular element and it would represent the nature of that element and its associated season.
I came across an interesting article from one the musicians with the Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra who plays a combination of Classical Chinese music and contemporary favourites. In the article, the composer Gao Yuan draws a comparison to the classical Chinese characters for music and medicine. It is amazing that they share the same base character and medicine actually derives from the character for music. He states that music was traditionally used as a healing modality and could heal in ways medicine was not able to.
Music and Medicine
I find it quite curious that the character for music and medicine would be so similar. I feel that it really speaks to the classical understanding of the art required to practice both. In fact, the intricate skill required to palpate the subtleties of the pulse are very similar to that of a Chinese harpist and their ability to find the correct note on a string.
To read the full article:
By: Harris Fisher Dr. TCM