Sheng wu ai yue lun 聲無哀樂論 "The tones of music do not carry emotions" is an essay on music philosophy and aesthetics written during the Three-Empires period 三國 (220~280 CE) by the poet Ji Kang 嵇康 (223-263). The text is written as a dialogue between Qin Ke 秦客 "The Guest from Qin" and Dongye Zhuren 東野主人 "The Host from the Eastern Plain".
Ji Kang holds that music can only be divided into harmony (he 和) and disharmony (bu he 不和), or "good" (shan 善) and "not good" (bu shan 不善). They are determined by the grade of mastery of the rules of rhythm and harmony (pai he 拍和), and are a natural harmony (xiediao 諧調) that has nothing to do with subjective emotions of sadness or happiness. Since the sound of music does not express emotion, it is "imageless" (wuxiang 無象), and there is no definite emotional content such as sadness in music. The reason why "imageless" sounds cause different emotions in listeners lies in the psychological state at the time of performance (xian gou yu xin 先遘于心). In this way, the same piece of music can be experienced differently by different persons depending on their individual emotions. Music and the heart were two wholly different things (xin zhi yu sheng, ming wei er wu 心之與聲，明為二物).
Ji thus renounces the Confucian proposition that music was an expression of emotion, as expounded, for instance, in the text Yueji 樂記. He likewise rejects the educational function of music in the sense of instigating politically useful moral behaviour in listeners. For Ji, music has a didactic function, but a much more practical one than the state-bearing one in Confucian philosophy.
The aesthetics of music lies in its objective, natural harmony (ziran zhi he 自然之和) and is in Ji Kang's eyes independent from the feelings of the listeners. "Music and the heart go different paths that do not cross" (sheng zhi yu xin, shu tu yi gui, bu xiang jing wei 聲之與心，殊途異軌，不相經緯), he concludes.
The text is included in Ji Kang's collected works, Ji Kang ji 嵇康集 or Ji Shuye ji 嵇叔夜集.
Fu Jingrui 傅景瑞 (1993). "Sheng wu ai yue lun 聲無哀樂論", in Shi Quanchang 石泉長, ed. Zhonghua baike yaolan 中華百科要覽 (Shenyang: Liaoning renmin chubanshe), 746.
Hu Yuqing 胡郁青, Liu Jia 劉嘉 (2000). "Ji Kang Sheng wu ai yue lun ji qi yinyue meixue sixiang tanxi 嵇康《聲無哀樂論》及其音樂美學思想探析", Zhongguo yinyue 中國音樂, 2000 (1): 21-22.
Jiang Xiaoyun 姜曉雲 (1993). "Sheng wu ai yue lun 聲無哀樂論", in Ru Xin 汝信, ed. Shijie baike zhuzuo cidian 世界百科著作辭典 (Beijing: Zhongguo gongren chubanshe), 81.
Jiaoyu da cidian bianzuan weiyuanhui 《教育大辭典》編纂委員會, ed. (1991). Jiaoyu da cidian 教育大辭典, part 8, Zhongguo gudai jiaoyu shi 中國古代教育史 (Shanghai: Shanghai jiaoyu chubanshe), Vol. 1, 280.
Li Binghai 李炳海 (1996). "Sheng wu ai yue lun 聲無哀樂論", in Feng Kezheng 馮克正, Fu Qingsheng 傅慶升, eds. Zhuzi baijia da cidian 諸子百家大辭典 (Shenyang: Liaoning renmin chubanshe), 348.
Lin Fei 林非, ed. (1997). Zhongguo sanwen da cidian 中國散文大辭典 (Zhengzhou: Zhongzhou guji chubanshe), 94.
Ma Yufeng 馬玉峰 (1987). "Sheng wu ai yue lun 聲無哀樂論", in Wang Xiangfeng 王向峰, ed. Wenyi meixue cidian 文藝美學辭典 (Shenyang: Liaoning daxue chubanshe), 626.
Wang Shengping 王生平 (1990). "Sheng wu ai yue lun 聲無哀樂論", in Li Zehou 李澤厚, Ru Xin 汝信, eds. Meixue baike quanshu 美學百科全書 (Beijing: Shenhui kexue wenxian chubanshe), 412.
Xiu Hailin 修海林 (1985). "Lun Ji Kang de yinyue meixue sixiang: Sheng wu ai yue lun yanjiu 論嵇康的音樂美學思想——《聲無哀樂論》研究", Zhongyang Yinyue Xueyuan xuebao 中央音樂學院學報, 1985 (2): 46-54.
Xiu Hailin 修海林 (2006). "Youguan Sheng wu ai yue lun yinyue meixue sixiang pingjia de ruogan wenti 有關《聲無哀樂論》音樂美學思想評價的若干問題", Yinyue yanjiu 音樂研究, 2006 (3): 28-31+84.
Yu Min 于民 (1988). "Sheng wu ai yue lun 聲無哀樂論", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, part Zhexue 哲學 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), Vol. 2, 791.
Zhou Chang 周暢 (1996). "Sheng wu ai yue lun 聲無哀樂論", in Zhou Gucheng 周谷城, ed. Zhonggu xueshu mingzhu tiyao 中國學術名著提要, Vol. Yishu 藝術卷 (Shanghai: Fudan daxue chubanshe), 23.
Zhu Juxian 祝菊賢 (2008). "Yinyue de tizhi yu ziran zhi dao: Ji Kang Sheng wu ai yue lun meixue sixiang yanjiu 音樂的體質與自然之道——嵇康《聲無哀樂論》美學思想研究", Wenyi lilun yanjiu 文藝理論研究, 2008 (4): 133-137.