Musical instruments of the Qiang


All the important ceremonies of the Qiang are performed in a festive environment that includes the music of their musical instruments. The most characteristics of them are:

- Drum of goat skin. It belongs to the long tradition of shamanic drums used by the shamans of north Asia in their shamanic voyages. There are many studies that relate the short cerebral waves induced by the drum to the ability to reach altered states of conscience. The Qiang have a tale about the origin of their drum that does not allow any doubt to the enlightened power of their drums. According to this myth, in remote times a goat ate the books that contained all the knowledge of the Qiang. To recover this knowledge they must beat the goat skin in the drum.

The Yao of Fuchuan County have also drums made of wood and goat skin, and a legend to explain the origin of their drums, clearly similar:

"King Pan Gu, creator of the universe, went hunting one day and encountered a group of ferocious wild goats. They killed him and hung his body from a catalpa tree.
Pan Gu's seven sons looked for him for seven days and seven nights. When they found his body they were so angry that they cut down the tree and pursued the goats until they killed them all. From the tree and the goatskins they made long drums, and used them in a dance to celebrate de avenging of their father's death. Yao villagers still celebrate King Pan Gu every July as their New Year." (1)

- Qiang flute. There are historical registers showing that the flutes of the old Qiang (possible ancestors of today Qiang) were famous in China 2,000 years ago.
Now the flutes are made with a special mountain bamboo, with two pipes and six holes in every pipe. They are usually played by a single player who must have a slow learning to master its different sounds. It is played in festive ways, accompanying work songs, love songs and welcome songs.

Harmonica.- It is made of leather or bamboo, it is used mainly for the young in their romantic songs contests.

Suona.- a kind of Chinese traditional trumpet. Widely utilized in weddings and traditional festivals for the happy sounds it produces.

Gong.- A metal musical instrument widely used in most of Asia.

Cymbals.- A "Percussion instrument consisting of a circular metal plate that is struck with a drumstick or two such plates that are struck together." (Britannica Concise Encyclopedia)

Qiang nationality likes the sound of the bells. The three kinds of bells more widely used among them are: Copper bells, Finger bells and Shoulder bells. (2)

(1) China's national minorities I. Great Wall Books. Beijing. 1984. P. 266
(2) Geng jing.- Qiang xiang qing. (The feeling of aQiang village). Books of Chu and Ba. Chengdu. 2006. P. 54 y 55

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