The classic Chinese Orchestra has
bowed strings, plucked strings, winds, and percussion.
The erhu is a two-stringed fiddle
which has a small body and a long neck . There are two strings, with the bow inserted
between them. With a range of around three octaves, it's sound is rather like the violin,
but with a thinner tone due to the smaller resonating chamber. In the orchestra they are
usually divided into 1st and 20th century. Although said to be introduced by
foreigners, It has a long history in Chinese music. It has historically been associated
with the lower classes. But in the 20th
century it has attained a more
universal status in china.
This instrument is a kind of the huqin, which is
similar to the erhu. It uses a wooden sound board in the sound box. Also known as the ban
hu (clapper huqin) because it was heard in the bangzi, or "clapper operas" of
the 17th century.
The gaohu is very similar to the erhu
which is higher-pitched. The gaohu has a smaller body diameter and is usually tuned
to A and E but can also be tuned to G and D. It is offten used in Cantonese music and solo
The gehu is a mixture of the cello and the typical
Chinese stringed instrument. Using four strings and an endpin, it is played like a cello
and used primarily for bass support. Because the gehu uses a banjo-like membrane as the
sound board, the resulting sound is unlike the cello.
The zhonghu is slightly larger than the erhu and has
a beautiful lower tone. It is usually toned to G and D and can be used as a solo
instrument. It has a tone similar to that of a cello, but most likely be the viola.
The pipa is a fairly large lute-like instrument
with large frets and a broad finger-board. The pipa has a half pear shaped body. The pipa
has only one sound hole and its four strings are tuned to A, d,e, and a. The musician
tapes picks to all fingers on the hand except for the thumb, although all five are used.
The pipa has a range of about three octaves. It was introduced into China from Central
Asia prior to the T'ang Dynasty, and has both a "literary" and a
"martial" repertory. This instrument resembles the Spanish guitar
in some ways, with long finger-nails being cultivated to pluck the strings. With its
characteristic pear shape and four gut strings, many techniques and uses have developed,
to the point where it may be considered a characteristic of Chinese music.
This looks like a smaller version of the pipa
and sounds like a mandolin.
The liuqin's body is in the shape of a willow leaf. It has two sound holes and its four
strings are tuned to G, D1, G1, and D2. It is held diagonally and is played with a pick
made traditionally of horn, but more commonly today, plastic.
The ruan's ancient name was the pipa, but is
obviously quite different. Also known as the moon guitar, it comes in a
variety of different sizes and pitches, and is fitted with four strings. It is
played like a pipa, except that there is only one pick that is held in the strong hand.
There are three types of ruan, the high range, the middle range, and the low range. The
low range is tuned to A, E, B, and F, and the middle range is tuned to G, D, A, and E.
The yueqin evolved from the Ruan. It has kept the circular body of
the Ruan, but with no sound holes. It's four strings are split into two pairs, one of the
pairs is tuned to D, and the other pair is tuned to A. It has a range of about two
It actually originated in China and evolved into what it is today
during the 13th century, which is when it became known as the sanxian. It
uses a long fretless fingerboard. It has a small body and is covered on both sides
with snake skin. It is played with a pick, placed on the lap and has three strings. this instrument is also known as the samsien in Japan.
The yangqin is also known as the Chinese hammered
dulcimer. It is played with hammers made of thin bamboo. Like many instruments, the
yangqin is much more complicated than its
ancestor. the yangqin is coming in a variety of sizes, Some versions have a dampening pedal. The yangqin is
extremely popular as an orchestral, ensemble, and solo instrument. It is also used as an
accompaniment. The metallic tone resembles the harpsichord, and the concert
model has four octaves.
Also known as the guzheng . the zheng has a long rectangular body with 21 strings
and separate bridges for each string. At first it had five strings but has evolved
to its current form. has a range exceeding three octaves tuned to the
pentatonic scale. Its cousin, the guqin, has a softer sound, whereas the zheng has
a louder and brighter sound. Its playing technique enables the musician to play fast
contemporary music. Much like the yangqin, it is popular as a multi-use instrument.
The di, or di-tzu, is the traditional
Chinese flute. The di has eight holes, there is one blow hole, a hole covered with
a piece of membrane, and the other six are finger holes. It has a
range of about two octaves and a di player will often carry around many different di
because they are in different keys. Its sharp shrill sound means that only one is needed
in an orchestra.
This is one of the oldest varieties of Chinese
instruments, and consists of a bundle of between 17 to 36 pipes seated on a small wind
chamber. A free brass reed is placed at the foot of the instrument. It comes in three
tones, sorprano, alto, and tenor. They are often used as the "brass" section of
a Chinese orchestra
Although it has a very long history going
back to Han times and beyond, the xiao has been slow in developing a solo repertory. The
xiao is made of bamboo and has six finger holes. Although it looks similar to the di, it
is played vertically and has a softer tone. Although the xiao can cover two octaves, its
soft tone makes it unpopular as an orchestral instrument. It is the only instrument
appropriate for accompanying the qin, as it is suited to music of similar depth and
suona, also known as a horn or
"haidi", was first used during the Jin dynasty in Xinjiang. The shape of this
primitive kind of suona is similar to the wooden suona used by today's Uygur people. Until
the Ming dynasty, the structure of the suona used in the Central Plains was similar to the
modern suono. Since Qing dynasty and today, the suona is widely used in concerts, as
musical accompaniment and events such as weddings and funerals.
This is a reed instrument with a conical metal bell. It has a nasal penetrating sound and
comes in various sizes.
The suona is often the music instrument that sets the beat or is played in accompaniment
with the gong and drum. The suona is good at expressing cheer and enthusiasm.
A pair of cymbals
commonly used in the Chinese lion dances with a large drum (da-gu) and large and small
gongs (luo). When clashed together these cymbals have a loud crash with a long decay.
This Chinese drum is the modern descendant of an ancient gu found in the yin ruins of
Anyang, in Henan Province. A skin membrane covers both sides of a wooden body, often made
from cowhide. As the drum hangs within its
wooden frame, the player strikes the surface of the tang-gu with two wooden mallets, one
in each hand. In the West this drum is classified as a Membranophone.There are various
sizes of Chinese drums. The most popular is very large the shape of half an
hourglass. Both ends are covered with buffalo skin and it is beat at the larger end, which
is larger than the smaller end by a 2:1 ratio. The drumsticks used have a soft covering to
produce a dull, but loud beat. The smaller drum, called the xiao gu, or little drum, is of
a cylindrical shape slightly curving in at the ends. It is covered with various animal
skin and is beat with two thin sticks, which gives it a sharp sound.
The body of this Chinese drum, also known as
gang-gu or da-gu, is shaped like a flower vase, and usually decorated with floral
patterns. A stretched-skin covers each open side of the wooden body, where the lower skin
is typically "half to three-fifths" the size of the top skin. In the orchestra
several sizes of the flower drum are arranged together and often perform melodic solo
passages, having a characteristically "mellow" tone.
Very little is known about this
Chinese percussion instrument. Traditionally, the War Drum was carried on horseback by the
cavalry, referred to as a "grand military drum carried on horseback" in the
Chinese classics. According to a dictionary of the Han Period around 100AD (called the
Shuo-Wen), the drum was beaten only while the cavalry was moving. Once the army stopped
another drum was beaten.
There are a few references to the War drum in the classical literature of China, mainly
the Yue Chi. One translation of the text depicts the progression of the loyal and powerful
army: "The sound of drums and war-drums is full and stimulates the forward movement.
When the sovereign listens to the drums and war-drums, he is aware of his commanding
generals. When a superior person listens to music, he does not hear only the sounds, but
is aware of the thoughts that are linked with them."
Many factors go into how any one gong
sounds, so there are 12 classifications of gongs in China. The daluo to xiaoluo . This percussion
instrument is often used to create liveliness and to depict happy and festive spirit.
Luo is no longer an accompaniment instrument, it has been widely used as a leading
instrument in percussion ensemble or even orchestra pieces.