Sheng: Characteristics, price, and history of ethnic musical instruments


Sheng is a free reed aerophone instrument used in traditional Chinese music. Made from 13 bamboo pipes of different lengths, it is an instrument used in modern Chinese orchestras. It is said to have a history of about 2000 years, and its shape is very similar to that of the traditional Japanese musical instrument, the sho. It comes in various sizes, large and small, and is like a saxophone. Today, this instrument is known as one of the most famous musical instruments in Asia.


This instrument was born in China.

About the price

Prices range from tens of thousands of yen to hundreds of thousands of yen.

History of Sheng

Sheng appeared in the literature from the 14th century BC to the 12th century BC and was recognized as a type of sho. The word sho is found in some poems. Ancient musical instruments with various numbers of pipes, bamboo or metal reeds have been found in what is now Hubei Province. In the 8th century, three Yu and three students were sent to the Japanese court, where they were preserved at Shosoin Shokura in Nara. All instruments feature 17 pipes with long curved mouthpieces, much like the traditional Shen used today. However, variants and chromatic instruments with different numbers of pipes have been documented for centuries. The currently used sho has improved sound and volume, and has a wider range. The number of pipes has been increased to 32, and the range has been expanded to allow you to play harmonies and chords. The size of the air chamber and pipes has also been increased, and the tone of the instrument has changed. Shen’s brass band technique has also made considerable progress, and has been used for accompaniment and ensemble, as well as being developed into a solo instrument. In Chinese folk instrument orchestras and ensembles, Shen creates a background with chord accompaniment and plays a role in organizing the tones of unique folk instruments. We specialize in powerful and Chinese-style gorgeous performances that make full use of the characteristics of musical instruments.

Features of Sheng

Sheng is a free-reed aerophone. A lead is attached to the lower end of a bamboo tube and inserted into a metal resonator. All tubes are plugged into a gourd nut or a dove with a mouthpiece made of wood or copper. An instrument like a small organ that blows with your mouth. Breathe in from the bottom resonator to make a sound. The mechanism is such that the reed and the airflow in the pipe resonate to produce sound. Since you can play multiple notes at the same time, you can also play chords. There are various playing methods, such as accompaniment with chords and powerful melody. Shen is easy to use because the pitch is stable. Currently, various types of sho, such as 21, 24, 25, and 26 reed sho, sho with a keyboard, and sho with a resonance tube, are appearing. It is often played with two, three, and four notes, and a strong sense of rhythm is a characteristic of Shen’s traditional performance.

Sheng’s song

Sheng is an instrument that is often used mainly in Chinese music. It often appears in Chinese orchestras.


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