Type: Aerophones > Flutes > Vessel.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 421.221.42
Region: Far East Asia.
Description: The Xun [simplified Chinese: 埙; traditional Chinese: 塤; pinyin: xūn; Cantonese= hyun1] is a globular, vessel flute from China. It is one of the oldest musical instrument in China having been in use for approximately 7000 years. The Xun is initially made of baked clay or bone or later clay or ceramic.
The xun the only surving example of the “earth” category of musical instruments in the bayin or “eight tone” system of classifying musical instruments. Based on the eight classifications of tone from, metal, silk, bamboo, gourd, earth, membrane [animal hide or snake skin] or wood.
History: Archeologists have discovered vessel-flutes like the xun in common graves of the Xia dynasty. They had only three finger holes capable of a limited range of notes producing only the five notes of the pentatonic scale being do, mi, so, la, fa or C / D / G / E / A / F.
The shape of the xun as it is today was due to efforts of standardization during the Shang dynasty. Most xun of this era have five finger holes and produced a much better quality of tone. They were able to produce all tones and half tones in a single octave.
The origins of the xun date back to the Stone Age, it has much to do with the Chinese hunting practices. During ancient times people tied a stone or mud ball to the rope that was used for hunting wild animals.
Some of the balls were hallow, which allowed it to make many sounds when thrown. Most people found it enjoyable and learned how to blow air into it. Gradually, the “stone meteor” became the musical instrument we know as “xun”.
Citations: Bibliography: Jin, Jie 2011 Chinese Music. Cambridge University Press. ISBN0521186919 ; Thrasher, Alan 2000 Chinese Musical Instruments. New York: Oxford University Press Inc. p. 16. ISBN 0-19–590777-9 ; Websites: Thrasher, Alan 2007 “Xun”. Grove Music Online. Oxford University Press ; Asza.com / Xun Article by Randy Raine-Reusch ;