Musical Instrument Vocabulary in Chinese
Posted by Julia Song on 2016-09-30 10:39:34 2380


Scientifically speaking, musical instruments produce sounds in a pattern. Yet, patterns of sound made by different instruments can evoke a variety of human emotions. Indeed, music can provide the soundtrack for our moods, whether it is soft and relax or with a beat that makes you want to get up and dance. So let’s look at the various categories of musical instruments.

String instruments:

Violin xiǎo tíqín 小提琴
Viola zhōnɡ tí qín 中提琴
Viola zhōnɡ tíqín 中提琴
Cello dà tíqín 大提琴
Guitar jítā 吉他
Double bass dīyīn tíqín 低音提琴
Ukulele yóukèlǐlǐ 尤克里里
Harp shùqín 竖琴
Electric bass diàn bèisī 电贝司

Is there a musical instrument that you would like to play? My favorite instrument is the violin, and in China, the most famous violin repertoire is "Butterfly Lovers."

Keyboard instruments:

Piano ɡānɡqín 钢琴
Organ ɡuǎnfēnɡqín 管风琴
Piano Accordion shǒufēnɡqín 手风琴

Percussion instruments:

Gong luó 锣
Snare Drum xiǎo ɡǔ 小鼓
Triangle sānjiǎotiě 三角铁
Drum set juéshì ɡǔ 爵士鼓
Hand Bell shǒuyáolínɡ 手摇铃
Xylophone mùqín 木琴

A percussion instrument makes sound by being struck or scraped by something, such as one or more sticks or mallets – or even by hand. Some percussion instruments, such as the xylophone, can also play musical notes to make melody and harmony, unlike drums, which only produce rhythmic sounds.


Oboe shuānɡhuánɡ ɡuǎn 双簧管
Clarinet dānhuánɡ ɡuǎn 单簧管
Woodwinds were originally made from wood, thus their name, and require breath blown through them in order to make sound.

Chinese traditional instruments:

Chinese zither ɡǔzhēnɡ 古筝
Chinese lute/Pipa pípa 琵琶
Chinese fiddle èrhú 二胡
Jing hu jīnɡhú 京胡
Chinese wood block mùyú 木鱼
Hulusi húlusī 葫芦丝

The ancient Chinese believed that music could purify people's minds. More than 3,000 years ago, Chinese traditional musical instruments were mainly classified into three categories: string, wind and percussion.

This is just a sample of musical instrument vocabulary in Chinese. If you want to learn more, please register here to learn with the best Chinese teachers!

About The Author

Related Articles