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

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

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.

13 Responses

  1. paul gearing says:

    Fantastic– Cant play a thing ,but I listen a lot. The 2 string violin is amazing ,What is the harp/zither, that is struck by small bamboo hammers called.Why was”nt it included?

  2. Mahdi says:

    Would have been perfect if contained more Chinese instruments, but it is good still.

  3. ian pajulas says:

    thanks it really helps me in my project i hope you will make more of this but another country like vietnam laos because there instruments are few.

  4. The Guqin Forest says:

    Chinese music has such an interesting history. I would really like to learn about some lesser known Chinese instruments. This was a good article to learn about the popular ones.

  5. pet says:

    you banned from my chinses restaurant for life. life! life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. jay says:

    for global studies and we had to pick a country i choose china and there music because to me it sounds peacful but i never knew the stuff

  7. Saer says:

    Thanks really helped!!

  8. Chinese tea says:

    Thanks so much, I was looking for instruments from China to research what music I could use in my tea related videos. This list is my best starting point!

  9. abbs says:

    wow great help with meh hmk thx

    XD luckily i found this ma hmk is due tomoz and i already got detention today lol.


  10. Peter says:

    Of course more than 10, these are just most popular ones.

  11. sundy says:

    is the chinese musical instrument is ten?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *