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Naxi ancient music ensemble introduction

Bai Sha Xi music ensemble was consisted of farmers who were interested in music. They usually stayed at home farming, and only played Bai Sha Xi music at funerals. There was no uniformed costumes, and the size of the ensemble ranged from 4 to 10 people. 

Dong Jing music ensemble was more "prestigious". Only government officials, literati, and rich musicians could join the ensemble. Dong Jing music ensemble had different roles, including president, ShanZhang(the conductor), vice ShanZhang, etc. 

Video editor/ interviewer| Ziyue Yang

 Musician| Zemin Yang

2020 June

Percussion Instruments

Shimian Yunluo (percussion)

Chinese Ten Gong Chimes

Ten- pitch Gong

made by Dayan Naxi ancient music ensemble


Shimian Yunluo (lit.ten pitch Gong) can also called as nine pitch gong (because the top gong is not frequently being used). The earliest historical record of this instrument is in The History of Yuan Dynasty: Ritual and Music: "Shimian Yunluo is made of copper. It has 10 small gongs, placed on the same wooden framework. Musician uses left hand to hold the instrument and strikes the gong using the mallet in the right hand." 

Musician| Zemin Yang

2020 June

note: In this video, the instrument is handmade, so it is not perfectly tuned but off by one semitone.

However, in Lijiang, Shimian Yunluo has 10 gongs instead, and the pitches are G, A, C, D, E, F#, which is from Ya heptatonic scale(七声雅乐音阶) in Ancient China music. However, in Naxi ancient music, particularly Dongjing music, F# is played instead of F as in the original Ya heptatonic scale.

Role in ensemble

Shimian Yunluo acts as the "conductor" in an ensemble. The musicians that play the Shimian Yunluo are usually Shan Zhang who can memorize both the scripture and the music. The tempo of the ensemble is controlled by Shan Zhang. Besides, Shan Zhang is also responsible of ringing the Fa bell as the piece move from Sanban (the temporary disregarding of strict tempo to allow an expressive quickening or slackening, usually without altering the overall pace) to ZhengBan where the tempo is no longer being disregarded. 

The other musicians in the ensemble listen to the Shimian Yunluo for both the rhythm and the melody, so the position Shan Zhang is vitally important.


fishknocker back.JPG

Fishknocker back

made by Dayan Naxi ancient music ensemble

fishknocker profile.JPG

Fishknocker profile

fishknocker front.JPG

Fishknocker front 


Ringdrum front.JPG

Ringdrum front

made by Dayan Naxi ancient music ensemble

Ringdrum profile.JPG

Ringdrum profile

Ringdrum back.JPG

Ringdrum back



Bo front and back 

made by Dayan Naxi ancient music ensemble


Video editor/ interviewer| Ziyue Yang

 Musician| Zemin Yang

2020 June

In NaXi language, "Su" means metal, and "Gudu" means walnut. Together "Sugudu" is an instrument made by metal and walnut. According to the legend, Sugudu was brought to LiJiang during Southern Song dynasty by HuBiLie. At first Sugudu was only used for funeral music NaXi BaiShaXi music. Later in the early years of Republic of China, it is slowly played for NaXi DongJing music too. 

Sugudu is an important coloring instrument for both DongJing and BaiShaXi music. Musicians usually play glissando on Sugudu.  

sugudu 背面.JPG

Sugudu back

sugudu 侧面.JPG

Sugudu profile

sugudu 正面.JPG

Sugudu front

made by Mr. ZhaoLin He

Bent neck Pipa 

made by Mr. Zhaolin He

bent neck pipa profile.JPG
bent neck pipa back.JPG

Bent neck pipa profile

Bent neck pipa back

ben neck pipa front.JPG

Bent neck pipa front



San Xian 

三弦 2 profile.JPG

San Xian profile

三弦2 front.JPG

San Xian front

三弦2 back.JPG

made by Dayan Naxi ancient music ensemble

Di Hu


Its neck is made of phyllostachys aurea or wood, the texture is soft, with a dragon head on the top for decoration and snakeskin covered case. 


Dihu profile

made by Dayan Naxi ancient music ensemble

Dihu back

Zhong Hu

made by Dayan Naxi ancient music ensemble

Zhong hu profile

Zhong Hu profile


Zhong Hu

ZhongHu front.JPG

Zhong Hu front

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