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Chinese demons and music

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The Chinese / East Asian demon and ghost folklore goes back to quite a deep root, no wonder that this theme is often used in modern art as well (fantasy novels, movies / TV series, donghua / anime, video games, etc). Obviously, raising popularity of the main topic also deepens "the lore", and it's getting harder to distinguish between where subthemes / ideas are originated.

Watching the 魔道祖师 / The Untamed donghua version, I realized that there is a returning trope in many Chinese / Japanese settings, namely that demons / yokais / yaoguais can be controlled, tamed or summoned by music. Without spoiling much, the main character in The Untamed is controlling the zombies using a flute. In NiOh 2, one of the characters controls his yokai self using his flute. If I recall it correctly, there was also a similar hint for it in Inuyasha. The Zhong Kui legend also involves a story of demons stealing Emperor Xuanzong's flute and thus bringing illness on the emperor.

My question would be what is the source of such music / musical instrument - demon interrelated superstition in China and the sino-influenced countries, if there is such a superstition at all? I tried to research a bit in Chinese, but did not really get hits.

  • Good question! 1

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