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Chinese Music
Chinese Instruments


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.

Da Bei Dui (4.30)
A popular tune in Northern Shaanxi Province, featuring Suona, drums, and other local instruments.



Yi Zhi Hua (6.01)
A flower



He 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



Shan 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 entire village.

Recommended if this is your first Suona experience.



Sai Long Duo Biao (3.51)
Winning the champion in the dragon boat competition. This is a Chinese thingymagig akin to the Oxbridge boat race.



Da Zao (2.59)
Harvesting the date fruits. Some incredible sounds on this track, although we are not sure this is popular music for the uninitiated?



Play All Above



Suona: History and General Information
Image: Suona
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" diameter trumpet.

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.
Information extracts and image reproduced from Wikipedia under 'Collective Commons License'
Further Information

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.

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.

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