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date: 06 December 2019


  • Alan R. Thrasher


Wooden idiophone of the Han Chinese. Ban (‘flat board’) and the onomatopoeic bang are generic terms denoting time-beaters of several types: the woodblocks nanbangzi and Muyu; bangzi concussion bars; concussion plaques, sibao, which are shaken; and the widespread clapper paiban. Audible time-beating in Chinese music dates back to the du (cited in the Confucian text Zhouli, from about the 3rd century bce), a long hollow staff of bamboo held vertically and struck against the floor in ritual music. The Korean tok was derived from this idiophone. Other examples of bamboo tubes, wooden bars, and pieces of metal struck together for signalling purposes have had local importance only.

The idiophones employed in traditional performance mostly emerged between the 17th and 19th centuries. In North China, concussion bars known as bangzi (also bangban) consist of two hardwood bars of different length, thickness and shape: a short rectangular bar with rounded edges (about 20 cm long, 6 cm wide, and 4 cm thick) and a longer rounded bar with a slight conical profile (about 25 cm long, end diameters about 2.3 and 2.8 cm). These bars mark beats in Hebei ...

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