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Anatomy of the OrchestraEntire Orchestra Photo

Our orchestra consists of bowed strings, plucked strings, cellos, woodwinds and percussion. On this page and the following pages, you can hear the instruments playing separately, and in sections. Each time you listen, you will hear a part of the same song, “Overture of Spring” played by different instruments. Start by listening to the whole orchestra playing this song. Hope you enjoy it!

Bowed String SectionBowed String Section Photo

Our orchestra’s bowed string section contains the Erhu. The Erhu is a member of the Huqin family of (mostly) two-stringed instruments. Although it occupies the middle of the tonal spectrum of the Huqin family, the Erhu plays a fairly wide range by itself.

Plucked String SectionPlucked String Section Photo

Our orchestra’s plucked string section contains the Zhongruan, the Xiao ruan, the Pipa, and the Liuqin. The Moon guitar, or Yueqin, occasionally joins our orchestra, especially when we play Beijing style opera.

Learn more about Plucked Strings >>

Woodwinds SectionWoodwinds Section Photo

Our woodwind section consists of two traditional instruments: the Dizi, a type of transverse bamboo flute, and the Sheng, a bamboo and metal mouth organ.

Learn more & hear the Dizi and the Sheng >>

Cello SectionCello Section Photo

The Cello is the only Western instrument that we regularly play. It is commonly used in the modern Chinese orchestra, because it provides a bass sound that the other instruments cannot reproduce. The cello can be plucked or bowed, depending upon the arrangement of the song we are playing.

Percussion SectionPercussion Section Photo

The percussion instruments form the oldest section of the Chinese orchestra. They include various drums, cymbals, gongs, and the yangqin, a hammered string instrument. Pictured here is the Chinese bass drum, or gu.

Learn more about the percussion section >>