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Home History and Culture Bone Flute - Chinese Earliest Musical Instrument
Bone Flute - Chinese Earliest Musical Instrument
Learn Chinese - History and Culture
There are various kinds of musical instruments in the world, including Chinese musical instruments, western musical instruments, special instruments, wind instruments, stringed instruments, and so on. Among them, the earliest musical instrument is bone flute.

Legend has it that there was a place with picturesque scenery, where the hardworking Miao people lived. A young man named Zhulang in the village lived on weaving bamboo baskets. Because he contacted with bamboos everyday, he gradually felt that the verdant bamboos had spiritualism. He could produce sweet-sounding songs with his mouth by using any of the bamboo leaves. As time passed, a beautiful girl named Miaomei was moved by his music and sang to the tune every time she heard his song.

One day, the naughty girl pointed at a section of bamboo and asked whether he could produce sound with it. After thinking for a while, the clever young man made the bamboo section hollow inside and cut several holes in it. The sound he made through the musical instrument was much more pleasing to the ear than the one produced by the bamboo leaves. The sweet-sounding music touched the bottom of the girl's heart and the young man sent the instrument to her as a keepsake. Since the young man was named Zhulang, the instrument was called Zhudi (bamboo flute).

This bamboo flute might have been the earliest musical instrument, but, of course, it is simply a beautiful legend. However, in the 1980s, China did discover bone flute of 8,000 to 9,000 years old.

Excavations in 1986 and 1987 at the early Neolithic site of Jiahu, located in Henan Province, China, have yielded six complete bone flutes. Fragments of approximately 30 other flutes were also discovered. The flutes may be the earliest complete, playable, tightly-dated, multi-note musical instruments.

Tonal analysis of the flutes revealed that the seven holes correspond to a tone scale remarkably similar to the Western eight-note scale that begins "do, re, mi." This carefully-selected tone scale suggested to the researchers that the Neolithic musician of the seventh millennium BC could play not just single notes, but perhaps even music.



从前有一个地方,那里山青水秀,勤劳的苗族人在那里居住。寨子里有一个年轻壮实的小伙子叫竹郎, 以编竹筐为生,由于他每天都与竹子打交道,日久生情,他觉得翠绿的竹子是有灵性的,小伙子随手拿起一片竹叶就可以吹出甜美又悦耳的声音。久而久之,他的音乐声打动了一位叫笛妹的美丽姑娘,每当小伙子吹起竹叶时,姑娘都会跟着唱。



1986年--1987年在河南省(中国中部)舞阳县贾湖村新石器遗址发掘出了随葬的21支骨头制成的笛子,它们全部是用鹤类尺骨制成,大多钻有7个孔 。这是迄今发现的最早的乐器。这事实也证明了古老的中国音乐在几千年前就已经发展到了相当高的水平.

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