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date: 20 January 2020


  • Alan R. Thrasher


Single-headed block drum of the Han Chinese. Ban here refers to the concept of ‘beat’; gu means ‘drum’. Other common names include danpigu (‘single-skin drum’) and xiaogu (‘small drum’). The thick body, about 25 cm in diameter and 10 cm deep, is constructed from wedges of hardwood glued together in a circle (or sometimes carved from a single block) and wrapped at the bottom with a metal band. The body is open at the bottom, and the interior tapers inward to the top, leaving a central circular opening (about 5 cm in diameter) called the guxin (‘drum heart’). This is covered with a piece of thick rigid pigskin or cowhide nailed in several rows around the outside of the body. The drum is supported in a three-legged stand in front of the player and struck on the guxin with one or two slender bamboo sticks. The tone quality is crisp, and the pitch is moderately high....

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