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Chinese Music
Chinese Instruments


The xun is one of the oldest musical instruments in China, with a history of approximately 7,000 years. Whilst there are many types of Xun (Stone, bone, ceramic, earthenware, wood, bamboo, lacquer and others; the Xun has two main categories: Stone/ceramic and bamboo / lacquer.

Whilst the uninitiated may think this quite a weird instrument, it is very popular in China and is often incorporated into modern musical compositions. This is because of its deep and mellow sound, which is likened to the human voice.

Below are some introductory pieces of music - so go judge for yourselves!


Zhui Meng (5.25) - Pursuing Dreams



Meng Jiangnu (8.22) - A girl named Meng Jiangnu - properly a girl named Jiang Nu



Xiao Peng Chuan (5.36) - A boat with small ceiling



The day I lost my love (4.50) - Xun is concerted with cello in this tune.



Chu Ge (5.36) - Song of the Chu State (in today's Sichuan Province)



Ni Shang (4.05) - A famous tune from the Tang Dynasty



Play All Above



Xun: History and General Information
Image: Xun
It is said that the xun originated from the hunting tool of the stone meteor. During ancient times, people often tied a stone or mud ball to the rope that was used for hunting wild animals. The people would then throw the ropes, with the stones wrapping around the animal's limbs, bringing them down, Hence the name of stone meteor. Some of the balls were hollow, and so made many sounds when thrown. Most people found these hollow balls enjoyable and learned how to blow air into them. Gradually, the stone meteor became the musical instrument known as the xun.
The earliest xun was made of stone or bones, but later it became earthen. Also, the forms varied in many ways. For example, it could be shaped like a ball, a pear, a fish, or a flat circle or ellipse.

The xun is an egg-shaped, windpipe instrument. Initially it had only one hole, but afterwards it gained more holes. Finally at the end of the 3 century BC a six-holed model appeared.

Professor Caozheng from the Chinese Conservatory of Music has been trying to imitate the ancient earthen xun since the end of the 1930s .

Later, Professor Chenzhong at the Tianjin Conservatory of Music created a new version with nine holes. The new instrument not only has kept the original form and tones, but also has expanded its range and become louder. The nine holes are arranged in a free order, which is convenient for performing. Very soon, Zhao Liangshan, one of the professor's students from the Song and Dance Ensemble of Hubei Province, developed another new type with ten holes, which was suitable for alt (high octave) performances.

The xun instrument was usually used in making royal music in Chinese history. There are two kinds of xun. One is shaped like an egg (smaller but louder) and the other is often played along with another kind of pipe instrument called a chi, an ancient Chinese musical instrument that is made of bamboo. Some descriptions about the xun can be found in shijing, the earliest form of poetry in China.
Xun Myth and Legend
"There's a legend about Xun. Long time ago, there was a young man who had a fervent interest in Xun, and a beautiful lady named Huanghe (also the name for the Yellow River) heard his music and fell in love with him. But her father didn't like him because he was too poor. The young fellow missed the lady so much that he died of illness. His heart turned into a red diamond after his death. A craftsman passing by picked up the diamond and took it to the market for sale. The lady liked it very much and bought it. One day, the lady thought of the fellow when she was looking at the diamond and burst into tears. To her surprise, the heart broke into pieces when the tears fell upon it. So an old saying came into being -- The heart never dies until it sees Huanghe."

Above Courtesy:
Image: Wooden Ox Xun - Click to Enlarge

Check out some of the Xun tunes here. This interesting website has great resources for Xun:
The whole website is only in Chinese language, so you may need to click around a bit and use your initiative : -)

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As far as we are aware, all information and downloads are either reproduced here with expressed permission, or obtained from reliable free resources, and comply with International Property Rights.

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