What are the most famous traditional Asian instruments?
The erhu will probably be the traditional instrument that you’ll be most likely to see in a trip to China. You might see it played non-professionally for entertainment in public parks, and it is also played by street musicians.
Pronounced èrhú (urrh-hoo) in Mandarin, it is a two-string, violin-like instrument that is played with a bow like a violin bow. It isn’t as loud a violin because the soundbox is small. Erhus generally retain the traditional tuning system, so they may sound odd to Western ears. It allows for a high degree of virtuosity, covers three octaves, and can be made to imitate the sound of Chinese singing and birds and horses. It produces a melancholic sound.
One of the most popular traditional Japanese wind instruments is the shakuhachi. Better known as the Japanese flute, this instrument has been used by Zen Buddhists as a spiritual tool for meditation practices known as ‘suizen’ (吹禅).
Held vertically, the shakuhachi has four holes on the front and one on the back and is traditionally made of bamboo.
Used for meditative purposes, shakuhachi music was originally used for personal spiritual enlightenment rather than public performance.
The koto (箏) is a Japanese plucked half-tube zither and the national instrument of Japan. It is derived from the Chinese zheng and se, and similar to the Mongolian yatga, the Korean gayageum and ajaeng, the Vietnamese đàn tranh, the Sundanese kacapi, and the Kazakhstan jetigen.
The music made from the koto is said to be romantic. Notable koto artists include Yatsuhashi Kengyo, Tadao Sawai, and Kazue Sawai.
Pronounced gǔzhēng (goo-jung) in Mandarin, it is a large 18–23-or-more stringed instrument. It is said that it is an ancestor of the Japanese koto.
It isn’t commonly played in parks or on the streets. It is meant for Chinese opera and concert performances, and it is often played in traditional music ensembles. It is usually played by female musicians. Unlike Japanese koto players who kneel on the floor, Chinese musicians sit in chairs in front of guzheng desks.
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Genre: Electronic Music, Chillout Music, Chillout
Style: Chillout, Downtempo
Mood: Inspiring, Calm, Smooth, Peaceful
Duration: One Hour
Feature: Without Lyrics
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