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General information

In China, music instruments are classified according to the material, not according to the generated sound or the construction method like in the West. Traditionally, there exist eight different types of instruments. Already during the late Warring States period, but especially during Han Dynasty, the theory of the Five Phases or Elements (wuxing 五行) and correlation of beings and appearances was very popular. The correlation also includes music instruments. Bamboo flutes are used when the spring begine, summer is the time of string instruments (silk), bronze bells are the instruments of the autumn, and in wintertime, drums are sounding.

In the West, stone instruments are unknown. Sounding stones qing 磬, pending from a rack and each stone with a different tone, are a native Chinese invention (the whole rack is called bianqing 編磬). The stones have a special shape, best described as rectangular and bend short before the middle, in a sharp angle, but not up to 90 degrees like the letter "L". The stones are hung up at the tip of the angle.

Instruments within the family of Stone instruments

Bianqing, Sounding stone

Further information


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