The People of China: A History Through Music


China, one of the oldest civilizations in the world, developed one of the earliest musical scales and instruments, including the xun , a globular flute. Chinese orchestral, ensemble, and solo instrumental music continues to dominate the world, particularly because of the unique Eastern approach using a four-stage melodic and harmonic design. These musical instrument principles were fully developed during the age of Confucius, or the Pre-Qin period. Further developments led to artistic musical masterpieces that transitioned into the peak of the Chinese classical music era. The common Chinese classical instruments included: silk for stringed instruments, wood for woodblocks, bamboo for flutes, stone for mallet music production, metal for gongs and bells, gourd for reed-free mouth organs, hide for large drums, and clay for xun prototypes. Chinese opera began its influence during the Tang Dynasty, which later spawned into 300 different musical sub-genres. Over the years, Chinese music evolved into a contemporary form that resembles much of Westernized music. Despite this prolonged influence, Chinese music has maintained its traditional, folk, ceremonial, classical and other musical styles unique to the Eastern world.

Traditional Music:

Folk Music:

Ceremonial Music:

Pre-War Era Before Mao Zedong:

Post-War Era After Mao Zedong:

Music Influenced by The West:

  • Modern Chinese Music: A compilation of modern Chinese singers and the Westernized contemporary music produced out of the mainland.

  • Chinese Music TV: A blog that includes popular Chinese artists and their music videos.

  • Where East Meets West: Contemporary Chinese Music: An extensive article detailing the Eastern contemporary craze primarily influenced by the Western world.

  • Chinese Music: Instruments: A brief explanation of each Chinese musical instrument, including bronze bells, bamboo instruments, wooden blocks, silk or stringed instruments, earthen vessels, metal drums, and stone, leather, gourd instruments.

  • Birth of Beijing Music Scene: The Public Broadcasting System (PBS) presents an article about the transformation of the Beijing musical scene from traditional, classical, and opera-esque music to more contemporary and pop music influenced primarily from the Westernized world. This details pop, rock, and other contemporary singers.