Top 10 Chinese Musical Instruments
Chinese musical instruments can trace its history to several thousand years ago. Each of them produces a different and unique sound and effect. These musical instruments not only entertain people but also play an important part in traditional Chinese culture. Now let us have a look at 10 famous Chinese music instruments:
1. Erhu (Chinese two-stringed fiddle ) 二胡
The Erhu (or Chinese violin) is a kind of two-stringed bowed musical instrument. Its history can be dated back to Tang Dynasty over 1,000 years ago. Erhu can be used as a solo performance as well as in small musical groups and large orchestras. It is one of the most popular bowed string instruments used by many ethnic groups in China.
2. Guzheng (Chinese Zither) 古筝
The Guzheng is a Chinese plucked zither. It is made of 18-23 or more strings and movable bridges. People believe that it has been invented during the Warring States Period (475-221 BC). The performer pluck the strings at the right portion with right hand, and left hand presses the string on the left side of the bridge to produce pitch ornamentation and vibrato. The skilled player can create sounds that can evoke the sense of waterfall, thunder, and even the scenic countryside.
3. Dizi (Chinese bamboo flute) 笛子
The Dizi (or Bamboo Flute) is a Chinese style flute. Dizi is made of bamboo, the body has six finger-holes, one blow-hole, and an extra hole between them covered by a thin membrane of reed. Dizi is a classical Chinese musical instrument widely used many genres of Chinese music. It is also very popular among the common Chinese people as it is easier to make and play than other music instruments.
4. Suona 唢呐
The Suona, also called Laba, is double-reed woodwind instrument. It can produce particularly loud and high-pitched sound and is widely used in Chinese traditional music ensembles especially in northern China. It is can be played solo or many times together with Sheng, drums, and other instruments in wedding and funeral ceremonies.
5. Big Drum 大鼓
Big Drum is usually a stretched hide over a hollow vessel. Player use two bamboo or wood sticks to beat the drum. From ancient to modern times, Big Drum has always been a folk musical instrument liked by people around the country. It is widely used in the occasions of celebration, military, entertainment and festival, etc.
6. Xiao 箫
The Xiao is a Chinese vertical flute with blow-hole at one end. Xiao is usually made of dark brown bamboo and can produce graceful and mellow sound suitable for both solo playing and chamber music ensembles. It is believed that the earliest Xiao was used by the Qiang people of Southwest China during the Han Dynasty (206B.C. -220A .D).
7. Hulusi 葫芦丝
The Hulusi is a free reed wind solo instrument that is very popular among the Dai and the Yi minorities in southwest Yunnan provinces. It is made of three bamboo pipes and a gourd chest; the center pipe has finger holes and the outer two are drone pipes. Hulusi has very pure, clarinet-like sound and is ideal for expressing soft and tender feelings.
8. Pipa (Chinese lute) 琵琶
The Pipa is a four-stringed Chinese musical instrument. It has 16 frets and a pear-shaped wooden body. It is able to express various emotions such as portraying battles and great tension or expressing tones on sad songs or love ballads. Pipa has a long history in China and is believed to have existed about two thousand years ago in China.
9. Sheng 笙
The Sheng is a mouth-blown free reed instrument. It is usually made of 17 bamboo pipes set in a small wind-chest. Its history can be traced back to 1100 BC. This mouth-blown instrument has a delightful, lyrical sound and it is traditionally played as an accompaniment to Suona or Dizi.
10. Guqin 古琴
The Guqin is a plucked seven-string zither. It has a history of some 3000 years. In ancient China, it has been favored by scholars as an instrument of elevating spirit. It is often regarded by the Chinese as “the father of Chinese music”, however, only a small number of people can play the instrument, because musical education of Guqin has never really reached general public.