Fangsheng

Name: Fang Sheng.
Type: Gourd > Free Reed > Aerophones.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 412.132
Pa Yin: 匏 Gourd.
Country: Henan Province, China.
Region: Far East Asia.

Description: The fang-sheng [literally “square sheng”] is mainly found in Henan province of China. It is not a very popular instrument compared to the more common circular sheng.

In comparison with circular sheng: The pipes are set in three straight rows or 5 pipes, 4 on the inside and 5. Yet this arrangement of pipes is much older than that of the circular sheng, according to early drawings of the hulusheng and the larger and lower pitched Yu [now extinct]. The circular pattern seems to have become popular at a later date.

Developments: Modern versions of the fang-sheng can be found made with metal wind chambers and there are versions with thirty-six pipes with small keys to assist in playing all the pipes. These are heavy and awkward instruments that are seldom in tune, and were developed to enable the fang-sheng to play “modern” orchestral music.

Citation: Randy Raine-Reusch [Fang-sheng article @ asza.com]

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