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The Bian Zhong
One of the most important founds in the last decades was the unearthing of the tombs of Marquis Yi in the 1970ies. The most astonishing object unearthed was longly discussed before it was decided to accept it as a musical instrument. A very large set of bronze bells, ranging up to a size of over one meter and hung in two rows on a stand create the first set of a melodic percussion instrument.
The model shown above is of course just a small model, but the bells shape and appearance is authentic.
It is not sure how this set was played, but it is rather secure that every bell knew two ways of striking it and producing two pitches or tones, mostly in the intervall of a (mediocre) third. These bell sets are believed to be among the ursupators for some ancient Chinese scales.
Sometimes, model sets are sold on Ebay for decoration purposes. They do not resound the ancient scales.
Besides these ancient links, the idea of hanging bells in a row is another important link for the understanding of the "true" or historical origins of the xylophone and gong ensembles.
Pictures (Click to expand):
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