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Chinese Orchestra. Ethan Tan Xin Kai(1A408) Low Ming Lim(1A4170 Ong Ji Keong(1A419) Chiah Zi Feng(1A405). Objectives. To raise awareness of the Chinese Orchestra To give a brief introduction of : History of the Chinese Orchestra Types of Chinese Orchestra

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chinese orchestra

Chinese Orchestra

Ethan Tan Xin Kai(1A408)

Low Ming Lim(1A4170

Ong Ji Keong(1A419)

Chiah Zi Feng(1A405)

  • To raise awareness of the Chinese Orchestra
  • To give a brief introduction of :
    • History of the Chinese Orchestra
    • Types of Chinese Orchestra
    • Structure of modern day Chinese Orchestra
rationale of our project
Rationale of our project

This is the survey results:

instrument classification
Instrument Classification


Instruments that create sound by vibrating themselves. E.g. clappers


Instruments such as drums


Stringed Instruments


Wind instruments

shang dynasty
Shang Dynasty
  • Records from oracle bones
  • Instruments then:
    • Hand drums
    • Drums struck by drum-sticks
    • Fultes
    • Sonorous stones
    • bells
han dynasty
Han Dynasty

Start of influx of foreign music and instrutments

Ritual orchestra

Performed Yayue (elegant music)

Instruments of Chinese origin: Bronze bells, stone chimes, zithers, wind instruments

Ceremonial /entertainment orchestra

Court ceremonies and banquets

Performed Yanyue (banquet music)

More instruments of foreign origin

Processional bands

Guchui: Drums and winds

early tang indian orchestra
Early Tang (Indian Orchestra)
  • All instruments of foreign origin
  • Increase in stringed instruments, absence of bells and chimes
  • Idiophones
    • Tongbo (brass cymbals)
  • Membranophones (all drums)
    • Qianggu, Maoyungu, Duyungu
  • Chordophones
    • Fenshou konghou (phoenix-headed harp), pipa (lute), wuxian pipa (5-stringed lute)
  • Aerophones
    • bili (oboe), hengdi (transverse flute) bei (shell)
tang dynasty from painting by zhou wenju
Tang Dynasty (from painting by Zhou Wenju)


Fangxiang (iron chimes),

paiban (clappers)


Dagu (big drum),

*yaogu (hour-glass drum)


*pipa (lute),

zheng (zither),

*konghou (harp)


Sheng (mouth organ),

*bili (oboe),

*di (transverse flute),

xiao (vertical flute)

*= foreign origin at that time

qing dynasty
Qing Dynasty
  • Idiophones
    • Yunlo (brass gongs), *paiban (clappers),
  • Membranophones
  • Chordophones
    • *Zheng (zither), *huqin (fiddle), tiqin (4-stringed fiddle), erxian (2-stringed lute), *pipa (lute), *sanxian (3-stringed lute), yueqin (4-stringed lute), yazheng (bowed zither), huobusi (kobuz)
  • Aerophones
    • *xiao (vertical flute), *di (transverse flute), *sheng (mouth organ), guan (oboe)

* = eventually part of modern chinese orchestra

jiangnan sizhu
Jiangnan Sizhu
  • Idiophones
    • Ban (clappers)
  • Membranophones
    • Diengu (drum)
  • Chordophones
    • Erhu (fiddle), pipa (lute), xiao sanxian (small 3-stringed lute), yangqin (hammered dulcimer)
  • Aerophones
    • Di (transverse flute), xiao (vertical flute), sheng (mouth organ)
western influences
Western Influences

In the late 19th and early 20th Century, after repeated Western and Japanese humiliation in various events such as the Opium War, the education system was reformed and modeled after Japan and the West. Those who were determined to save the nation concluded that traditional Chinese culture was the chief obstacle to China achieving strength and prosperity.

Traditional music was taught alongside western music but many more youths were attracted by the new (Western) style of music.

  • The changes to the Chinese orchestra involved having:
    • A large musical organization
    • Western polyphony
    • A conductor
    • Sight-reading
modern chinese orchestra
Modern Chinese Orchestra









It has a rich history

Can learn about China’s history