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Ten best-known ancient Chinese melodies

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Chinese music is believed to date back to between 8,000 or 9,000 years ago, based on the discovery of more than 16 bone flutes unearthed in Henan province. The flutes were identified as instruments made in the Neolithic Age.

Over time, musical instruments have diversified, and most can be divided into four categories: plucked string instruments, percussion instruments, bowed instruments, and wind instruments. Among them, guqin (plucked seven-string musical instrument of the zither family), pipa or Chinese lute (four-stringed Chinese musical instrument, belonging to the plucked category of instruments), erhu (two-stringed bowed musical instrument) and flute are the most famous ones. Most of Chinese classical music pieces feature these four traditional instruments.

According to expert research, most of the original music of these pieces has been lost, and the existing ones are composed by posterities under famous titles or allusions for a more powerful influence. Nonetheless, these classical pieces are extremely valuable, and one can embrace the Chinese culture and history by listening to or studying them.

The following are some of the most famous melodies from the Middle Kingdom. Each piece of the music has a story behind it, and thus forming a specific aesthetic and spiritual enjoyment. Begin this journey and immerse yourself in the unique charm of traditional Chinese music and instruments.