MUSICAL INSTRUMENT OF CHINA
Erhu - Bowed String Instrument
* The Erhu has a small body and a long neck. There are two strings, with the bow inserted between them. With a range of about three octaves, it's sound is rather like a violin, but with a thinner tone due to the smaller resonating chamber. In the 2nd orchestra they are usually divided into 1st and 2nd parts. The Erhu first appears about 1104 AD during the Song Dynasty. We bought ours in Zhengzhou in 1999. It hangs on the wall in our Great Room. You often see blind men playing this instrument in some of the big cities. I always enjoyed listening and gave them money for their efforts. Er is two in Chinese.
Sheng - Wind Instrument
* This is one of the oldest varieties of Chinese instruments. It first appears in 551 BC during the Zhou Dynasty (1111 to 222 BC). It consists of a bundle of between 17 to 36 pipes seated on a small wind chamber. A free brass reed ...view middle of the document...
The metallic tone resembles the harpsichord. It has the widest range of scale amongst the Chinese plucked-strings instruments (about 5 octaves). It is rather new instrument by Chinese standards, first appearing in 1368 from the Middle East, during the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644). We purchased this instrument in Xiamen in 1999.
Gong- Percussion Instrument
This instrument is used and often in Sichuan Opera. Sichuan Opera is quite raucous and has lots of percussion instruments to accent the movements of the actors. We enjoy Sichuan Opera and it is popular in the west. This one hangs in our Great Room and Paul uses it to announce dinner at times.
Plucked String Instrument
The Ruan is also known as the moon guitar, and comes in a variety of different sizes and pitches. It is fitted with four strings and frets. Its soundboard is wooden. Its appearance is much later in Chinese history.
Ruan (moon-shaped short-necked lute) is a Chinese fretted instrument dating back to 140-87 B.C. The name is a shortened form of Ruan Xian, a musician and one of the "seven Sages of Bamboo Grove" of the 3rd century (the Six Dynasties). Pictorial evidence, excavated from a tomb of his time in Nanjing, depicting Ruan Xian's performance of this instrument, confirms that its construction was roughly the same as that of today. Later Ruan was once termed as qin pipa (dating to the Qin dynasty between 221-207 BC) or yueqin (moon-shaped short-necked lute). It is a short necked Chinese foiled lute, 4 strings, played by plectrum. It is used by orchestras as well as for accompanying operatic performances. The ruan consists of three parts: resonator, neck and head. On the neck are 24 frets in half steps. Four strings, tuned to fifths (like a mandolin), provide a wide range of notes. It comes in several sizes according to their different ranges. Neat delicate tone. The ruan is now constructed as a family of soprano, alto, tenor and bass, a development intended to increases its range and effectiveness in the modern Chinese orchestra. The alto and the tenor are commonly used. A plectrum is needed in performance. Mellow in tone quality, it is often seen in ensembles or in accompaniments, and as a solo instrument in recent years.