Music in Ancient China Illustration


Ancient China for Kids

Archaeologists unearthed a flute in China that is about 8,000 years old. Music has always been a part of the ancient Chinese culture. Music in ancient China was used for pleasure, religious ceremonies, announcements, dance, entertainment, and to match or blend with the sounds of nature.

The ancient Chinese were the first to divide instruments into groups. They divided them into eight categories, sorted by the material with which an instrument was made. The categories were silk, bamboo, hide, clay, gourd, metal, stone, and wood. These 8 categories are still in use today in China.

Silk instruments are mostly string instruments because the ancient Chinese used silk to make strings. Bamboo is used to make many of the woodwind instruments. Metal was used to make bells, gongs, and chimes. Stone and clay instruments are also used to make chimes. Hide instruments are mostly drums including hand held rattle drums. Wood instruments were mostly used in ancient times.

Some of the instruments were very different from any other culture's. One very long flute-like instrument has a bell at the end. Other flute-like instrument has a wind chime hanging from it. Other instruments have two strings, some three strings, some four strings. An luo is a mounted gong with a padded stick that you use to hit the gong in various places, with varied strength, to get various sounds. Chinese instruments produce a unique sound.  

Listen to Chinese Traditional Music

Some Chinese Musical Instruments

The Arts of Ancient China