China Daily Global Edition (USA)
CHINA’S COURTLY CHIMES
Bianzhong, or set of chimes, is an ancient Chinese musical instrument consisting of a set of bronze bells that thrived around 3,000 years ago during the Western Zhou Dynasty (c. 11th century to 771 BC). Bianzhong was an important musical instrument associ
The bronze bells are connected with gan, or branches, to hang on a wooden frame.
Mei are used as tuners to adjust the pitch of the notes.
Gu is where the bells are struck to make sounds.
Zheng gu is located in the center bottom of the bells. The two sides of gu are divided into left and right areas.
Inside the bells
The bells are almond shaped with many nubs distributed over the outer surface of each bell. The bells’ special design, with a lens-shaped section and curved mouth, results in their unique acoustic features.
There are seven lacquered wooden frames to support the bronze chimes, which are supported by six bronze warriors with swords and eight cylinders.
The player uses a mallet to strike the lower part of the bronze bells to make sounds.
Niu chimes are composed of three groups of 19 bells with inscriptions on them.
It is used to strike the middle and upper parts of the bells. A set of chimes covers roughly five and a half octaves - a modern piano has just over seven octaves. It produces the entire 12 semitones, corresponding to the successive tones on a piano keyboard.
Height: 92.5 cm; weight: 134 kg; internal diameter: 60.5 cm × 46.2 cm
Yong chimes are composed of five groups of 45 bells. The biggest is 153.4 cm high and weighs 253.6 kilograms. The smallest is 20.2 cm high and weighs 2.4 kilograms.
Inscriptions on the bells show that they were given to Marquis Yi of Zeng by King Hui of Chu, the first king of the State of Chu during the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC).