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Chinese Music
Chinese Musical Instruments - Drums and Percussion
Drums and cymbals feature highly in traditional Chinese music. This page highlights the main ones used in Chinese Opera, plus a selection of others used in ethnic, religious, and Buddhist ceremonies

Our main information resource remains the very reliable Wikipedia:
which is complimented by many others, as referenced below

For ease of reference we have divided Chinese instruments into four main categories:
• Strings
  • Bowed and 2-stringed
  • Other Strings, Lutes and Zithers
• Percussion (This Page)
Other Instruments

Free music samples and downloads Comply with International Copyright criteria, and respect International Property Rights.

Note: Spelling
Most Chinese instruments are written as two Chinese characters (Mandarin). Pinyin is a standard way to write these characters in English. The Chinese would write these as one English word in lower case. Westerners tend to Capitalise the words. Other Western spellings sometimes exist, especially changing 'qin' to 'ching' etc. We use the standard letters as approved by Beijing, and generally Capitalised the first letters of both Chinese words (For correct syntax)


Instrument Brief Description Listen
Image: Bangu Drum - Click for  larger image and more details BanGu or large drum. The one pictured is unusual in that it is a long drum. Normally a shorter drum is mounted instead. This is very pretty though

The percussion section is very important in Chinese Opera. Battle or ‘martial’ scenes are called wu-chang. The bangu player is the director or conductor of the orchestra. He works with the other members of the percussion section to create the right mood for the audience and actors on stage.

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Image: BianZhong - Click for  larger image and more details BianZhong Chimes

Chime bells, or bianzhong, were an important percussion instrument in ancient China. Chime bells are divided into one or more groups in which there are dozens of big and small bells, each with a different tone. Although the forms of the bells are different, as they developed in different years, there are fine designs on all of them.

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Image: Dhyangro - Click for  larger image and more details Large ceremonial wooden hand held ritual drum, used by Tibetan Buddhist monks. Carved long p'hurba like handle has three stylised faces, ending in pointed end carved with entwined snakes.
Double leather drum heads and rattan binding. Ball inside makes a counterpoint of rhythm.

26" H x 14" diameter x 5" D. Weighs 1.5 lb.

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Image: TangGu Chinese Drum - Click for  larger image and more details Barrel shaped tanggu Chinese drum, brilliant vermilion lacquer relief bird and lion decoration, suspended by rings on a stand, 25.5" H overall x 13.5" diameter. Entwined dragons on the drum head. Stand is black. Picture includes the beaters. Weight 10 pounds.

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Image: YaoGu Chinese Drum - Click for  larger image and more details The YaoGu is big in the middle and small at the two ends, shaped like a canister. The two ends are covered with cow skin or the skin of a mule. There are two rings on the surface of the drum, tied with a rope to fix up the drum. There are four yaogu specifications, but none with fixed tones. They sound clear, and are often used to perform accompaniments for folk dancing.

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China Expats are very happy to hear from anyone who can provide appropriate Audio and Video, or any music that is more suited for 'Western Ears'. Thank you

This information is as supplied by ourselves, and ably supported by our friends:


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.

Please contact us 'Now' if you think there is a problem, and we will rectify the situation immediately

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