Traditional Music: China

An important aspect of art is sound. A creation of melodies, rhythms and tunes that are combined together to express creativity in terms of sound. Taking a look into the Chinese music front, there are many instruments used in traditional Chinese music. The most popular instruments in today’s time are the stringed instruments that even though have originated from foreign region, have been modified to the Chinese culture. To bring light to this topic, Chinese stringed instruments like Erhu, Dizi, Pipa and Guzheng will be in the spotlight.


When talking about the Erhu that is pronounced as Urrh-hoo it is of the most commonly used stringed instrument in China that is both inexpensive and portable. It is played non-professionally in public parks or played by the street musicians. It is quite popular now in Chinese opera performances and traditional orchestras as well as can be performed as a solo instrument.

To describe the Erhu, it could be a similar to a violin with two strings with a violin-like bow. It is not as loud as the violin since the sound box is small. The sound box in particular, traditionally has a snakeskin cover but now is made with modern materials to cater to the modern times. The instrument retains a traditional tuning system that may sound odd to the unaccustomed ear. It usually is used for imitating Chinese singing and birds and horses that produces a melancholy sound.


Pronounced as Dee-dz and made from bamboo, this particular instrument compromises of a flute with six or more finger holes where one hole is covered with paper so that the flute has a peculiar buzzing sound that people tend to like. There are several kinds such as Qudi and Bangdi depending on the length. The longer ones like the Changdi allow for deeper sounds. This instrument is used for theatrical performance and can be observed to be played in cities or in the countryside for fun.


This four stringed Chinese musical instrument pronounced as Pee-pah is pear shaped with a wooden body that has frets like those on a guitar. Modern pipas have been redesigned to fit better with the western music style. They use steel strings now due to which musicians wear special finger plectra. It sounds like a banjo that may have originated in the western or southern part of Asia but it became a popular in Chengdu -capital of Tang Empire during 618–907. The paintings and artwork from this era depict pipa being used played by the musicians in flowing robes. Where modern times are concerned. This instrument is played on stage as well as special parties and restaurants.


In Mandarin pronounced as Goo-jung is a large of 18–23 or more stringed instrument which is said to be the ancestor of the Japanese Koto. This specific instrument is not commonly played in parks or streets rather it is meant for Chinese opera, traditional music ensembles and concert performances that is usually played by female musicians.

In contrast to the Japanese Koto, the Chinese musicians sit in chairs in front of the guzheng desks and is played as a solo instrument by pinching the strings to play heptatonic notes and chords.