Saturday, September 6, 2008



Bajiao gu

Bajiao gu




The ''jiegu'' was a drum used in ancient China. It was hourglass-shaped and played with two wooden sticks.

It was adopted from the Central Asian region of Kucha during the Tang Dynasty and became a popular instrument for dancing, particularly among nobles. Emperor Xuanzong of Tang was known as a skilled player of the instrument.

A Korean instrument derived from the ''jiegu'' called ''galgo'' is still occasionally used in Korea. In Japan, the ''kakko'' is also derived from the ''jiegu'', and is still used in ''gagaku'' music.

Tao (drum)

Tao (drum)

Gudi (instrument)

The Jiahu gudi is the oldest known musical instruments from China dating back to around 6000 B.C.E. Gudi literally means bone flute.


In 1986, these bone flutes were excavated from an early neolithic tomb in Jiahu in the Wuyan County, Henan Province in Central China. They are dated to 6000 BC.


The average size of the bone flute is approximately 20 cm long and 1.1 cm in diameter, and the bone flutes are made from the wings of the red-crowned crane. These open-ended bone flutes have a variety of number of holes, ranging from one to seven holes; however there are some with eight holes, seven in front and one in back. The bone whistles are much shorter with lengths from 5.7 cm to 10.5 cm long with only a couple of holes. The number of holes and the spacing of the holes depended on what pitch the flute was supposed to make. Lee and Shen believed that the Chinese understood the "resonance of an air column" and were able to create an instrument that contained their "complete interval preference of Chinese music". Blowing into an end-blown bone flutes produces the same effect as blowing into a glass bottle. It was also believed that the eight open holes flute could play "all harmonic intervals and two registers". These harmonic intervals are said to be a "function of culture" and were of a larger set compared to the West. Bone flutes were also used for sacrificial purposes as well as bird hunting. Gudi are not very common now, but there are still people who continue to use these flutes for their music.

Sample Music


Lillie (disambiguation)

Lillie may refer to:

* ''Lillie'', 1978 British television serial
* ''Lilies '', 2007 British TV series
* '''', 1996 Canadian film
* Lillie, Louisiana
* Lillie Bridge Grounds

Lillie is the surname of:
* Axel Lillie
* Beatrice Lillie
* Frank Rattray Lillie


The ''lusheng'' is the Chinese name for a musical instrument with multiple bamboo pipes, each fitted with a , which are fitted into a long blowing tube made of hardwood. It most often has five or six pipes of different pitches, and is thus a instrument. It comes in sizes ranging from very small to several meters in length.

The ''lusheng'' is used primarily in the rural regions of southwestern China and in nearby countries such as Laos and Vietnam, where it is played by such ethnic groups as the and . Performers often dance or swing the instrument from side to side while playing. Since the late 20th century, a modernized version of the instrument has been used in composed compositions, often as a solo instrument with Chinese traditional instrument orchestra.






''Kouxian'' is the generic term for the Jew's harp, and as such is used to refer to all such instruments originating in China. In the Chinese language, however, the term is used to refer to all Jew's harps, whether from China or elsewhere.

The ''kouxian'', which likely originated in Asia, is used throughout China, and is particularly popular among non-Han living in China's . Each of these ethnic groups has its own name for the instrument in that ethnic group's own language. Such names include ''ho-hos''. ''Kouxian'' may be made from bamboo or metal, and are often used as a courting instrument.

One variety of ''kouxian'' consists of between one and five brass leaves which are plucked in front of the opened mouth, using the mouth as a resonance chamber. Each leaf produces a different pitched sound when plucked, and notes' pitches are further refined by changing the volume and shape of the oral cavity. Leaves may be plucked one at a time or many at once to produce synthesizer-like melody.



Huzuo Dagu

Huzuo Dagu

Huzuo Wujia Gu

Huzuo Wujia Gu

Jian gu

Jian gu






The ''paigu'' is a set of three to seven tuned drums , traditionally made of wood with animal skin heads. It is played by beating the heads with sticks. Most drums are double sided and turnable. Both sides have different tunings. Tuning is done by use of .

Tanggu (drum)

The ''tanggu'' is a traditional Chinese drum. It is medium in size and barrel-shaped, with two heads made of animal skin, and is played with two sticks.

The ''tanggu'' is usually suspended by four rings in a wooden stand.





Dong Son drums

Dong Son drums are bronze drums fabricated by the Dong Son culture, in the Red River Delta of northern Vietnam. The drums were produced from about 600 BC until the third century AD, and are one of the culture's finest examples of metalworking.

The drums, cast in bronze using the lost wax method, are up to a meter in height and weigh up to 100 kg. Dong Son drums were apparently both musical instruments and cult objects. They are decorated with geometric patterns, scenes of daily life and war, animals and birds, and boats. The latter alludes to the importance of trade to the culture in which they were made, and the drums themselves became objects of trade and heirlooms. More than 200 have been found, across an area from eastern Indonesia to Vietnam and Southern China.


In 1902, a collection of 165 large bronze drums was published by F. Heger, who subdivided them into a classification of four types.

The Heger 1 drums of the Dong Son culture were classified and divided into five groups by the Vietnamese scholar Pham Huy Thong in 1990, a division that implied a chronological succession. The earliest, group A, comprisees a set of large and intricated decorated drums. Group B consists of a smaller drums who almost universally have a group of waterbirds in flight as their key motif on the tympanum and the mantle designs. Group C has a central panel on the tympanum made up of a row of plumed warriors placed inside another panel of waterbirds in flight. Toads line the tympanum's edge while the mantle was decorated with either patterns involving boats or geometric patterns.

Hoang Ha

The Hoang Hoa drum is a notable specimen of the Dong Son culture of the Bronze Age that existed in the Red River Delta in approximately the first five centuries BCE.

It was discovered in Ha Son Binh Province in 1937, with an outer panel of crane egrets and an inner panel which shows a procession similar to that described in the Ngoc Lu drum, the most famous of the Dong Son drums.

The drum shows a procession similar to that described in the Ngoc Lu drum, the most famous of the Dong Son drums. This drum varies in that it depicts four sets of men in procession with feathered headgear, rather than two. Also, each set comprises three or four people none of whom appear to be armed. The posture of the men was interpreted as that they were participating in a dance rather than a military ceremony. In this drum, only one pair of people are depicted as threshing rice, and there is no cymbal player. However, the general motifs, such as the boats on the mantle, remain in place.

Large drums found in northern Vietnam were generally in the minority, as most drums have simple decorations with fewer representations of people. The Ban Thom drum has only an inner panel comprising of four houses and plumed humans standing alone or in couples.

Laba (instrument)

Laba (instrument)


The ''xun'' is a Chinese made of clay or ceramic. It is one of the oldest Chinese instruments. The ''xun'' is made in several sizes and is in the shape of an egg. It has a blowing hole on top and generally eight smaller finger holes .

The Korean equivalent is the ''hun'' . In Japan, the same type of instrument is called ''tsuchibue'' .


* from The Musical Instruments E-book


The ''fou'' is an percussion instrument consisting of a pottery or bronzeware crock, jar, pot, or similar vessel, which was struck with a stick. Its origin dates back to the or dynasties, where it was used in ritual music. It later became a standard instrument in ritual ensembles.

The ''fou'' as an instrument was not confirmed until a discovery of nearly 500 musical instruments in the Tombs for Nobles of the State, Wuxi City, Jiangsu Province. Also found there were nine other varieties of instruments, including the ''yongzhong'' and ''qing'' from the , ''chunyu'' , ''dingning'' , ''duo'' and ''ling'' .

It made its modern appearance during the 2008 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony in Beijing. Towards the beginning of the ceremony, 2,008 dancer/percussionists staged a synchronized presentation, striking large square ''fou'' with glowing red sticks. Those instruments had a white square surrounding each drum, allowing them all to produce both music and a dazzling display, which included Chinese characters and shapes created in tandem.

The Chinese character ''fou'' is used to refer to containers. The character has fallen into disuse in Chinese; however, it still used to referred . Since the and dynasties, some types of those containers were used as musical instruments known as "percussion fou" . Since its publicity, there has been some scholarly disputes on whether the ''fou'' used during the Olympics were actually musical instruments, as they could simply have been containers.

In the Confucian ritual music of Korea, a musical instrument made from a clay pot, called the ''bu'' , which is derived from the ''fou'', is used.

Sheng (instrument)

The sheng is a mouth-blown free reed instrument consisting essentially of vertical pipes, in the .

It is thought that Johann Wilde and traveled to China and brought the first shengs back to Europe in 1740 and 1777 respectively, although some believe shengs were known in Europe centuries earlier. However, it was only in the early 1800s that Amiot's sheng inspired the invention of the harmonica, accordion, and reed organ.

Traditionally, the ''sheng'' has been used as an accompaniment instrument for solo ''suona'' or ''dizi'' performances, in ''kunqu'' and some other forms of Chinese opera, and in small ensembles. In the modern symphonic Chinese orchestra, it is used for both melody and accompaniment. Its warm mellow sound expresses lyrical melodies well, while its ability to play chords makes it a highly prized accompaniment instrument.

The sheng has been used in the works of a few non-Chinese composers, including Lou Harrison, Tim Risher, Brad Catler, and Christopher Adler.


Shengs are broadly classified into two categories: traditional ''sheng'' and keyed ''sheng'' . Keyed shengs have only been developed in modern times, c. 1950 onwards.

Traditional sheng

Traditional sheng

The traditional sheng is the original type of sheng, which has seventeen, twenty-one, twenty-four or thirty pipes . Uses treble clef when in western notation, but more often uses jianpu, Chinese numerical notation.

The difference between a traditional and keyed sheng lies in its mechanism. On a traditional sheng, the holes on the pipes are pressed directly by the player's fingers. On a keyed sheng, the holes are opened and closed by means of keys or levers. Without keys, the great number of pipes and the size of the alto to bass instruments makes it impractical for operation by hand.

Covering a hole causes the entire length of the pipe to resonate with the reeds' frequency. If the hole is open, the resonance frequency would not match, and hence no sound is produced.

Keyed sheng

Currently, there are four main ranges of keyed sheng, forming a family of soprano, alto, tenor and bass. All of them are chromatic throughout their range, and tuned to the equal temperament scale.
* Gaoyin sheng
36-pipe sheng with a soprano range of G3 to F#6 . Uses treble clef
* Zhongyin sheng
36-pipe sheng with an alto range of C3 to B5. Perfect 5th lower than Gaoyin sheng. It has an additional row of 12 keys coloured in black, which when depressed plays all 3 pipes corresponding to the same note in different octaves. E.g., pressing the black "C" causes the notes C3, C4 and C5 to be sounded simultaneously. Uses treble and alto clefs.
* Cizhongyin sheng
36-pipe sheng with a tenor range of G2 to F#5. One octave lower than soprano sheng. Uses alto clef, or treble clef transposed down an octave.
* Diyin sheng
32-pipe sheng with a bass range of C2 to G4. Uses bass clef.

Notable sheng players

*Feng Haiyun .
*Hu Tianquan - introduced several technical improvements on the construction of the instrument
*Guo Wanpeng
*Guo Yi
*Keliang Li
*François Picard
*Rodrigo Rodriguez
*Wang Hong
*Wang Zhengting
*Weng Zhenfa
*Wu Tong
*Wu Wei
*Xu Chaoming

Yu (wind instrument)

The ''yu'' was a free reed wind instrument used in ancient China. It was similar to the , with multiple bamboo pipes fixed in a wind chest which may have been made of bamboo, wood, or gourd. Each pipe contained a free reed, which was also made of bamboo. Whereas the sheng was used to provide harmony , the ''yu'' was played melodically. The instrument was used, often in large numbers, in the court orchestras of ancient China but is no longer used.

A third-century BC line drawing featuring a ''yu'' player may be seen .

Although the ''yu'' is now obsolete, it is known to most Chinese speakers through the saying "Làn yú chōng shù" , meaning "to fill a position without having the necessary qualifications." The saying is derived from the story of Nanguo, a man from southern China who joined the royal court orchestra of King Xuan , the ruler of the as a ''yu'' player. Although the man did not actually know how to play this instrument, he knew that the orchestra had no fewer than 300 ''yu'' players, so he felt secure that he could simply pretend to play, and thus collect a musician's salary. Upon the king's death, Nanguo was eventually found out as an imposter when the king's son Min , who had succeeded his father as king, asked the musicians to play individually rather than as a group. On the night before he was to play, Nanguo fled the palace, never to return.

The ''yu'' is similar to the ''lusheng'', a free reed mouth organ used by various ethnic groups in several provinces of southern China.

He (wind instrument)

He (wind instrument)


The ''hulusi'' is a wind instrument from China. It is held vertically and has three bamboo pipes which pass through a gourd wind chest; one pipe has finger holes and the other two are pipes.

The ''hulusi'' was originally used primarily in the Yunnan province by the and other non-Han ethnic groups but is now played throughout China, and ''hulusi'' are manufactured in such northern cities as Tianjin. Like the related free reed pipe called bawu, the ''hulusi'' has a very pure, clarinet-like sound.

Although the ''hulusi'' is still predominantly performed in China, it has in recent years been adopted by European composers and performers. Rohan Leach from England; Rapheal De Cock from Belgium and Herman Witkam from the Netherlands have all taken the instrument in new directions.

A similar instrument called ''hulusheng'' is a mouth organ with a gourd wind chest.


The instrument's name comes from the Chinese words ''hulu'', meaning "gourd," and ''si'', meaning "silk" . The instrument is called ''bilangdao'' in the Dai language.


* from The Musical Instruments E-book
* performed by the ''hulusi''



Gourd mouth organ

A gourd mouth organ is a traditional wind instrument found in many nations of and Asia. It is a free reed mouth organ similar to the Chinese '''' but with a windchest made from a dried bottle gourd rather than metal or wood. Its pipes are made of bamboo and it has free reeds that may be made of bamboo or metal.

In China, gourd mouth organs are referred to by the generic name ''hulusheng'' . They are used as folk instruments by such as the Lahu, Lisu, Akha, and , who have their own names for the instrument in their own languages; the instrument varies in construction and playing technique from ethnic group to ethnic group. It is found most frequently in China's province of Yunnan as well as in several other provinces of southern China.

Similar instruments are found in Thailand , Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Vietnam , and Borneo.

Open holes on the bottom of the pipes in some gourd mouth organs allow for the .

The ''lusheng'' of the , , and people has a similar name but its windchest is made from an elongated tube of wood rather than gourd.




Bianzhong is an ancient Chinese musical instrument consisting of a set of bronze bells, played melodically. The bells were hung in a wooden frame and struck with a mallet. Along with the stone chimes called ''bianqing'', they were an important instrument in China's ritual and court music going back to ancient times.

Several sets of ''bianzhong'' were imported to the Korean court during the Song Dynasty. Known in Korea as ''pyeonjong'', the instrument is still used in Korean court music. A similar instrument in Japan is called the ''hensho''.

Further reading

*Lee, Yuan-Yuan and Shen, Sinyan. . ''Chinese Musical Instruments ''. Chinese Music Society of North America Press. ISBN 1-880464039
*Shen, Sinyan , Acoustics of Ancient Chinese Bells, ''Scientific American'', 256, 94.


The ''fangxiang'' is an ancient metallophone. The instrument consists of 16 tuned rectangular iron slabs laid in a frame in two rows. The slabs are struck with a hammer and played melodically. Each of the slabs is of the same length and width but they are of graduated thickness, with the thinner slabs producing lower tones and the thicker slabs producing higher tones.

In ancient times, the ''fangxiang'' was a popular instrument in Chinese court music. It was introduced to Korea, where it is called ''banghyang'' and is still used in the . A similar instrument used in Japan is called the ''hōkyō'' .

The ''fangxiang'' was used by the composer Lou Harrison in his '''' . Harrison had taken research trips to Japan and South Korea and Taiwan .


NAO can refer to:
* National Applications Office, an agent of the United States Department of Homeland Security
* National Audit Office in several nations
* Nautical Almanac Office in several nations
* New Age Outlaws, now known as ''Voodoo Kin Mafia'' in
* North Atlantic oscillation, a climatic phenomenon
* National Academy Orchestra of Canada, a Canadian orchestral training program located in Hamilton, Ontario
*, a server for the roguelike game ''NetHack''

Nao can refer to:
* Nao drummer from Visual Kei band Alice Nine
* A Carrack in Spanish
* Nao Toyama, a Japanese pop solo artist and former leader of Buzy
* ''Nao'', the hero of the ''Aquablue'' comic
* Nao Yuuki, a supporting character in the anime series My-HiME
* Nao Makinoha, a character from Midori No Hibi
* Nao Morisaki, a character from Soul Link
* Nao, the mascot of the network game.
* Nao Kanzaki, main protagonist in the manga and live actions series, Liar Game
* Nao , a robot devised by the French company Aldebaran Robotics



Bo (instrument)

Bo (instrument)

Luo (instrument)

Luo (instrument)


Yunluo is a .

The ''yunluo'' is a set of usually ten small tuned gongs mounted in a wooden frame, with each gong being about 9-12 cm in diameter, and the height of the frame being about 52 cm. The ''yunluo'''s gongs are generally of equal diameter but different thicknesses; the thicker gongs produce a higher pitch. It is often used in wind and percussion ensembles in . Old drawings also depict a smaller ''yunluo'' with just five gongs, which was held by a handle by one hand and played with the other.

A modernised ''yunluo'' has been developed from the traditional ''yunluo'' for use in the large modern Chinese orchestra. It is much larger with 29 or more gongs of different diameters. Its height is about 2m including its two legs on which it stands on the floor ; its width is about 1.4 m.

The traditional ''yunluo'' is sometimes called the ''shimianluo'' to distinguish it from the modern redesigned ''yunluo''.

The ''nh&'' music of Vietnam uses a similar instrument with three gongs, called the ''tam &'' .


*, from The Musical Instruments E-book



Chun (musical instrument)

Chun (musical instrument)




The ''bawu'' is a Chinese wind instrument. Although shaped like a flute, it is actually a instrument, with a single metal reed. It is played in a transverse manner. It has a pure, clarinet-like timbre and its playing technique incorporates the use of much ornamentation, particularly bending tones.

Although the ''bawu'' likely originated in the Yunnan province of southwest China, it has become a standard instrument throughout China, used in modern Chinese compositions for traditional instrument ensembles. It is typically used as a solo instrument, and is often featured in film scores; it is sometimes also heard in popular music recordings.

Although the ''bawu'' is still predominantly performed in China, it has in recent years been adopted by European composers and performers. Rohan Leach from England; Rapheal De Cock from Belgium and Herman Witkam from the Netherlands have all taken the instrument in new directions.

Guo Yue, who now resides in England, has long advocated the instrument performing it on all of his recordings.




The ''mangtong'' is a end-blown . It is used primarily by the and ethnic groups of the southern Chinese provinces of Guizhou and Guangxi, although it is sometimes used in contemporary Chinese compositions for traditional instrument orchestra.

The instrument consists of a bamboo free reed pipe without finger holes, which is fitted with a metal free reed; the instrument's playing pipe is placed inside a bamboo resonator of larger diameter. The ''mangtong'' is made in several different sizes, with the largest up to two meters in length. As the ''mangtong'' produces only a single pitch, several ''mangtong'' are normally played together in hocket. ''Mangtong'' are often played together with an ensemble of free reed mouth organs called ''lusheng'', serving as the instruments of that ensemble.

A modernized version of the ''mangtong'', called ''gǎigé mángtǒng'' , was developed in the 20th century.

Nazi (instrument)

Nazi (instrument)

Zhu (percussion instrument)

The ''zhu'' was a percussion instrument used in the court ritual music of ancient China. It consisted of a wooden box that tapered from the top to the bottom, and was played by grasping a vertical wooden stick and striking it on the bottom face. The instrument was used to mark the beginning of music in the ancient ritual music of China, called ''yayue''. The instrument is rarely used today, with specimens appearing mainly in Chinese museums, although in Taiwan it is still used in Confucian ritual music by the Taiwan Confucian Temple.

The ''zhu'' is mentioned, along with another percussion instrument called ''yu'' , in pre-Qin Dynasty annals, and appears in the ''Classic of History''.

The Korean '''' , a musical instrument that is essentially identical to the ''zhu'', from which it was derived, continues to be used in Korean Confucian court ritual music.

Yu (percussion instrument)

The ''yu'' was a wooden percussion instrument carved in the shape of a tiger with a serrated back comprising 27 "teeth," used since ancient times in China for court ritual music. It was played by striking its head three times with a bamboo whisk made from approximately 15 stalks of bamboo, and then scraping it across the serrated back once to mark the end of a piece of music.

The ''yu'' is mentioned, along with another percussion instrument called '''' , in pre-Qin Dynasty annals, and appears in the ''Classic of History''.

The ''yu'' was adopted by the Korean court in ancient times, where it was known as ''eo'' , and is still used in Confucian ritual music.

Wooden fish

A wooden fish , , , sometimes known as a Chinese block, is a wooden percussion instrument similar to the Western wood block. The wooden fish is used by monks and laity in the Mahayana Buddhist tradition. It is often used during rituals usually involving the recitation of sutras, mantras, or other Buddhist texts. The wooden fish is mainly used by Buddhist disciples in China, Japan, Korea, and other East Asian countries where the practice of Mahayana, such as the ceremonious reciting of sutras, is prevalent. In some Zen/Ch'an Buddhist traditions, the wooden fish serves as a signal to start and end a meditation session, and in Pure Land Buddhism, it is used to chant the name of Amitabha.

The Taoist clergy has also adapted the wooden fish into their rituals.

Types of wooden fish

There are two kinds of wooden fish. One is the well known wooden fish that is round in shape with scales carved on its top. In Buddhism the fish, which never sleeps, symbolizes wakefulness. Therefore, it is to remind the chanting monks to be concentrate on their sutra. The round wooden fish comes in many sizes, ranging from to .

The other is literally in the shape of a fish. It is found suspended in front of the dining hall of a Buddhist monastery. When having breakfast and lunch, the monks beat it to call all monastics and laity to eat.


Many legends describe the origin of the wooden fish - most take place in China. One says that a Chinese Buddhist monk went to India to acquire sutras. On his way to India, he found the way blocked by a wide, flooding river. There appeared neither bridge nor boat.

Suddenly, a big fish swam up. It offered to carry the monk across the river. The fish told the monk that it wanted to atone for a crime committed when it was a human. The fish made a simple request, that on the monk's way to obtain sutras, to ask the to guide the fish on a method to attain Bodhisattvahood.

The monk agreed to the fish's request and continued his quest for seventeen years. After getting the scriptures, he returned to China via the river, which was flooding again. As the monk worried about how to cross, the fish came back to help. It asked if the monk had made the request to the Buddha. To the monk's dismay, he had forgotten. The fish became furious and splashed the monk, washing him into the river. A passing fisherman saved him from drowning, but unfortunately the sutras had been ruined by the water.

The monk went home, full of anger. Seventeen years of effort wasted! Filled with anger at the fish, he made a wooden effigy of a fish head. When he recalled his adversity, he beat the fish head with a wooden hammer. To his surprise, each time he beat the wooden fish, the fish opened its mouth and vomited a . He became so happy that, when he had time, he always beat the fish. A few years later, he had got back from the wooden fish's mouth what he had lost to the flood.

HI is htis rlkasj;dgkljaklsdg

Use in the Chinese Orchestra

When used in the Chinese Orchestra, the wooden fish is often in sets of 5. It is commonly used to convey a solemn and religious feel to a piece. However, it has also been used in fast and lively pieces. An indefinite number of instruments may be used in a piece.

Guban (instrument)

The ''guban'' is a clapper used in traditional Chinese music. It consists of two flat pieces of hardwood or bamboo that are tied loosely together on one end. The instrument is held vertically by one hand and clapped together, producing a sharp clacking sound.

The ''guban'' is an important accompanying instrument in some genres of ''shuochang'' , as well as in Beijing opera and other forms of Chinese opera.




The ''bianqing'' is an ancient Chinese musical instrument consisting of a set of L-shaped flat stone chimes, played melodically. The chimes were hung in a wooden frame and struck with a mallet. Along with the bronze bells called ''bianzhong'', they were an important instrument in China's ritual and court music going back to ancient times.

A similar instrument was imported to Korea, where it is called ''pyeongyeong'' and still used in Korean court and ritual music.


* from The Musical Instruments E-book-->



Xiao (flute)

The ''xiao'' is a Chinese vertical end-blown flute. It is generally made of dark brown bamboo . It is also sometimes called ''dòngxiāo'' , ''dòng'' meaning "hole." An ancient name for the xiāo is ''shùdí'' but the name ''xiāo'' in ancient times also included the side-blown bamboo flute, ''dizi''.

The ''xiāo'' is a very ancient Chinese instrument usually thought to have developed from a simple end-blown flute used by the Qiang people of Southwest China. The modern six-hole form of the instrument goes back to the Ming dynasty.


''Xiao'' are today most often pitched in the key of G , although ''xiao'' in other less common keys are also available, most commonly in the key of F. More traditional ''xiao'' have six finger holes, while most modern ones have eight; the additional holes do not extend the instrument's range but instead make it easier to play notes such as F natural. There are a further four sound holes situated at the bottom third of the length of the ''xiao''. The blowing hole is at the top end, usually cut into a 'U' shape. Some ''xiao'' have the blowing end entirely cut off, so the player must use the space between their chin and lips to cover the hole fully. There may be a metal joint between the blow hole and the top finger hole for tuning purposes and sometimes also between the last finger hole and the end. The length of the xiao ranges from around 45 cm to over 1.25 m but is usually around 75-85 cm. Usually, shorter xiaos are more difficult to play because of the need to control one's breath more accurately. The angle to play the ''xiao'' is around 45 degrees from the body.

Varieties of xiao

The ''qinxiao'' is a version of the ''xiao'', which is narrower and generally in the key of F with eight finger holes, used to accompany the ''guqin''. The narrowness of the ''qin xiao'' makes the tone softer, making it more suitable to play with the ''qin'' . It is also the longest of all ''xiao'' types, up to 1.25m.

The ''nanxiao'' , sometimes called ''chiba'' is a short ''xiao'' with open blowing end used in the Nanyin, the local Fujianese opera from Quanzhou.

Related instruments

A separate instrument, the ''paixiao'' is a which was used in ancient China and which, although it remains unusual, has recently had something of a come-back.

The Japanese shakuhachi and ''hocchiku'', and the Korean ''tungso'' and ''danso'' , are descended from earlier forms of the Chinese ''xiao''.




The ''paixiao'' is an ancient wind instrument, a form of pan pipes. It is no longer used, having died out in ancient times, although in the 20th century it was reconstructed.

In Korea, an instrument called the ''so'' was derived from the ''paixiao'' and used in ritual music.

A musician named Gao Ming plays a modernized version of the ''paixiao'' in the Tang Dynasty Music and Dance Show at the Shaanxi Grand Opera House in Xi'an; he has been a member of this ensemble since 1982. While his instrument superficially resembles the instrument used during the Tang Dynasty, its pipes have rather than being end-blown, it is played with the pipes held horizontally rather than vertically, and it is set up to play in parallel thirds.

Chi (instrument)

Chi (instrument)

Yue (instrument)

Yue (instrument)

Xindi (Chinese instrument)

The ''xindi'' is a musical instrument. A 20th-century derivative of the ancient ''dizi'' , the ''xindi'' is fully , and usually lacks the dizi's distinctive ''dimo'', or buzzing membrane.




The ''koudi'' is a very small Chinese flute made from bamboo. It was invented in 1971 by the late ''dizi'' master Yu Xunfa .

One of the most famous compositions for ''koudi'' is ''YunQue'' . The instrument is also used in Chinese orchestral pieces like ''Fei Tian''.






* (click headphones to listen to individual tracks]

Guan (instrument)

The ''guan'' where northern China version is called ''guanzi'' or ''bili'' and the Cantonese version is called ''houguan'' . It is classified as a bamboo instrument in the Ba Yin system. The ''guan'' is a Chinese double reed wind instrument. Unlike instruments in the shawm family, such as the Western oboe or Chinese ''suona'', the ''guan'' has a cylindrical , giving it a clarinet-like tone.


The earliest use of the word ''guan'' can be trace back to Zhou Dynasty records, where it refers to end-blown bamboo flutes such as the ''xiao'' or ''paixiao''. The earliest double-reed instrument appears in the late Zhou dynasty and is referred as ''hujia'' because it had been introduced from the of China. During that time, the ''hujia'' was used as the primarily military instrument for signaling, and is depicted in early Chinese poetry as raucous and barbaric.

The ''guan'' was developed after the ''hujia'' in the Tang Dynasty due to the flourishing music and art culture that were influenced by the silk road trade. Like the ''hujia'', it was probably adopted from Central Asian nomads, and became an important leading instrument in the court and ritual music. At the height of the Tang Dynasty, the ''guan'', alongside many other instruments was introduced to neighboring countries, where the ''guan'''s descendants are still used today.

However, in subsequent dynasties, the ''guan'' fell out of use in court music but became very popular in folk ensembles. It plays an important part in the wind-and-percussion ensembles that play on traditional festivals and celebratory occasions and is still popular in the wind band music of northern China, as well as in some other Chinese regions. In the Beijing opera orchestra, the ''guan'' is used to depict military scenes along with the ''suona'' and other percussion instruments.


The ''guan'' consist of a short cylindrical tube made of hardwood in northern China, where the instrument is called ''bili''. In the Guangdong region of southern China, it is made from bamboo and is called ''houguan'' . Traditionally the instrument has seven finger holes on the top and one thumb hole on the back. The length of the guan varies from 7 inches to 13 inches .

The northern ''guanzi'' comes in various keys and the ''houguan'' is available in three sizes.

In the 20th century, modern versions of the ''guan'' were developed in China. These modernized ''guan'' have extra holes and are fitted with metal keys to provide a wider and fully chromatic range. Such instruments are used primarily in large traditional orchestras.

All ''guan'' have a large, wide double reed made from ''Arundo'' cane, which is inserted into the top end of the tube.


The instrument's range is about two and one-half octaves. It has been used in a variety of musical contexts over the centuries, often as a solo instrument used to evoke a mood of sadness.
''Guan'' is capable of doing vibrato and wide pitch bends.

The ''guan'' is quite difficult to play, largely due to the difficulty of controlling the embouchure; a Chinese saying states that "the '''' takes 100 days to learn, but the ''guan'' takes 1,000 days to learn."


* from The Musical Instruments E-book



Audio Sample


The ''suona'' ; also called ''laba'' or ''haidi'' is a Han Chinese shawm . It has a distinctively loud and high-pitched sound, and is used frequently in Chinese traditional music ensembles, particularly those that perform outdoors. It is an important instrument in the folk music of northern China, particularly the provinces of Shandong and Henan, where it has long been used for festival and military purposes. It is still used, in combination with mouth organs, gongs, drums, and sometimes other instruments, in wedding and funeral processions. Such wind and percussion ensembles are called ''chuida'' or ''guchui''.


The ''suona'' has a conical wooden body, similar to that of the European oboe, but uses a tubular brass or copper bocal to which a small double reed is affixed, and possesses a detachable metal bell at its end.

The instrument is made in several sizes. Since the mid-20th century, "modernized" versions of the suona have been developed in China; such instruments have keys similar to those of the European oboe, to allow for the playing of chromatic notes and equal tempered tuning . There is now a family of such instruments, including the ''zhongyin suona'', ''cizhongyin suona'', and ''diyin suona''. These instruments are used in the woodwind sections of modern large in China, Taiwan, and Singapore, though most folk ensembles prefer to use the traditional version of the instrument. Chinese rock musician Cui Jian featured a modernized suona in his song ''Nothing to My Name'' .

The ''nazi'' , a related instrument that is most commonly used in northern China, consists of a ''suona'' reed that is played melodically, the pitches changed by the mouth and hands. Sometimes the ''nazi'' is played into a large metal horn for additional volume.


The ''suona'' is believed to have been developed from instruments such as the ''sorna'', ''surnay'', or ''zurna'', from which its Chinese name probably derives. It was originally introduced into China from central or western Asia. A musician playing an instrument very similar to a ''suona'' is shown on a drawing on a Silk Road religious monument in western Xinjiang province dated to the 3rd to 5th centuries, and depictions dating to this period found in Shandong and other regions of northern China depict it being played in military processions, sometimes on horseback. It was not mentioned in Chinese literature until the Ming Dynasty , but by this time the ''suona'' was already established in northern China.

Use outside China

In Korea, a similar instrument is called '''', and in Vietnam similar oboes are called ''kèn''.

In Japan, a similar instrument is called ''charumera''. This instrument's name is derived from ''charamela'', the Portuguese word for shawm. Its sound is well known throughout Japan, as it is often used by street vendors selling ramen.

The ''suona'' is also used as a traditional instrument in Cuba, having been introduced by Chinese immigrants during the colonial era. It is known there as ''trompeta china'' and is used in some forms of ''son'' and carnival music.

The American jazz saxophonist Dewey Redman often played the ''suona'' in his performances, calling it a "musette."

Notable performers

*Liu Qi-Chao
*Liu Yuan , saxophonist with Cui Jian's band, who trained on the ''suona'' at the Beijing Art School, and who used the instrument on Cui's 1994 album ''Balls Under the Red Flag''
*Song Baocai


* Click the image of the headphones to play a track.



Morin khuur

The ''morin khuur'' or ''matouqin'' is a chordophone of Mongolian origin whose name roughly translates as "horse-head fiddle" in . It is played with a and produces a sound which is poetically described as expansive and unrestrained, like a wild neighing, or like a breeze in the grasslands. It is the most important musical instrument of the , and is considered a symbol of the Mongolian nation.

The instrument consists of a wooden-framed sound box to which two strings are attached. It is held nearly upright with the sound box in the musician's lap or between the musician's legs. The strings are made from hairs from horses' tails, strung parallel, and run over a wooden bridge on the body up a long neck to the two tuning pegs in the scroll, which is always carved into the form of a horse's head.

The bow is loosely strung with horse hair coated with larch or cedarwood resin, and is held from underneath with the right hand. The underhand grip enables the hand to tighten the loose hair of the bow, allowing very fine control of the instrument's timbre.

The larger of the two strings has 130 hairs from a 's tail, while the "female" string has 105 hairs from a 's tail. Traditionally, the strings were tuned a apart, though in modern music they are more often tuned a apart. The strings are stopped either by pinching them in the joints of the index and middle fingers, or by pinching them between the nail of the little finger and the pad of the ring finger.

Traditionally, the frame would have been covered with camel, goat, or sheep skin, in which case a small opening would be left in back, but in modern times, an all-wood is more common, in a style similar to European stringed instruments, including the carved f-holes.

Morin khuur vary in form depending on region. The Instruments from central Mongolia tend to have larger bodies and thus possess more volume than the smaller-bodied instruments of Inner Mongolia. Morin khuurs built deeper in China also tend to be of poorer quality construction than their northern cousins. In Tuva the morin khuur is sometimes used in place of the igil.

The morin khuur is one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity identified by .

Among the Chinese, the matouqin is one of several instruments in the huqin family which also includes the erhu.


One legend about the origin of the morin khuur is that a shepherd named Kuku Namjil received the gift of a magical winged horse; he would mount it at night and fly to meet his beloved. A jealous woman had the horse’s wings cut off, so that the horse fell from the air and died. The grieving shepherd made a horsehead fiddle from the now-wingless horse's bones, and used it to play poignant songs about his horse.

Another legend credits the invention of the morin khuur to a boy named Sükhe . After a wicked lord slew the boy's prized white horse, the horse's spirit came to Sükhe in a dream and instructed him to make an instrument from the horse's body, so the two could still be together and neither would be lonely. So the first morin khuur was assembled, with horse bones as its neck, horsehair strings, horse skin covering its wooden soundbox, and its scroll carved into the shape of a horse head.

Chinese history credits the evolution of the matouqin from the xiqin , a family of instruments found around the Xilamulun River valley in northeast China. It was originally associated with the people. In 1105 , it was described as a foreign, two-stringed lute in an encyclopedic work on music called ''Yue Shu'' by Chen Yang. Though it should be explained that the morin khuur is a instrument and not Chinese. Most ethnomusicologists now agree that any Chinese theories on the origin of the morin khuur are not based in historical fact.

The fact that most of the Turkic neighbors of the Mongols possess similar horse hair instruments points to a possible origin amongst the Mongolian peoples that once inhabited the Mongolian Steppe and migrated to the Turkic regions of Tuva, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. This is considered a far more reasonable theory than any Chinese claim of origin for the morin khuur.


The ''xiqin'' was a bowed string instrument adopted by the from the Xi, a Central Asian people, in ancient times. It is perhaps the original member of the ''huqin'' family of Chinese bowed string instruments; thus, the ''erhu'' and all similar Chinese instruments may be said to be derived from the ''xiqin''. The ''xiqin'' had two silk strings and was held vertically.

Origin and development

The ''xiqin'' is believed to have been developed by the , a - or -related ethnic group living in the Xilamulun River valley in northeast China.

The ''xiqin'' first appeared in China during the Tang Dynasty, during which time it was used in the palace orchestra and bowed with a bamboo stick. It was further developed in the Song Dynasty, when it began to be bowed with a horsehair bow.

In 1105, during the , the instrument was described as a foreign, two-stringed lute in an encyclopedic work on music called ''Yuè Shū'' by the .

Similar instruments

The ''erxian'' used in ''nanguan'' music is similar in construction to the ''xiqin''. The Korean ''haegeum'' is also very similar in shape to the ''xiqin'' from which it is derived; in fact, its name is simply the Korean pronunciation of the same Chinese characters.


The yazheng is a Chinese string instrument. It is a long zither similar to the guzheng but by scraping with a sorghum stem dusted with resin, a bamboo stick, or a piece of forsythia wood. The instrument was popular in the Tang Dynasty, but is today little used except in the folk music of some parts of northern China, where it is called ''yaqin'' .

The Korean ''ajaeng'' is derived from the ''yazheng''.

In 2002, the People's Republic of China released a postage stamp featuring the instrument.

The ''zhengni'' is a similar instrument used by the Zhuang people of the southern Chinese province of Guangxi.








The trapezoidal yangqin is a hammered dulcimer originally from the Middle East . It used to be written with the characters , but over time the first character changed to , which means "acclaimed". It is also spelled yang quin or yang ch'in. Hammered dulcimers of various types are now very popular not only in China, but also Eastern Europe, the Middle East, India and Pakistan. The instruments are also sometimes known by the names "santur" and "cymbalom".

The ''yangqin'' was traditionally fitted with bronze strings, which gave the instrument a soft timbre. This form of instrument is still occasionally heard today in the ''hudie qin'' played in the traditional silk and bamboo genre from the Shanghai region known as ''Jiangnan sizhu'' , as well as in some Cantonese music groups. The Thai and Cambodian ''khim'' are nearly identical in their construction, having been introduced to those nations by southern Chinese musicians. Since the 1950s, however, steel alloy strings have been used, in order to give the instrument a brighter, and louder tone. The modern ''yangqin'' can have as many as five courses of bridges and may be arranged chromatically. Traditional instruments, with three or more courses of bridges, are also still widely in use. The instrument's strings are struck with two lightweight bamboo beaters with rubber tips. A professional musician often carries several sets of beaters, each of which draws a slightly different tone from the instrument, much like the drum sticks of Western percussionists.

The ''yangqin'' is used both as a solo instrument and in ensembles. Composer/vocalist Lisa Gerrard has used this instrument in the 8 albums recorded by the band Dead Can Dance and also in some of her performances solo since the break up of Dead Can Dance.


Historians offer several theories to explain how the instrument was introduced to China: 1) that the instrument may have been introduced by land, through the Silk Road; 2) that it was introduced by sea, through the port of Guangzhou ; or 3) that it was invented without foreign influence by the Chinese themselves.

The word "yangqin" has historically been written in two different ways, using different Chinese characters for "yang". The "yang" in the earlier version was written with the character , meaning "foreign." It was later changed, in 1910, to the character "yang" , meaning "acclaimed" and is also the first character of the name of Yangzhou which some Chinese linguistic scholars have stated was done because the latter term was more politically correct during a period when China was resisting foreign cultural influences.

Theory of introduction by land

Another theory of how the yangqin came into contact with the Chinese is through the Silk Road. At a glance, the Silk Route stretches almost 5,000 miles reaching from China to the Middle East, including Iran . The Iranian santur, a dulcimer, has existed since ancient times. If any dulcimer was to influence China by land, it is likely to be this instrument.

The santur seems to be a likely predecessor of the yangqin. The instrument is somewhat smaller in size, is same in shape and is also played using two wooden mallets.

The technical structure of the santur is different in the way the tuning pegs are place, the bridges and the mallets. The yangqin's tuning pins are set in parallel instead of a 90-degree angle down at the side. The mallets of the santur also differ from those of the yangqin - they are made of wood with finger grip, designed to let the players perform by gripping the two mallets between their fore and middle fingers. Both modern and earlier yangqin mallets did not include finger grips.

The bridge of the yangqin consist of long, single pieces of wood with many protruding "stubs" supporting the strings unlike the santur, which uses a number of small, individual chesspiece-like bridges.

Theory of introduction by sea

The port at Canton/Guangzhou attracts traders from all over Asia: from Japan, India, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. The ships from this region bought back precious stones, slaves, exotic wares, fruits, spices, etc. Along with trade, businesses, ideas, philosophies and scientific knowledge were exchanged, including religion .

During the 16th century, the Age of Exploration in Europe reached it climax and soon trade was established between China and Europe. Historians state that Portuguese, and later, English and Dutch ships, had brisk trade with China. Portuguese trading in Chinese waters began in the 1500s according to historians. Music historians report that the salterio, a hammered dulcimer, was played in Portugal, Spain, and Italy during this period. Historians say it is possible that the yangqin originated when the Portuguese, the English or the Dutch brought a dulcimer player to China who performed for locals.

Possible relationship to clavichord

Some historians have stated that the European clavichord is another possible precursor to the Yangqin. These historians state that an Italian missionary, Matteo Ricci, had brought a clavichord from Europe to China, and that the Chinese court had many clavichords and harpsichords in the palace, given as gifts by various European nations. However, as the locals could not duplicate the striking mechanism, they reverted to using hammers to hit the strings instead, resulting in the Yangqin.

Theory of invention within China

Some music scholars support the theory that the Chinese dulcimer, ''yangqin'' was developed within China itself, devoid of all foreign influence. These historians state two possible explanations for the instruments native origins, which are: the ''yangqin'' is a development from an ancient string instrument called ''zhu'' (筑). Or that the ''yangqin'' originated from Yangzhou (扬州 or 揚州), China itself.

Relationship to the ''zhu''

Some music scholars state that the yangqin developed from the ancient musical instrument '''' . The zhu is shaped like the guqin - rectangular, with one side wider than the other. It had 12 to 13 strings , assumed to have been made of silk or gut, with resemblance to the ''guqin''. It was performed using techniques quite similar to the ''guqin'' - one hand pressing the strings while the other plucked. However, in the case of the ''zhu'', instead of plucking the strings, the strings were struck using a slender bamboo hammer.

The Yangzhou theory

Another theory supported by some music scholars is that the yangqin was developed in Yangzhou, a city in Jiangsu Province. According to one thesis written by Mr Chew in 1921, "Yangqin was named Yangqin because it was invented in Yangzhou. Different variants came about after it was introduced into Guangzhou."


As the ''yangqin'' is a type of hammered dulcimer, it shares many elements of construction with other instruments in the hammered dulcimer family:


Modern ''yangqin'' usually have 144 strings in total, with each pitch running in courses, with up to 5 strings per course, in order to boost the volume. The strings come in various thicknesses, and are tied at one end by screws, and at the other with tuning pegs. The pegs and screws are covered during playing by a hinged panel/board. This panel is opened up during tuning to access the tuning pegs.


There are usually four to five bridges on a ''yangqin''. From right to left, they are: bass bridge, "right bridge", tenor bridge, "left bridge", and the chromatic bridge. During playing, one is supposed to strike the strings on the left side of the bridges. However, the strings on the "chromatic bridge" are struck on the right, and strings on the "left bridge" can be struck on both sides of the bridge.


The hammers are made of flexible bamboo, and one end is half covered by rubber. Due to their unique construction, there are two ways to play: with the rubber side for a softer sound, and with the bamboo side for a crisper, more percussive sound. This technique, known as 反竹 , is best utilized in the higher ranges of the yangqin. Additionally, the ends of the sticks can be used to pluck the strings, producing a sharp, clear sound. ''Glissandos'' can also be achieved in this way by running the ends of the sticks up or down the strings.

Furthermore, some songs require the use of "双音琴竹" , literally "double-note yangqin hammers". These specially-constructed hammers have 2 striking surfaces, allowing the player to play up to 4 notes simultaneously , resulting in a rich, powerful tone, which is especially pronounced in the lower registers due to the strings' long echoes. 林冲夜奔 , composed by 项祖华 , is a representative solo piece which utilizes 双音琴竹.

When using 双音琴竹, the left hand holds a beater that plays intervals of a perfect fourth, while the right hand's beater plays thirds. These intervals are standard over most of the yangqin's range, due to the positioning of its strings.

Cylindrical nuts

On both sides of the yangqin, aside from the tuning screws, are numerous cylindrical metal that can be moved for fine tuning the strings or to raise the strings slightly to eliminate unwanted vibrations that may occur. More modern designs also have moveable ball-shaped nuts that can be adjusted on the fly with the fingers; this provides some microtuning and additional dynamics during performances, such as'' portamentos'' and ''vibratos'' .

Manner of Performance

The sticks are held, one in each hand, and hit the strings alternately. In the orchestra, the yangqin often adds to the harmony by playing chords or arpeggios. As the yangqin is softer than other Chinese instruments, it is usually positioned at the front of the orchestra, in the row just in front of the conductor. However, this is not a rule: the Singapore Chinese Orchestra positions the yangqin close to the percussion section. As the yangqin's tones sustain long after they have been played, such an arrangement minimizies the that results. If the hands are free , covering the strings with the hands quickly the vibrations. The yangqin has been called the "Chinese piano" as it has an indispensable role in the accompaniment of Chinese string and wind instruments.

The yangqin's solo repertoire calls for more techniques than is usually required in orchestral pieces. Examples include pressing down on the strings to produce ''vibrato'' effects, similar to that of a guzheng, as well as harmonics and 颤竹 , which involves flicking the sticks lightly over the strings, causing them to vibrate, which results in a short, quick ''tremolo.'' Numerous other techniques, such as ''portamento'' - a glide from one note to another - are also used.

Arrangement of Pitches

The ''yangqin'' is a chromatic instrument with a range of slightly over four octaves. The middle C is located at the tenor bridge, third section from the bottom.

The pitches are arranged so that in general, moving one section away from the player's body corresponds to a transposition of a whole tone upwards. Similarly, moving one section towards the left of the performer generally corresponds to a transposition of a perfect pitch upwards. These are only since the arrangement has to be modified towards the extremes of the pitch range to fill out notes in the chromatic scale. Such an arrangement facilitates transposition.

In the playing of traditional Chinese music, most Chinese ''yangqin'' players use a numerical notation system called ''jianpu'', rather than Western staff notation.

Electric ''yangqin''

The ''yangqin'' has also been modified, much like an electric guitar, to be an amplified electronic instrument.

Standard repertoire

; Solo pieces
* Joyous News
* Three-Six
* Song of the Border
* Opening the Well of Happiness with Our Hands
* Spring Arrives at the Qing River
* Thunder During a Drought
* Dragon Boat
* Festive Tianshan
* The General's Command
* The Red Flower
* Seagull
* Beautiful Africa
* Hand-Waving Dance of the Tu Tribe
* Green Bamboo Forest
* Lin Chong Flees in the Night
; Concertos
* Ya Lu Zang Bu Riverside
* Romance of the Yellow Earth
* Memory
* The Phoenix Nods Its Head
* Ocean Gorge - a symphonic poem
* Manchu Countryside Capriccio
* Yellow River

Zhu (string instrument)

The ''zhu'' was an ancient Chinese string instrument. Although it is no longer used, three very old specimens in varying degrees of preservation survive. One with five strings, dating to approximately 433 BC, was discovered in the Tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng, in the Hubei province of central China.

It first became popular during the Warring States Period, when its most famous player was Gao Jianli, a citizen of the state of who attracted the attention and played for Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China. The instrument remained popular through the and dynasties, and was lost sometime during the Song Dynasty.

Little is known about the instrument but it is believed to have been a zither with a rectangular wooden boody, with silk or gut strings that were played with a slender stick. Although ancient sources state that the instrument was struck , it is possible that it was actually plucked with the stick in the manner of the Korean ''komungo''.




The ''zhuihu'' is a two-stringed string instrument from China. In construction, it resembles the ''sanxian'', and likely evolved as a bowed version of that instrument. Unlike bowed string instruments in the huqin family , the ''zhuihu'' has a fretless fingerboard against which the strings are pressed while playing.

The ''zhuihu'' is used to accompany a form of traditional narrative singing called ''zhuizi'' which originated in the Henan province of China.

A more modern version of the ''zhuihu'' called ''leiqin'' was developed in China in the 20th century. Another related instrument is the Japanese ''kokyu''.


The ''leiqin'' is a Chinese bowed string instrument.


It has a metal soundbox covered with snakeskin and a long fretless fingerboard. The two strings pass over a small bridge that is placed on the snakeskin, near the top edge.

Playing technique

It is played while the player is seated in a chair, with the instrument's body resting in the player's lap and the instrument held in a vertical or near-vertical position. Unlike the ''erhu'' and other instruments in the ''huqin'' family, the strings are pressed against the fingerboard in the manner of a ''sanxian''.


The ''leiqin'' was adapted from an earlier traditional instrument called ''zhuihu'' in the 1920s.




The dihu is a large bowed string instrument from China. It has a large soundbox covered on one end with snakeskin. Like most other members of the huqin family of instruments, it has two strings and is held vertically. The instrument's name derives from "dī," meaning "low," and "hú" .

The instrument comes in three sizes:
*The ''xiaodihu'' , pitched one octave below the ''erhu'' . It is the tenor member of the erhu family .
*The ''zhongdihu'', pitched one octave below the zhonghu . It is the bass member of the erhu family.
*The ''dadihu'', pitched one octave below the ''xiaodihu'' and two octaves below the erhu . It is the contrabass member of the erhu family.

The ''dihu'' family was developed for orchestral use in the 1930s as lower members of the ''erhu'' family , but by the late 20th century it had largely fallen into disuse. Part of the reason for this is that it is unwieldy to play. Also, the fact that the bow passes between the instrument's two strings means that playing pizzicato is difficult; thus, the larger four-string gehu and diyingehu are generally used in Chinese orchestras for the lower bowed string voices instead.

Dahu (instrument)

The dahu is a large bowed string instrument from China. It has a large soundbox covered on one end with snakeskin. Like most other members of the huqin family of instruments, it has two strings and is held vertically. The instrument is generally pitched one octave below the ''erhu'', and is considerably larger than the ''erhu''. Its name derives from the Chinese word for "large" , and the word ''hú'' .

The ''dahu'' was developed for orchestral use in the 1930s as the tenor member of the ''erhu'' family , but by the late 20th century it had largely fallen into disuse. Part of the reason for this is that it is unwieldy to play. Also, the fact that the bow passes between the instrument's two strings means that playing pizzicato is difficult; thus, the larger gehu and diyingehu are generally used in Chinese orchestras for the lower bowed string voices instead.

The ''dahu'' is sometimes also called ''cizhonghu''. It is also referred to as ''xiaodihu'', being the same instrument as the smallest of the three sizes of ''dihu'' , the others being the ''zhongdihu'' and ''dadihu''.


The ''gehu'' is a instrument developed in the 20th century by the Chinese musician Yang Yusen . It is a fusion of the Chinese huqin family and the cello. Its four strings are also tuned C-G-D-A, exactly like the cello's. Unlike most other instruments in the ''huqin'' family, the bridge does not contact the snakeskin, which faces to the side.

There is also a contrabass ''gehu'' that functions as a Chinese double bass, known as the ''diyingehu'', ''digehu'', or ''beigehu'' .

By the late 20th century the ''gehu'' had become a rare instrument, even within China, as the tendency for the snakeskin to lose its tightness increases with humidity. Today, it is used mostly in Hong Kong and Taiwan, although even there, the cello is beginning to become a popular replacement for it. In addition, there are also other Chinese instruments that are able to take on the role bowed bass range instrument, such as the ''laruan'' , the ''lapa'' , and the bass ''matouqin''.


The ''diyingehu'' is a Chinese string instrument in the ''huqin'' family. It was developed by Yang Yusen along with the ''gehu'' in the 20th century. It has four strings and is the Chinese equivalent of the double bass.


The ''lāruǎn'' is a relatively new Chinese string instrument blending the acoustics of the ''ruan'' with that of the Western cello. Its larger counterpart is the ''dalaruan'', which corresponds to the double bass.

These instruments were created in the 20th century to be an alternative to other bowed bass register instruments used in Chinese orchestras, such as ''dihu'', cello/double bass, ''gehu''/''diyingehu'', ''damatouqin''/''dimatouqin'', and ''paqin''/''dapaqin''. The China National Traditional Orchestra of Beijing is one of the few Chinese orchestras using this instrument.









Datong (instrument)




He County

He County is a district in under the jurisdiction of Chaohu. Its population is 650,000 and its area is 1412 square kilometers. The government of He County is located at Liyang Town.

Juchao District has jurisdiction over 11 towns and 4 townships.

Fossils of ''Homo erectus'', a predecessor of modern humans, were excavated from Longtandong cave on the side of Wanjiashan mountain in Hexian between 1980 and 1981.




The ''huluhu'' is a Chinese string instrument in the ''huqin'' family of instruments. It has two strings, and its sound box is made from a gourd, with a face made of thin wood. It is used primarily by the Zhuang people of the southern Chinese province of Guangxi.

The instrument's name is derived from the Chinese words ''húlú'' and ''hú'' .


The ''maguhu'' is a Chinese string instrument in the ''huqin'' family of instruments. It has two strings and its sound box is made from the femur bone of a horse . The front end of the sound box is covered with snake skin , and the end of the neck is carved in the shape of a horse's head.

The ''maguhu'' is used primarily by the Zhuang and Buyei peoples of the southern Chinese province of Guangxi. It is used in the ensemble that accompanies ''guiju'' and is also used in the ''bayin'' ensemble of the Zhuang people .

The instrument's name is derived from the Chinese words ''mǎ gǔ'', meaning "horse bone," and ''hú'' .


The ''tuhu'' is a Chinese string instrument in the ''huqin'' family of instruments. It is used primarily by non- ethnic groups of southern China, particularly the Zhuang, who live in the Guangxi province and use it in their ''bayin'' ensemble. It is also used in Yunnan, most prominently in Funing County, Wenshan Zhuang and Miao Autonomous Prefecture.

The instrument's sound box is made from a , which is covered on the playing end with snake skin. The instrument has two strings that are tuned to the interval of a fifth. It is held vertically and produces a lower pitched sound than the ''maguhu'', another southern Chinese fiddle with which it is sometimes played.


The ''jiaohu'' is a Chinese string instrument in the huqin family of instruments. It has two strings and its sound box is made from a the horn of a cow. The open front end of the sound box is covered with snake skin. The instrument is used primarily by the Gelao people of the southern Chinese province of Guangxi.

The instrument's name is derived from the Chinese words ''jiǎo'' and ''hú'' .


The ''sihu'' is a Chinese string instrument with four strings. It is a member of the ''huqin'' family of instruments.


The instrument's name comes from the words ''sì'' and ''hú'' . Its soundbox and neck are made from hardwood and the playing end of the soundbox is covered with , cow, or sheep skin.

There are several sizes of ''sihu''; the lowest of these is generally tuned C, C, G, G; the medium size is tuned G, G, D, D; and the smallest size is tuned D, D, A, A.


The instrument is held vertically, with its soundbox on the player's lap, and its strings are tuned in pairs. The hair of the bow passes between the two pairs of strings.


The ''sihu'' is primarily associated with the Mongolian culture, and is played by Mongolians in Mongolia and also in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China. It is also used as a traditional instrument in the Liaoning, Jilin, Heilongjiang provinces of China.

It is also used as an accompanying instrument in various Chinese narrative genres, including Beijing ''dagu'', plum blossom ''dagu'', ''xihe dagu'', Tianjin new tunes, Shandong ''qin shu'', Northeast ''dagu'', Hubei song, Shaoxing ''lianhua luo'', Shanxi ''er ren'', Inner Mongolia ''er ren'', northeast dance duet, lucky play, Beijing opera derived drama from ballads, Hebei ''pi ying'' , and Henan ''erjiaxian'' traditional entertainment involving talking, singing, and drama.

Similar instruments include the ''d&'' and the Tuvan ''byzaanchy''.


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The ''sanhu'' is a bowed string instrument with three strings. It was developed in the 1970s and is essentially a three-stringed version of the two-stringed ''erhu'', with an additional bass string.

The Yi people of the Yunnan province of southwest China play a large three-stringed traditional bowed instrument that is also called ''sanhu''.




The ''erhu'' , also called ''nanhu'' , and sometimes known in the West as the "Chinese violin" or " two-string fiddle," is a two-stringed musical instrument, used as a solo instrument as well as in small ensembles and large orchestras. It is the most popular instrument in the ''huqin'' family of Chinese bowed string instruments, together with the ''zhonghu'' , ''gaohu'' , ''banhu'' , ''jinghu'' , ''sihu'' , and numerous others.


The erhu can be traced back to instruments introduced into China more than a thousand years ago. It is believed to have evolved from the xiqin , which was described as a foreign, two-stringed lute in ''Yue Shu'' , an encyclopedic work on music written by Chen Yang in the Northern Song Dynasty. The xiqin is believed to have originated from the Xi people of Central Asia, and have come to China in the 10th century.

The first Chinese character of the name of the instrument is believed to come from the fact that it has two strings. An alternate explanation states that it comes from the fact that it is the second highest huqin in pitch to the gaohu in the modern Chinese orchestra. The second character indicates that it is a member of the huqin family. The name "huqin" literally means "barbarian instrument," showing that the instrument may have originated from regions to the north or west of China inhabited by non- peoples.

The ''jing erhu'' is a variety of ''erhu'' that is used in Beijing opera.

Historical erhu and bowed string bows

The historic bowed zithers, including the xiqin, yazheng, and yaqin, and the Korean ajaeng, were generally played by with a rosined stick, which created friction against the strings. As soon as the horsehair bow was invented, it spread very widely. The Central Asian horse peoples occupied a territory that included the Silk Road, along which goods and innovations were transported rapidly for thousands of miles .


The ''erhu'' consists of a long vertical stick-like , at the top of which are two large tuning pegs, and at the bottom is a small resonator body which is covered with python skin on the front end. Two strings are attached from the pegs to the base, and a small loop of string placed around the neck and strings acting as a pulls the strings towards the skin, holding a small wooden bridge in place.

Various dense and heavy hardwoods are used in making the ''erhu''. According to Chinese references the woods include ''zi tan'' , ''lao hong mu'' , ''wu mu'' , and ''hong mu'' . Particularly fine ''erhu''s are often made from pieces of old furniture. A typical ''erhu'' measures 81cm from top to bottom, the length of the bow also being 81cm.

The parts of the ''erhu'':
*''Qín tong'' - sound box or resonator body; it is hexagonal , octagonal , or, less commonly, round.
*''Qín pí/She pí'' - skin, made from . The python skin gives the ''erhu'' its characteristic sound.
*''Qín gan'' - .
*''Qín tou'' - top or tip of neck, usually a simple curve with a piece of bone or plastic on top, but is sometimes elaborately carved with a 's head.
*''Qín zhou'' - tuning pegs, traditional wooden, or metal machine gear pegs.
*''Qiān jin'' - , made from string, or, less commonly, a metal hook.
*''Nèi xián'' - inside or inner string, usually tuned to D4, nearest to player.
*''Wai xián'' - outside or outer string, usually tuned to A4.
*''Qín ma'' - bridge, made from wood.
*''Gong'' - bow, has screw device to vary bow hair tension.
*''Gong gan'' - bow stick, made from bamboo.
*''Gong máo'' - bow hair, usually white horsehair.
*''Qín diàn'' - pad, a piece of sponge, felt, or cloth placed between the strings and skin below the bridge to improve its sound.
*''Qín tuō'' - base, a piece of wood attached to the bottom of the ''qín tong'' to provide a smooth surface on which to rest on the leg.

Most erhu are mass produced in factories. The three most esteemed centres of erhu making are Beijing, Shanghai, and Suzhou. In the collectivist period after the establishment of the People's Republic of China, these factories were formed by merging what had been previously private workshops. Although most erhu were machine-made in production lines, the highest quality instruments were hand made by specialist craftsmen.

The ''erhu'' has some unusual features. First is that its characteristic sound is produced through the vibration of the skin by bowing. Second, there is no fingerboard; the player stops the strings by pressing their fingertips onto the strings without the strings touching the neck. Third, the bow hair is never separated from the strings ; it passes between them as opposed to over them . Lastly, although there are two strings, they are very close to each other and the player's left hand in effect plays as if on one string.
The inside string is generally tuned to D4 and the outside string to A4, a fifth higher. The maximum range of the instrument is three and a half octaves, from D4 up to A7, before a stopping finger reaches the part of the string in contact with the bow hair. The usual playing range is about two and a half octaves.

In the 20th century, there have been attempts to standardize and improve the erhu, with the aim of producing a louder and better sounding instrument. One major change was the use of steel strings instead of silk. The move to steel strings was made gradually. By 1950, the thinner A string had been replaced by a violin E string with the thicker D string remaining silk. By 1958, professional players were using purpose made D and A steel erhu strings as standard.

Use of python skin

In 1988, China passed its Law on the Protection of Endangered Species after ratifying the UN Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species , making it illegal to use and trade unlicensed pythons. To regulate the use of python skins, China's State Forestry Administration introduced a certification scheme between python skin sellers in Southeast Asia and musical instrument makers in China. From January 1, 2005, new regulations also require ''erhu''s to have a certificate from the State Forestry Administration, which certify that the ''erhu'' python skin is not made with wild pythons, but from farm-raised pythons. Individuals are allowed to take up to two ''erhu''s out of China when traveling; commercial buyers need additional export certificates.

Outside China, manufacturers of erhu are able to issue their own CITES licenses with approval by governments of their respective countries. Such exports are legal as they have been made from legal skin sources.

Erhu music

A notable composer for the erhu was Liu Tianhua , a Chinese musician who studied Western music as well. He composed 47 exercises and 10 solo pieces which were central to the development of the erhu as a solo instrument. His works for the instrument include ''Yue Ye'' and ''Zhu ying Yao hong'' .

Other solo pieces include ''Er Quan Ying Yue'' by A Bing, ''Sai Ma'' by Huang Haihuai, ''Henan Xiaoqu'' by Liu Mingyuan, and ''Sanmenxia Changxiangqu'' by Liu Wenjin. Most solo works are commonly performed with yangqin accompaniment, although pieces such as the ten solos by Liu Tianhua and ''Er Quan Ying Yue'' originally did not have accompaniment.

In addition to the solo repertoire, the erhu is also one of the main instruments in regional music ensembles such as Jiangnan sizhu, Chinese opera ensembles, and the modern large Chinese orchestra.

The erhu is also used in the music of the Cirque du Soleil show ''''.Even fusion progressive rock groups like The Hsu-nami have incorporated the ''erhu'' into their music and it is their lead instruments. It is also incorporated in the Taiwanese black metal band ChthoniC

The erhu is also featured prominently in the soundtrack for the TV series ''''.

Playing technique

The ''erhu'' is almost always tuned to the interval of a fifth. The inside string is generally tuned to D4 and the outside string to A4. This is the same as the two middle strings of the violin.
The ''erhu'' is played sitting down placed on the top of the left thigh.
*Right hand
The bow is held with an underhand grip. The bow hair is adjusted so it is slightly loose, tension is provided by the fingers of the right hand. Bowing techniques include ''la gong'' , ''tui gong'' . The bow hair is placed in between the two strings and both sides of the bow hair is used to produce sound, the player pushes the bow away from the body when bowing the A string , and pulls it inwards when bowing the "inside" D string.

Aside from the usual bowing technique used for most pieces, the ''erhu'' can also be plucked, usually using the index finger of the right hand. This produces a dry, muted tone which is sometimes desired in contemporary pieces.

*Left hand
Techniques include ''hua yin'' , ''rou xian'' , ''huan ba'' , etc.

Notable performers

Prior to the 20th century, most ''huqin'' instruments were used primarily to accompany various forms of Chinese opera and . The use of the erhu as a solo instrument began in the early 20th century along with the development of ''guoyue'' , a modernized form of Chinese traditional music written or adapted for the professional concert stage. Active in the early 20th century were Zhou Shaomei and Liu Tianhua . Liu laid the foundations of modern erhu playing with his ten unaccompanied solos and 47 studies composed in the 1920s and 1930s. Liu Beimao was born in Jiangyin, Jiangsu. His compositions include ''Xiao hua gu'' . Jiang Fengzhi and Chen Zhenduo were students of Liu Tianhua, the piece ''Hangong Qiuyue'' was adapted and arranged by Jiang. was a blind street musician, shortly before his death in 1950 two Chinese musicologists recorded him playing a few erhu and pipa solo pieces, the best known being ''Erquan Yingyue''.

With the founding of the and the expansion of the conservatory system, the solo erhu tradition continued to develop. Important performers during this time include Lu Xiutang , Zhang Rui Sun Wenming , Huang Haihuai , Liu Mingyuan , Tang Liangde , Zhang Shao , and Song Guosheng.

Liu Mingyuan was born in Tianjin. He was known for his virtuosity on many instruments of the huqin family, in particular the banhu. His compositions and arrangements include ''Henan Xiaoqu'' , and ''Cao Yuan Shang'' for zhonghu. For many years he taught at the China Conservatory of Music in Beijing.

Tang Liangde was born in Shanghai into a famous Shanghainese musical family. He won the "Shanghai's Spring" erhu competition and continued to be the soloist for the Chinese Film Orchestra in Beijing, his composition and solos can be heard throughout the ''Nixon to China'' documentary movie. Tang was the soloist and performed at the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, then went onto music broadcasting and education for the Hong Kong Government's Music Office making worldwide tours, and was named Art Educator of the Year in 1991 by the Hong Kong Artist Guild.

Wang Guotong was born in Dalian, Liaoning. He studied with Jiang Fengzhi, Lan Yusong and Chen Zhenduo, and in 1960 graduated from the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. He performed the premiere of ''Sanmenxia Changxiangqu'' composed by Liu Wenjin. In 1972 Wang became the erhu soloist, and later art director, with the China Broadcasting Traditional Orchestra. He returned to the Central Conservatory of Music in 1983 as head of the Chinese music department. He has written many books and articles on erhu playing and has performed in many countries. Wang also worked with the Beijing National Instruments Factory to further develop erhu design.

Min Huifen was born in Yixing, Jiangsu. Min first became known as the winner of the 1964 fourth Shanghai Spring national erhu competition. She studied with Lu Xiutang and Wang Yi, and graduated from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music in 1968, and became the erhu soloist with the ''Shanghai minzu yuetuan'' .

was the featured soloist for the Chinese National Song and Dance Ensemble of Beijing from 1978-1996. She was a national erhu champion, frequently recorded for the Chinese film and record industry, and is listed in famous persons of China.

The erhu is featured along with other traditional Chinese instruments such as the pipa in the contemporary Chinese instrumental music group, Twelve Girls Band. They perform traditional Chinese music as well as Western classical and popular music.

A few groups have utilized the ''erhu'' in a rock context. The Taiwanese black metal band ChthoniC uses the ''erhu''; they are the only black metal band to do so. The New Jersey-based progressive rock band The Hsu-nami plays a variety of rock sub-styles including metal, psychedelic, prog rock, and funk. An amplified ''erhu'' takes the place of lead vocals.

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The ''zhonghu'' is a low-pitched bowed string instrument. It is a member of the huqin family together with the erhu and gaohu, and was developed in the 20th century as the alto member of the huqin family to be used in orchestras of Chinese traditional instruments.

The ''zhonghu'' is the same as the erhu but is slightly larger and is lower pitched. Its body is covered on the playing end with snakeskin. The instrument has two strings, which are generally tuned to the interval of a , to A and E or to G and D .




The ''gaohu'' is a string instrument used in playing traditional Cantonese music and Cantonese opera. It belongs to the ''huqin'' family of instruments, together with the ''zhonghu'', ''erhu'', ''banhu'', ''jinghu'', and ''sihu'', its name means "high pitched ''huqin''". It has two strings and its soundbox is covered on the front end with snakeskin .

The ''gaohu'' was developed in the 1920s by the musician and composer Lü Wencheng and is now the leading instrument of Cantonese music and opera ensembles; prior to this the lead bowed instrument was a similar instrument called ''erxian''. The ''gaohu'' is similar in construction to the ''erhu'' but has a slightly smaller soundbox, commonly circular, and is tuned a higher, to G4 and D5. Whereas most ''huqin'' is placed on top of the left thigh, the traditional ''gaohu'' is played with the soundbox held in between the knees. It has a brighter and lighter tone as compared to the ''erhu''. Well known pieces for the ''gaohu'' include ''Bu Bu Gao'' and ''Ping Hu Qiu Yue'' .

Although originally a regional instrument used only in Cantonese music, the ''gaohu'' is used in the modern large Chinese orchestra, as part of the string family, along with the erhu, zhonghu, banhu, cello, and double bass.

Notable ''gaohu'' players include:
*Lü Wencheng in Chinese
*Liu Tianyi in Chinese
*Gan Shangshi
*Yu Qiwei in English in Chinese

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Video of Mr Yu Qiwei performing the ''gaohu'' piece ''Ping Hu Qiu Yue'' . Link:


The ''banhu'' is a Chinese traditional bowed string instrument in the huqin family of instruments. It is used primarily in northern China. ''Ban'' means a piece of wood and ''hu'' is short for ''huqin''.

Like the more familiar erhu and gaohu, the ''banhu'' has two strings, is held vertically, and the bow hair passes in between the two strings. The ''banhu'' differs in construction from the ''erhu'' in that its soundbox is generally made from a coconut shell rather than wood, and instead of a snakeskin that is commonly used to cover the faces of ''huqin'' instruments, the ''banhu'' uses a thin wooden board.

The ''banhu'' is sometimes also called "banghu," because it is often used in ''bangzi''
opera of northern China, such as Qinqiang from Shaanxi province.

The ''yehu'', another type of Chinese fiddle with a coconut body and wooden face, is used primarily in southern China.

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The ''jinghu'' is a bowed string instrument in the ''huqin'' family, used primarily in Beijing opera. It is the smallest and highest pitched instrument in the ''huqin'' family.


Like most of its relatives, the ''jinghu'' has two strings that are customarily tuned to the interval of a fifth which the hair of the non-detachable bow passes in between. The strings were formerly made of silk, but in modern times are increasingly made of steel or nylon. Unlike other ''huqin'' instruments it is made of bamboo. Its cylindrical soundbox is covered with snakeskin on the front end, which forms a taut drum on which the bridge rests, sandwiched between the drum and the strings, which are connected to a peg at the bottom of the soundbox.


In Beijing opera, the jinghu often doubles the singer's voice. ''Jinghu'' performers in Beijing opera rarely shift into higher positions, and instead choose to compress the melody into a single octave.

The ''jinghu'' was also featured prominently in the single "Shinjitsu no Uta" by the Japanese band Do as Infinity.

Jing erhu

The ''jing erhu'' is a Chinese two-stringed bowed instrument in the ''huqin'' family of instruments, similar to the ''erhu''. It is so named because it is used in ''jing xi'', or Beijing opera. It is lower in pitch than the ''jinghu'', which is the leading melodic instrument in the Beijing opera orchestra, and is considered a supporting instrument to the ''jinghu''.

The ''jing erhu'' has a wooden body and neck. It is played vertically, with the body resting on the player's left thigh and the horsehair of the bow passing between the two strings. It previously used silk strings, but since the 1960s has more commonly used steel strings.

The ''jing erhu'' was popularized in the 1920s by Wang Shaoqing , a musician in the troupe of Mei Lanfang.


The ''erxian'' is a Chinese string instrument in the ''huqin'' family of instruments. It has two strings and is used primarily in Cantonese music. In the 1920s, following the development of the ''gaohu'', the ''erxian'' experienced a decline and since the late 20th century has been little used.

Similar instruments also called ''erxian'' are used in Chaozhou music and in the ''nanguan'' music of the Fujian province and Taiwan.


The ''tiqin'' is a name applied to several two-stringed Chinese bowed string instruments in the ''huqin'' family of instruments.

There are several types of ''tiqin'':

*The ''tiqin'' used for ''kunqu'' opera
*The ''tiqin'' used for
*The ''tiqin'' used for Chaozhou music
*The ''tiqin'' used in and

Additionally, the term ''tiqin'' is used in as a generic term referring to Western bowed string instruments of the violin family:

*''Xiao tiqin'' = violin
*''Zhong tiqin'' = viola
*''Da tiqin'' = cello
*''Diyin tiqin'' = double bass


:''For the Israelite king, see Jehu''.

The ''yehu'' is a Chinese bowed string instrument in the ''huqin'' family of instruments. ''Ye'' means coconut and ''hu'' is short for ''huqin''. It is used particularly in the southern coastal provinces of China and in Taiwan. The instrument's soundbox is made from a coconut shell, which is cut on the playing end and covered with a piece of coconut wood instead of the snakeskin commonly used on other ''huqin'' instruments such as the ''erhu'' or ''gaohu''. As with most ''huqin'' the bow hair passes in between the two strings. Many players prefer to use silk strings rather than the more modern steel strings generally used for the ''erhu'', giving the instrument a distinctly hollow, throaty timbre.

The instrument comes in various sizes. In Chaozhou music it is a leading instrument, and is tuned quite high. In Cantonese music it can be quite large and is often tuned to a relatively low pitch, lower than the ''erhu'' . It is used as an accompaniment instrument in the local musics and operas of various areas, including Guangdong, Fujian, and Taiwan. It is an important instrument in the music of the Chaozhou and Hakka peoples.

Related instruments include the Vietnamese ''&'', the Thai ''saw ou'', and the Cambodian ''tro u''. The ''banhu'', used primarily in northern China, also has a coconut resonator and wooden face but is tuned quite high and has a much brighter timbre.


The ''daguangxian'' is a Chinese bowed string instrument in the ''huqin'' family of instruments. It is used primarily in Taiwan and Fujian, among the Hakka.


The ''guzheng'', also spelled ''gu zheng'' or ''gu-zheng'' or ''zheng'' is a traditional musical instrument. It belongs to the zither family of string instruments.

The ''guzheng'' is the parent instrument of the Japanese '''', the Mongolian ''yatga'', the Korean ''gayageum'', and the Vietnamese ''&''. The parent instrument of the ''guzheng'' is the ''''.

The ''guzheng'' should not to be confused with the ''guqin'' .


The modern-day ''guzheng'' is a plucked, half-tube zither with movable bridges and 21 strings, although it can have anywhere from 15 to 25 strings . The ''guzheng's'' strings were formerly made of twisted silk, though by the 20th century most players used metal strings . Since the mid-20th century most performers use steel strings flatwound with nylon.

The ''guzheng'' has a large resonant cavity made from ''wu tong'' wood . Other components may be made from other woods, usually for structural and decorative purposes.


The ancestry of the ''guzheng'' can be traced back to two other Chinese plucked zithers, the '''' and the ''guqin''. The ''guzheng'' has existed since the Warring States Period and became especially popular during the Qin dynasty. The number of strings on the ''guzheng'' has always fluctuated, as we have as few as 6 to as many as 23 strings during the Tang dynasty. The earliest record of the ''guzheng'' in ''Shi Ji'' is attributed to the historian Sima Qian in 91 BC.

Until 1961, the common ''guzheng'' had 16 strings, although by the mid-20th century 18-string ''guzhengs'' were also in use. In 1961 Xu Zhengao together with Wang Xunzhi introduced the first 21-string ''guzheng'' after two years of research and development. In 1961, they also invented the "S-shaped" left string rest, which was quickly adopted by all ''guzheng'' makers and is still used today, whether in the shape of the letter "S", "C", etc. This curve allows for greater ease in tuning the strings and, combined with strings of varied thickness, allows for greater resonance in both the deeper and higher pitch ranges; this timbre was a result of simply adding more strings to the instrument, a problem encountered in the making of the "improved" gayageums of North Korea. The 21-string zheng is the most commonly used, but some traditional musicians still use the 16-string, especially along the southeastern coastal provinces of China and in Taiwan.

The ''guzheng'' is tuned to a pentatonic scale, the 16-string zheng is tuned to give three complete octaves, while the 21-string zheng has four complete octaves.

Playing styles and performers

There are many techniques used in the playing of the ''guzheng'', including basic plucking actions at the right portion and pressing actions at the left portion as well as tremolo . These techniques of playing the ''guzheng'' can create sounds that can evoke the sense of a cascading waterfall, thunder, horses' hooves, and even the scenic countryside. Plucking is done mainly by the right hand with four attached to the fingers. Advanced players may use picks attached to the fingers of both hands. In more traditional performances however, plectra are used solely on the right hand, reflecting its use for melodic purposes and its relative importance in comparison to the left hand which is used solely for purposes of ornamentation. Ancient picks were made of ivory and later also from tortoise shell. Ornamentation includes a tremolo involving the right thumb and index finger rapidly and repeatedly plucking the same note. Another commonly used ornamentation is a wide vibrato, achieved by repeatedly pressing with the left hand on the left side of the bridge. This technique is used liberally in Chinese music, as well as in Korean ''gayageum'' music but is used only rarely in the music of the Japanese koto.

In arrangements of ''guqin'' pieces, harmonics are frequently used, along with single-string glissandi, evoking the sound of the ''guqin''. Harmonics are achieved by lightly placing the left hand in the middle of the string while plucking on the right end of string.

The ''guzheng's'' pentatonic scale is tuned to Do, Re, Mi, So and La, but Fa and Ti can also be produced by pressing the strings to the left of the bridges. Well known pieces for the instrument include ''Yu Zhou Chang Wan'' , ''Gao Shan Liu Shui'' and ''Han Gong Qiu Yue'' .

Two broad playing styles can be identified as Northern and Southern, although many traditional regional styles still exist. The Northern styles is associated with Henan and Shandong while the Southern style is with the Chaozhou and Hakka regions of eastern Guangdong. Both ''Gao Shan Liu Shui'' and ''Han Gong Qiu Yue'' are from the Shandong school, while ''Han ya xi shui'' and
''Chu shui lian'' are major pieces of the Chaozhou and Hakka repertories respectively.

Important players and teachers in the 20th century include Wang Xunzhi who popularized the Wulin ''zheng'' school based in Hangzhou, Zhejiang; Lou Shuhua, who rearranged a traditional ''guzheng'' piece and named it ''Yu zhou chang wan''; Liang Tsai-Ping , who edited the first ''guzheng'' teaching manual, ''Nizheng pu'' in 1938; Cao Dongfu , from Henan; Gao Zicheng and Zhao Yuzhai , both from Shandong; Su Wenxian ; Guo Ying and Lin Maogen , both from Chaozhou; the Hakka Luo Jiuxiang ; and Cao Guifen and Cao Zheng , both of whom trained in the Henan school. The Cao family from Henan are known for being masters of the ''guzheng''.

Many new pieces have been composed since the 1950s which used new playing techniques such as the playing of harmony and counterpoint by the left hand. Pieces in this new style include ''Qing feng nian'' , ''Zhan tai feng'' and the ''guzheng'' concerto "Miluo River Fantasia" . Contemporary experimental atonal pieces have been composed since the 1980s.

A more modern playing technique is using the left hand to provide harmony and bass notes, heavily influenced by the theory of Western music. This allows for greater flexibility in the instruments musical range, allowing for harmonic progression. This however also has its limitations, as it prevents the subtle ornamentations provided by the left hand in more traditional music. Students of the guzheng who take the Beijing Conservatory examinations are required to learn a repertoire of pieces both traditional and modern.

Twelve Girls Band is a contemporary Chinese instrumental group that features the ''guzheng'' as well as other traditional Chinese instruments such as the ''erhu'' and ''pipa''. They perform traditional Chinese music as well as Western popular and classical music.

The guzheng in other genres

The ''guzheng'' has been used by the Chinese performer in the rock band of Cui Jian, as well as in free improvised music. Zhang Yan used it in a jazz context, performing and recording with Asian American jazz bandleader Jon Jang. Other zheng players who perform in non-traditional styles include Randy Raine-Reusch, Mei Han, Zi Lan Liao, Levi Chen, Andreas Vollenweider, Jaron Lanier, Mike Hovancsek, Chih-Lin Chou, and David Sait. The American composer Lou Harrison played and composed for the instrument. Jerusalem based multi-instrumentalist Bradley Fish is the most widely recorded artist of loops for the ''guzheng''. Fish is known for using the ''guzheng'' with a rock-influenced style and electronic effects on his 1996 collaboration "The Aquarium Conspiracy" with Sugarcubes/Bj& drummer Sigtryggur Baldursson. The virtual band Gorillaz used the ''guzheng'' in their song "Hong Kong" from the ''Help!: A Day in the Life'' compilation .

Contemporary works for ''guzheng'' have been written by such non-Chinese composers as Halim El-Dabh, Kevin Austin, and Jon Foreman.

In the television drama series , actress Ruby Lin's character plays the guzheng, although she mimes to the music.




* from Robert Garfias site
* by Bradley Fish, with steel-string acoustic guitar and ''guzheng''