The Chinese Suona, often called
laba (trumpet), first appeared in the Wei and
Jin period (220-420). It has a penetrating tone
quality, The suona has a passionate and lively
sound, and is particularly good at imitating the
singing of hundreds of birds.
We now list a selection of tunes for you to listen
too, whilst further information about the Suona
can be found further down the page.
Bei Dui (4.30)
A popular tune in Northern Shaanxi
Province, featuring Suona, drums,
and other local instruments.
Zhi Hua (6.01)
Bei Bang Zi (3.44)
Bang zi opera tune from Hebei Province
This track is a very good introduction
to the versatility and flexability
of this most curious instrument
Cun Lai Le Shou Huo Yuan (3.39)
The salesman comes to the mountain
village. Listening to the music
will tell you this salesman stayed
overnight and was the talk of the
Recommended if this is your first
Long Duo Biao (3.51)
Winning the champion in the dragon
boat competition. This is a Chinese
thingymagig akin to the Oxbridge
Harvesting the date fruits. Some
incredible sounds on this track,
although we are not sure this is
popular music for the uninitiated?
and General Information
Copper, brass and
wood with coral and turquoise colored pieces on
eight rings section along the body of the instrument.
Pictured left: 23.5" High as shown. 6"
The suona (simplified Chinese: 唢呐; traditional
Chinese: 嗩吶; pinyin: suǒnà); also called laba
(Chinese: 喇叭; pinyin: lǎbā) or haidi (Chinese:
海笛; pinyin: hǎidí) is a Han Chinese shawm (oboe).
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 sheng, gongs,
drums, and sometimes other instruments, in wedding
and funeral processions. Such wind and percussion
ensembles are called chuida or guchui.
The suona is believed to have been developed from
Central Asian instruments such as the sorna, surnay,
or zurna, from which its Chinese name probably
derives. It was originally introduced into China
from central or South 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 (1368–1644), when the suona was already
established in northern China.
This expressive reed instrument
is very popular in China's vast countryside
for funerals, weddings, and other festive occasions.
Meanwhile, it is also an indispensable part
of many local operas in Hebei, Shandong, Liaoning,
Shandong, Shaanxi, Shanxi, and Guangdong provinces.
The Suona has a strong rustic and grass-roots
flavor nowadays, but was originally an imported
instrument from the Middle East as early as
in the Jin dynasty (265-420). As a result of
its high-pitched timbre, Suona is good at depicting
joyous, noisy, and magnificent scenes.
The sounds are reminiscent of an alto-saxephone,
depending upon which version (Length) of the
instrument is played. One track above (Da Bei
Dui) appears to have alto and tenor versions
playing in communal disharmony = celebration.
Personally it reminds me of Grace Slick and
the very original 'White Rabbit', which she
performed live with her brothers (The Great
Society) back in circa '61.
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