Types Of Music In China

Chinese music has a long history and there are different types of music in china. Artifacts and documents provide evidence that show that Chinese music has been properly developed during the Zhou Dynasty. Presently, their music is still filled with the rich traditional heritage as it emerges into more modern forms.

The traditional types of music in china is usually played in small assembles of instruments such as drums, gongs, cymbals, flutes, and stringed instruments. Qin and bamboo pipes are some of the oldest forms of musical instruments and they are further divided in several categories based depending on the composition of their materials: stone, metal, clay, silk, wood, bamboo, gourd, and animal skin. The orchestras in China are mainly based on percussion, plucked strings, woodwinds, and bowed strings.

The following are the major types of music in china

Vocal music

These types of music in china developed primarily from sung verses and poems and are melodic instead of harmonic. Those instrumental songs that are usually played on dizi or erhu are very common, and are even played outside China.

Ethnic Han music

The Han population makes up to 90% of the entire Chinese population. The Han music is basically a heterophonic type of music where the musicians play single melodic lines, and percussion is predominantly used in these types of music in china. There are different meanings attached to the ethnic Han music and they can be determined based on their tonality and feelings.

This music genre share a close relationship with the Chinese language as it slides from a higher tone to a lower tone, or from lower to higher. Apart from the Han ethnic group, there are other ethnic groups in China, including Lisu, Yi, Miao, Naxi, Dai, Zhuang, Manchus, Uyghus, and Tibetans.

Chinese opera

These types of music in china have been in existence for centuries, particularly Beijing opera. They are particularly and are accompanied by percussions, jinghu, suona, and several other string instruments. Apart from the Beijing opera, there are several other kinds of opera including Huangmei Xi, ritual masked opera, Qinqiang, Sichuan opera, Puppet opera, Cantonese opera, Pingju, clapper opera.

Folk music

This is also one of the oldest types of music in china. Archeological findings show that Chinese folk music was practiced as early as the 15th century. The type of folk music in China is largely different from what is obtainable in western cultures owing to their form of expression. ‘Beautiful Jasmine’ (Mo Li Hua) is the most popular Chinese folk songs.

Rock and heavy metal

Cui Jian is regarded as the forefather of rock music in China. His 1980 rock song known as ‘Yi wu sou you’ (‘Nothing to My Name’) was revolutionary as he was the first person to use electric guitar in China. He was critical of the government and most of his concerts were subsequently cancelled or banned.


Guangxi is a form of music which originated from the Guangxi region in China. Sister Liu is the most popular musician from this region. This form of music uses a traditional instrument known as duxiagin and a single string instrument.