instrument gallery logo
fangsheng - Chinese mouth organ

The fangsheng (literally "square sheng") is mainly found in Henan province of China, and is not a very popular instrument compared to the more common circular sheng. The pipes are set in three straight rows or 5 pipes, 4 (inside) and 5. Yet this arrangement of pipes is much older than that of the circular sheng, according to early drawings of the hulusheng and the larger and lower pitched Yu (now extinct). The circular pattern seems to have become popular at a later date.

Modern versions of the fangsheng can be found made with metal wind chambers, and there are versions with thirty-six pipes with small keys to assist in playing all the pipes. These are heavy and awkward instruments that are seldom in tune, and were developed to enable the fangsheng to play "modern" westernized orchestrated music.

Country: China
Region: Asia
Type: Free-reed

Yu - ancient Chinese mouth organ
Yu - Han Dynasty
206 BC - 220 AD
©  R. Raine-Reusch, May 2002