Pa Yin / Eight Fold

The Pa Yin [八音] “eight tone” classification system is used to classify musical instruments according to what materials they were made from. However, the Chou-Li [Rites of Chou] an anonymous treatise compiled from earlier sources in about the 2nd century BC. Which had the following order: Metal, Stone, Clay, Leather, Silk, Wood, Gourd and Bamboo.

The same order was presented in the Tso Chuan [Commentary of Tso], attributed to Tso Chiu-Ming, probably compiled in the 4th century BC. The Pa yin system is correlated to the eight seasons and eight winds of Chinese culture, autumn and west, autumn-winter and north-west, summer and south, spring and east, winter-spring and north east, summer-autumn and south west winter and north, and spring-summer and south east, respectively.

Bamboo [竹] This category includes flutes [dizi, xiao].

Gourd [匏] is the category applied to free-reed [Hulusi, Sheng] .

Clay [土] it is a category applied to musical instruments that are baked of clay notably the xun [aerophone] and fou a percussion instrument.

Silk [絲] in short the silk category includes plucked [Guqin, Zheng, Yangqin] bowed [huqin family, erhu] and struck stringed musical instruments.

Stone [石] a category in which pitched ~ struck lithophones most notably chimes are found.

Metal [金] the metal category contains several struck idiophones. It also includes as the category indicates various metallophones they include a variety of gongs 鑼 and cymbals “po” 鈸. Musical instruments mainly struck idiophones that are made entirely from metal. This includes pitched and un-pitched instruments. This category includes the Laba a valveless trumpet entirely constructed of metal even though its an aerophone in principle.

Skin [革]  membranophones. As the name indicates drums are classified in this category.

Pa Yin / Eight Fold
Instruments Categories Chinese Characters
 Flutes  Bamboo
Sheng Gourds
Pipa Strings
Qin Zither 古琴
Gu-Zheng Zither 古箏
Konghou Harp  箜篌
Pipa Lute 琵琶
Liuqin Lute 柳琴
Ruan Lute  阮
Huqin Bowed Family 胡琴
Erhu Bowed 二胡
Yangqin Struck 洋琴
Bianqing Clay 編磬
Tezhong Clay 特鐘
Cymbals Metal
Gongs Metal
 Bianzhong  Metal  編鐘
Drums Skin


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