Ancient Chinese Music

The Ancient Chinese Music is a new music style occurred in 21st century. The characteristics of ancient Chinese music include classical and elegant lyrics, poetic words, neat and beautiful melody and multi-ethnic musical instruments. It’s totally different from the metallic feeling of rock music and heavy feeling of classical music. Ancient Chinese Music has its unique aesthetic style. The whole piece of music is more melodious and dreamy, and it seems to be back to those antique scenes in the novel.

Ancient Chinese Music initial is used as background music of some Chinese mythical game such as Chinese Paladin: Sword and Fairy, etc. Since 2013, with the rise of Internet, many original ancient Chinese music teams were formed and more and more original ancient Chinese ancient music were created.


The main instruments of Ancient Chinese Music are traditional Chinese instruments.

  1. Erhu

Erhu is a two-stringed bowed musical instrument, more specifically a spike fiddle, which may also be called a Southern Fiddle, and sometimes known in the Western world as the Chinese violin or a Chinese two-stringed fiddle.

  1. Xiao

The Xiao is a Chinese vertical end-blown flute. It is generally made of bamboo. The Xiao is a very ancient Chinese instrument usually thought to have developed from a simple end-blown flute used by the Qiang people of Southwest China in ancient period.

  1. Chinese Flute – Dizi

The dizi is a major Chinese musical instrument, and is widely used in many genres of Chinese folk music, as well as Chinese opera, and the modern Chinese orchestra. Most dizi are made of bamboo, which explains why dizi are sometimes known by simple names such as Chinese bamboo flute.

  1. Bianzhong

Bianzhong is an ancient Chinese musical instrument consisting of a set of bronze bells, played melodically. These sets of chime bells were used as polyphonic musical instruments and some of these bells have been dated at between 2,000 to 3,600 years old. They were hung in a wooden frame and struck with a mallet.

  1. Konghou

The konghou is an ancient Chinese harp. The konghou became extinct sometime in the Ming Dynasty. It has been revived in the 20th century as a double bridge harp; the modern version of the instrument does not resemble the ancient one, but its shape is similar to Western concert harps.

  1. Guqin

The Guqin is a plucked seven-string Chinese musical instrument of the zither family. It has been played since ancient times, and has traditionally been favored by scholars and literati as an instrument of great subtlety and refinement as well as being associated with the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius.

  1. Pipa

Pipa is a four-stringed Chinese musical instrument, belonging to the plucked category of instruments. Pipa is one of the most popular Chinese instruments and has been played for almost two thousand years in China.


Here is some example of Ancient Chinese Music:

  1. Initial Ancient Chinese Music

[Pure Music] Back in Fairy

This is my favorite pure ancient Chinese music which is the main background music of Chinese Paladin: Sword and Fairy 4. The instruments of this music are Flute, Erhu and Chimes.

  1. Modern Ancient Chinese Music

[Song] Resisting World

This is my favorite song sung by He Tu. The instruments of this song are Flute, Guzheng, Pipa, Piano, Electric Bass and Drums.


For the signifying features and inferable patterns of the Ancient Chinese Music, I want to use music structure to analyze it. Take the Back in Fairy as an example;

[1] sonic anaphone: The Transition from flute to rrhu is very harmonic and it embodies a kind of environment where nobody is around you and that resembles to the scene in the game.

[2] tactic anaphone: In the beginning of this pure music is a long part of solo Flute and the timbre of flute makes people feel calm and brings them unconsciously into the world of wonderland. Therefore, it is similar to the sensation of skin being wrapped by cloud and comfortable wind.

[3] kinetic anaphone: The addition of Bianzhong sounds like swords in the game and when people hear Bianzhong which is added in Erhu, it reminds people of the fight scenes in the game.

I think the development from initial ancient Chinese music into modem ancient Chinese music is to cater to the need of the society. Music must be described as well as the society. The development can be reflected in the following aspects. First, most initial ancient Chinese music is the background music of games and it doesn’t include lyrics. Second, initial ancient Chinese music is played only by ancient Chinese music instruments. However, modern ancient Chinese music combines both ancient Chinese music instruments and popular music instruments. For example, Resisting World also includes piano, electric bass and other computer synthesizers. They combine both traditional Chinese elements and modern popular music elements. Third, initial ancient Chinese music didn’t have actual albums. Some even didn’t have digital music for downloading. However, some modern ancient Chinese music has actual albums and music videos. They can be downloaded online and saved them in individuals’ phones for listening at any time.

This kind of development is related to the need of the society and market. First, most people prefer to listen to songs rather than pure music because songs have lyrics. Consequently, some fans of ancient Chinese music who are proficient in Chinese ancient literacy are specialized in writing lyrics for ancient Chinese music and remix the pure music into songs. For example, based on the plot of the game and the melody of Back in Fairy, a group of team wrote the lyrics and remixed it into the song called In One Thousand.

During the remix, that music team not only change part of the pitch and note, but also add several popular music instruments in it. In fact, although this remix is not official, it’s even more popular than the original pure music.



  1. What are the differences of intersubjective and interobjective comparison between initial ancient Chinese music and modern ancient Chinese music?
  2. What are the differences of transmitters and receivers between initial ancient Chinese music and modern ancient Chinese music?
  3. What’s the detailed roles of popular music instruments added in ancient Chinese music?
  4. What kind of technical and cultural interference is the intended message subject to in its audience in the communication channel? What’s the difference of intended symbols understood by transmitters and receivers?
  5. What are the specific symbolic, iconic and indexical modes encoded in ancient Chinese music?