Bangu & Bangzi

The Bangu is a combination of two instruments — the Ban and the Danpigu. Ban are clappers consisting of rectangular blocks made from bamboo or hardwood, which are tied together by a silk cord. The Danpigu is a drum with a frame made of thick wedges of hardwood glued together to form a circle, and wrapped with a metal band. Bangzi are high-pitched Chinese woodblocks, with a characteristically dry, percussive sound.

Dabo & Naobo

Naobo are medium-sized cymbals with a thin, flat rim and a slight upturn at the edge, while Dabo are of similar build but bigger. Both are held at the back with a cloth or rope, and clashed against each other with both hands. The dynamic range is wide, and when hit hard they are capable of evoking soul-stirring sounds. They can also be muted after a strike by pressing the rims against the player’s body.

Daluo & Xiaoluo

Luo is the generic term for a gong. Daluo (large gong with falling pitch) is larger in comparison to its counterpart Xiaoluo (small gong with rising pitch). Ceremonial, majestic instruments, Gongs have great significance in Chinese percussion, and can be traced back to the 6th century. Usually made of bronze and with a plate-like shape, gongs are struck in the center with a mallet padded with felt or leather.

Hua Pen Gu & Xiao Tanggu

Hua Pen Gu and Xiao Tanggu are heavy, barrel-shaped drums with a head made from animal hide on both sides. The larger Dagu is strong and expressive, with two basic sounds — low when hit in the middle of the drum head, and mid when hit on the wooden shell or rim of the drum head. The smaller Xiao Tanggu produces solid midrange sounds, and can be played with small cymbals and gongs to create a festive atmosphere with fast rhythms.



The Kane is a small, saucer-shaped gong or bell played with a special double-headed mallet that is often made from horn. Although sometimes suspended from a bar, it is more commonly held with one hand and beaten by the other. They can be played in Buddhist or Shinto ceremonies, and the purpose of their use is often to signify time or alert people to certain events.


Kakko is a small cylindrical drum, with two oversized hoop drum heads that are laced onto a wooden body and made taut. The body of the Kakko is under 30 cm long, with a diameter of about 15 cm. It is relatively high-pitched, with a sound somewhat reminiscent of a woodblock or clapper. The drum sits on a wooden stand in front of a kneeling performer, and is struck on both sides with two hard, thin, mallet-like sticks.

Ko-Tsuzumi & O-Tsuzumi

Double-headed, laced drums with an hourglass-shaped body, Tsuzumi are high-pitched and sharp. The drum is struck with one hand, while the other hand squeezes or releases the cords to increase or decrease the tension of the heads, allowing the player to raise or lower the pitch. There are two types of Tsuzumi — the smaller Ko-Tsuzumi, which is lower in pitch, and the bigger and higher-pitched O-Tsuzumi.


The Miya-Daiko is a robust, wine-barrel-shaped drum with tacked heads, and a loud booming sound. Made of one big piece of wood, they are between 50 to 100 cm in diameter and have a body length equal to, or longer than the diameter. Miya-Daiko can be played flat on the floor, or on a stand in either a horizontal or diagonal position. They are played with two thick wooden sticks called Bachi.


Okedo-Daiko are bucket-shaped, lace-headed drums of various sizes. The biggest Okedo-daiko in Japan is 380 cm in diameter, but they are all lightweight enough to be hung on a shoulder strap to accommodate dancing and movement on stage while playing. Unlike most drums, which are made from one piece of wood, Okedo-Daiko are put together from vertically oriented blocks that are beveled and glued to create a cylinder.


The Shime-Daiko is a shallow-bodied drum, with a relatively high-pitched sound. Although they are made with two heads, Shime-Daiko are played only on one side. Usually, they are suspended on slightly tilted stands with performers either sitting or standing. Like a snare drum, the Shime-Daiko is capable of cutting through other drums in an ensemble, and is often used to maintain the beat.


The Shōko is a small bronze gong, around 15 cm in diameter suspended from a richly ornamented vertical frame. It is struck with two round-headed mallets, traditionally made from wood or stone, either with a single or a double stroke. In both cases, the mallets remain on the gong, which immediately mutes the sound. The Shōko has been used in Buddhist temples in Japan since ancient times.


The sound of the Tsuri-Daiko often forms the central beat of an entire orchestra. It is hung in an elaborate circular frame and played with two thick mallets on one side only. The Tsuri-Daiko is played with two types of strokes. The “Mebachi” is a soft stroke with the left hand just below the drumhead's center, and the “Obachi” is a loud attack of the right hand to the drumhead's center.



The Jing is a large gong, which is often used to delineate the overall rhythm in traditional Korean music. Usually hung on a wooden frame, the Jing is made from high-quality sheet metal, and played with a thick, padded mallet. The Jing is associated with the sound and feeling of wind, and when played should resonate as long as possible to “embrace" the sound of the other instruments.


The Kkwaenggwari is a small, dish-like gong with a high-pitched, crashing timbre. The right hand strikes the Kkwaenggwari in different spots to bring out a range of sounds and resonances. The left hand holds the instrument with thumb and index finger, and the remaining three fingers mute and dampen the ringing of the metal, similar to a hi-hat. This playing technique can produce amazing colors and rhythms.

Samul-buk & Sori-buk

The Buk is a low-pitched, double-headed shallow barrel drum that is taut with animal hide. The Samul-buk has laced heads, and is played by striking it with a single stick on only one of its heads. The heads on the Sori-buk are nailed to the body of the drum. The left side is played with the bare left hand, and a birchwood stick in the right hand strikes either the drumhead or the wood of the body.

Samul Janggu & Sanjo Janggu

The Janggu is an hourglass-shaped drum with two heads made from animal skin. They can be played on the floor, or carried with a strap on the shoulder while dancing. The tube that connects the left and right sides determines the tone. A wider tube will sound deep and husky while a narrow one will sound hard and snappy. The Sanjo Janggu has a very rich sound, while the smaller Samul Janggu produces a louder sound.


The Sogo is a small and light drum with two membranes made from animal skin on the two sides of a thin wooden body. A short wooden handle is attached to the drum body, which is held with the right hand. The left hand plays the Sogo with a short wooden stick either on the membrane or the wood of the shell. The Sogo produces a gentle sound and often functions as a prop for choreographed dances.
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