luàn shì zhī yīn 乱世之音
Music of an Age of Disorder
Confucian scholars believed that music interacts with both society and its political evolution; it also reflects the rise and decline of a state’s political strength and changes of social customs. If a state suffers from political corruption and social turmoil, its music and poetry will be full of resentment and anger. Hearing such music and poetry, the ruler must promptly review his governance and correct abuse of power so as to avoid downfall.
The music of an age of disorder is filled with resentment and anger, reflecting the political chaos of the time. (The Book of Rites)
The music of the states of Zheng and Wei was the music of an age of disorder, bordering on wantonness. The music of Sangjian on the Pushui River was typical of a failing state. The government was dysfunctional, the people were displaced, yet officials cheated on the ruler and pursued selfish gains with no one to stop them. (The Book of Rites)