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Chinese Instrument – Chinese Drum

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ancestors as a cheer for the army very early. According to legend, in the battle of Zhuolu where the Huangdi conquered Chiyou, “the Huangdi killed Kui, using his skin like a drum, and heard five hundred” (” Taiping Yulan ” volume 582 cited ” Emperor Century “).

The war drums of ancient times were all made of crocodile skin, and the crocodile skin was used for the drum skin, which is based on the ferocious habits of crocodile to strengthen the drum sound. In the Zhou Dynasty, according to the “Zhou Li·Diguan Situ”, ” drum people ” had been specially set up to manage drumming and drumming. Drummer manage drums for various purposes, such as thunder drums for sacrifices, spirit drums, and jin drums in bands. Among them, the “Fen (sound) drum” especially used for military affairs is called the “Fen (sound) drum”. According to the explanation of “Shuowen”, this is a large drum with a length of 8 feet, a drum surface of 4 feet, and leather on both sides. In addition, road drums, jin drums, etc. were also used in the military. These drums were later developed into war drums of various specifications and were widely used in the military.


In ancient times, the drum was enshrined as a Babel artifact, mainly as a sacrificial utensil. In hunting activities, drums are widely used. The drum as a musical instrument began in the Zhou Dynasty. There were eight sounds in the Zhou Dynasty, and the drum was the leader of the group sounds. The so-called “drum and rinse” in ancient literature means that there is drum sound as a guide before the wine is played. The cultural connotation of the drum is broad and profound, and the majestic drum sound closely accompanies human beings, and the ancient barbarians move towards civilization step by step. Customs can be folk gongs and drums, and Ya can enter temples and palace banquets. From the original pottery drums, earthen drums, leather drums, and bronze drums, to a wide range of modern drums, the drum is one of the most popular and widely used musical instruments. The idea that the earliest drum should be used by the ancient ancestors, pottery, ceramic pots, and other utensils that life evolved, unearthed pottery drum proved, dating back seven thousand years ago in the early Neolithic to The manufacture of pottery drums has already begun. Pottery drums, also known as earth drums, are made of pottery clay into a drum frame and then covered with animal leather. In our country, the tradition of making pottery drums with tiles as the frame has been followed for a long time. Waist drums were popular in the Tang Dynasty. In addition to wooden materials, the waist drums of the Tang Dynasty were also made of ceramics.

The appearance of the drum was relatively early. Judging from the unearthed cultural relics found today, it can be determined that the drum has a history of more than 5,000 years (take the pottery drum unearthed at the Dadiwan site in Qin’an, Gansu Province as an example). In ancient times, drums were not only used for sacrifices, music, and dance, but also used to strike enemies, drive away beasts, and were a tool for reporting the time and calling the police. With the development of society, the scope of application of drums has become more extensive. Drum instruments are inseparable from folk bands, various dramas, folk art, song and dance, boat racing, lion dance, festive rallies, labor competitions, etc. The structure of the drum is relatively simple. It is composed of two parts: a drum head and a drum body. A drum head is the sound body of a drum. It is usually made by covering the frame of the drum with animal leather and making it vibrate after being struck or tapped. There are many kinds of drum instruments in China, including waist drum, big drum, same drum, flowerpot drum, and so on.


Waist drum: According to legend, it evolved from the Jie drum and became popular in the fourth century. The waist drum in the Tang Dynasty was called “zheng drum” or “he drums” because of its different roles in the performance. Since the Ming Dynasty, waist drums have been used in “Fengyang Huagu”, “Huagu Lantern” and Huaibei “Huagu Opera”, and gradually evolved into modern forms.

The waist drum is shaped like a cylinder, the ends are slightly thinner, the middle is slightly thicker, and the two ends are covered with skin. The drum body has two iron rings. It is hung from the waist with a belt and beats with a mallet in each hand. The waist drum has no fixed pitch and clear sound. It can be used as a dancing instrument or as a dance prop to express lively and lively scenes. It is the main instrument of the waist drum team.

Wolf Tent: also known as ” two stick drums “. Popular in the Fuzhou area. The wolf stick is derived from ancient slender drum instruments. The drum body is made of wood, with a total length of about 70 cm, a small middle part, thick and hollow at both ends, two sides of cowhide or python skin, the drum surface is about 30 cm in diameter, and the drum skin is mounted on a metal ring and is tightened by a rope. It is one of the main musical instruments of “Fuzhou Shifan” and is also used to accompany the Min opera.

Fishing drum: The fishing drum is also called ” bamboo qin ” or “dao tube”. This kind of musical instrument existed in the Southern Song Dynasty. The fishing drum used in modern times is made of a bamboo tube with a length of 65-100 cm and a diameter of about 13 cm. One end is covered with pigskin or sheepskin. When playing, the fishing drum is held firmly with the left hand and slapped with the right. “Fishing Drum” and “Bamboo Qin” are the main accompaniment instruments.

Tonggu: A larger drum instrument that is popular among folks. A kind of dignity. Widely popular in southern Jiangsu. The drum body of the same drum is barrel-shaped, slightly wider in the middle, and the drum is about 60 cm high. It is mostly made of wood, colored wood, birch, or poplar wood. Both sides are covered with cowhide, and the diameter of the drum surface is about 50 cm. There are 3 drum rings in the middle of the drum body for wearing drum belts or hanging.

When playing, the same drum is hung on a wooden tripod, and it is made of mahogany or other hardwoods to strike. It is used for folk instrumental ensemble, dance, opera accompaniment, and mass gongs and drum teams in festive festivals. When the gongs and drums are marching, they can be tied and hung on the body to play. There are techniques such as singles, doubles, rolling, and smothering. Strike the center, rim, and frame of the drum, from the center of the drum to the side of the drum, or from the side of the drum to the center of the drum, to achieve different timbre changes.

In the instrumental ensemble “Shifangu” and “Shifan Gonggu”, the same drum and the plate drum are played by the same person. The drumming technique is particularly complicated, using light and heavy hits, light and heavy rolls, continuous rolls or an interactive combination of multiple playing methods It can be used to play different styles of drums (or “drum brand”).

Flower Pot Drum: It is named because of the big drum surface, small drum bottom, and the shape of a flowerpot. It evolved from Tanggu and is also called “South Tanggu.” Because it resembles a cylinder, it is also called a “cylinder drum”. It has been widely used in various local dramas such as Peking Opera, singing and dancing accompaniment, instrumental ensemble, and solo.

The height of the flowerpot drum is 60 cm, and the diameter of the top is 57 cm. The lower skin of the drum is twice as small as the upper skin, with a diameter of 28.5 cm. Around the drum, the body is painted a golden cloud dragon pattern in ethnic style, which resembles a Visha, which is lifelike. It also comes with a special drum stand. The drum body is mostly made of wood, poplar, or willow, and it is made by spinning. Drum skins are buffalo skins or upland skins, but the upper drum skins are better with cow spine skins. When playing the flowerpot drum, it is pronounced by hitting the upper drum with a wooden claw. The sound is deep and strong, softer than the upper drum, and can be played in different tones.

Drums in the lobby: among the drum instruments, the larger ones are mostly made of wood, colored wood, birch, and poplar. Due to the large drum surface, buffalo leather is mostly used for the drum skin. The drum body is covered with two pieces of cowhide of the same area, usually placed on a wooden stand and played with two drums. The bass drum has a deep and strong pronunciation, mainly used for instrumental ensemble, dance, and opera accompaniment, and is also the main instrument in the gong and drum team.

In ancient times, drums were mostly used for telling the time, sacrificing ceremonies, or military. The big drum used to tell the time is also known as the ” Morning Drum”, which is often placed on the drum tower in the city. The drum on the Gulou in Beijing was made in the Qing Dynasty and was used for public timekeeping. The drum head has a diameter of 1.5 meters and was once known as the “King of Drums”. When the hour and minute are reported at night, the bells and drums sound on the Bell and Drum Tower, and the low drum sounds spread throughout the city. It was not a cultural relic for people to watch until 1915 when the clock was widely used. In the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, there is also a large drum made in the Qing Dynasty. It has a diameter of 1.5 meters and a height of about 2 meters. It was used by the emperor to worship the sky in the past.

The bass drum is pronounced by the percussion of two thicker wooden claws. The center of the drum has a lower and deeper sound, and the sound is higher and firmer toward the edge. Since the timbre of each circle from the center to the edge is different, these changes can be used to enrich its expressive power when playing. The performance methods include single-click, double-click, punch, muffle, press, shake, and roll. The bass drum has a large head, the volume can vary from very weak to strong, and the dynamics vary greatly. The rendering of emotions and atmosphere can play a big role. The sound can be integrated with the band to enhance the bass of the band. It can also be used solo or as an effective instrument to imitate thunder and cannon sounds.

Book Drum: The body of the drum is flat and round, with skin on both sides, the diameter of the drum is 22 cm, and the height of the drum is 8.5 cm. The pronunciation is lower than that of the tang drum, but it is very loud. It is dedicated to various drum book accompaniment such as the northern rap music “Big Drum Book”. It is also suitable for folk art singing and drum book accompaniment everywhere. Playing with a single arrow, the book drum is placed on the braided rope of a bamboo drum stand, the height of which is about 90 cm, the rap actor holds the book board or pear flower piece in his left hand, and the right-hand holds the drum and arrow to beat the table

Tap the drum: also known as “drumming”. It was popular in southern Jiangsu at the beginning of the 16th century. It is oblate. The drum frame is made of hardwood such as colored wood. The middle is slightly high and the edges are gradually lowered. The diameter of the drum cavity is about 18 cm. The two sides are covered with cowhide and tightly tightened with dense drum nails. The drum is made of mahogany or bamboo and is called a lottery.

When playing, the player puts one side of the drum upright on the right knee, the drum side is facing forward, and the right wrist presses the upper edge of the drum to fix it while using the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and ring finger of the right hand to beat the drum. hit. The left-hand holds the board hitting the knot. It is used for the instrumental ensemble of “Shifangu” or the accompaniment of Kunqu a cappella. Generally, it is beaten per beat to control the rhythm.

War drum: The shape is similar to the big drum, but the drum body is low, so it is also called “flat drum”. The pronunciation is lower than the drumbeat but very loud. It was used for religious music in the past. In the Lama Temple in Beijing, established in 1723, there is a flat drum with a diameter of about 1 meter and a height of only 20 cm. Now it is mainly used for folk instrumental ensemble, dance, lantern festival, acrobatic troupe, and gong, and drum team.

Bangu: It is often named after being played by one person with the clapper. It is also known as “single skin” (one-sided skin) and “bang” (for troupes in the past). It is a conducting instrument in Chinese opera orchestras. As early as the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907) had a “clear music in”, then known as the “drums festival.”

The plate drum has a unique structure and a crisp sound. With the development of Ming and Qing opera art. Yan will be from generation to generation, spread so far, is widely used in opera, Peking Opera, Peking Opera, Shaoxing Opera, Han Opera, Opera, Hebei Clapper, Shandong clapper, clapper, Shaanxi, Shandong and other places Ryuko opera accompaniment and instrumental ensemble, you can solo (such as Sunan percussion Allegro in China). It often takes the position of conductor and leader in accompaniment or ensemble. In Peking Opera music, where the characters appear on the stage, the role sings, and the plot changes, in addition to directing with various percussive postures and various percussive sounds, they also beat the singing rhythm together with the clappers, add spice to the gongs and drums, and enhance the stage atmosphere And character image.

Bangu is a small single-sided drum. The body is made of hardwood such as colored wood, birch, locust wood, mulberry, beech or teak. It is made up of 5 thicker wooden boards. The diameter of the drum is 25 cm. Most of them are wooden boards. The drum surface with vibrating sound in the middle is only 5-10 cm. The cavity is eight-shaped, and the side of the drum is 9.5 cm high. The drum skin is made of cowhide, tension on the entire board until the bottom edge. The shell part of the skin is also called “drum light”, which is the sounding part of the percussion. The pronunciation of the bang depends on the size of the barrel and the tightness of the skin. In order to maintain the tension of the drum skin, a lot of nails are used, and an iron ring is hooped at the bottom.

Due to the different types of dramas applicable to Bangu, the specifications are divided into big drum chamber, middle drum chamber and small drum chamber. The small-bore plate drum has a bore diameter of only 5 cm, a height of 11.5 cm in the middle of the drum, and a diameter of 23.5 cm in the lower mouth of the drum. The pronunciation is high-pitched and crisp. It is mainly used for Peking Opera and other local opera accompaniment and instrumental ensemble. It has a wide range of applications. . The large-bore plate drum has a bore diameter of 10 cm, a height of 11 cm in the middle of the drum, and a diameter of 24.5 cm in the bottom of the drum. The sound is wide and bright and thick. It is suitable for southern juban drums and can be played solo. The middle chamber drum has a bore diameter of 8 cm, the middle of the drum is 11.2 cm high, and the lower mouth is 24 cm in diameter. The pronunciation is between the large and small chamber drums. It is mostly used for local opera accompaniment in Yue Opera, Northern Shaanxi, and Shanxi, And used in an instrumental ensemble.

When playing Bangu, hang the drum on a wooden frame and strike with two rattan or bamboo drums. Not only does the center and rim of the drum sound differently, but also because of the use of arrows (click on the surface of the drum with arrows) ) Or full arrow (to flatten the face of the drum with arrows), the sound is also different.

Pai Drum: A new variety of drum instruments in my country. After the liberation, Chinese instrument workers and musicians summarized the technical experience of drum instruments at home and abroad, and were reformed based on the medium-sized court drums and waist drums commonly used by the people. They are beautiful in shape and rich in sound. It has a national style and has become an important instrument in national bands, widely used in the instrumental ensemble, local opera and singing, and dancing accompaniment. The “drum set” that is often seen in some dance halls is the row drum.

A row drum is generally composed of 5 drums of different sizes and different pronunciations. The two sides of each drum have the same outer diameter but different inner diameters and can emit two sounds with different pitches, for a total of 10 different sounds. Both sides of the drum are equipped with tuning equipment, and the tuning range is generally up to four degrees or five degrees, and the tuning can be adjusted according to actual needs. The drum body is fixed on a special drum stand, the upper end of the drum stand is a U-shaped fork stand, the middle is a column made of a sleeve, and the lower end is a tripod. The column can be stretched up and down so that the drum body can be raised and lowered according to the needs of the performer. The drum body is installed on the fork frame for easy turning and pitch selection. When playing, the drums are mostly placed in a straight, eight-shaped, semi-circular, or arc shape. The drum head can be tilted 15 to 45 degrees and can be used for standing, sitting, side, or oblique, as well as slap, round, and cross.

The drums are pronounced fiercely and vigorously, the bass and bass are broad and majestic, and the treble is solid and powerful, which not only maintains the style of the drum but also has the characteristics of mellow and lyrical. Because of its different pitches, timbres, and changes in severity, it is most suitable for large-scale ethnic bands and drum solos. It is a colorful instrument. In addition to being used in groups, it can also be used in local opera and instrumental ensembles by selecting its timbre and performance according to different needs. It is good at expressing warm and joyous emotions and has rich and colorful sound effects.

Qin Drum: A fishing drum that can play the melody. It is made by the amateur development team of Chengdu ethnic bamboo wind instrument, inspired by the accompaniment of the Sichuan folk art “Bamboo Qin”. It is composed of 16 bamboo tubes (or plastic slips) of different lengths, and each bamboo tube is covered with cowhide. Or sheepskin, fastened to the upper mouth of the bamboo tube by a bamboo solid leather ring. The bamboo tubes are placed in two rows on the wooden piano frame. During the performance, the player holds a bamboo piano arrow in each hand and produces 16 notes (D~f1). The tone is soft, clear, and bright. It can be used for instrumental ensemble or accompaniment, or it can be used to play music alone.

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