China's music – especially its folk music – reflects China's long history and rich multi-ethnic heritage.
According to legend, music can trace its origins to a goddess who, seeing the exhaustion of people working day in and day out, gathered together sounds from nature for their pleasure. Goddess or no goddess, the history of music in China is long: 160 bone whistles, used by ancient hunters to lure birds, have been found dating back more than 7000 years.
In 1978, archaeologists unearthed an instrument, the bianzhong, which consists of 64 bronze bells. This instrument was elegantly designed, with accurate musical scales over five octaves, a sweet timbre, and with each bell having two distinct tones. That this instrument was nearly 2000 years old points to the early development of music in China.
Over time, Chinese people have created a vibrant musical culture. There are more than 1000 traditional Chinese musical instruments, including string and pizzicato instruments, woodwinds, and more than 100 forms of percussion.
Reflecting China's vast size and many ethnic groups, there are many forms of Chinese music: from Jiangnan Sizhu, or Silk and Bamboo Music , to Xi'an drum music, from Hebei Chuige, to Zhoushan drum and gong and the music of Guangdong in the country's South. Through thousands of years of change and development, Chinese traditional music has secured its place as an important part of the world's cultural heritage. Cultural exchange programs help to promote this important art throughout the world.