Curiosities of Music - online book

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156                  CURIOSITIES OF MUSIC.
many holes cut in the gourd; each of these pipes contains in it a tongue of copper or gold, the vibration of which causes the sound; beneath this is a hole cut in "the bamboo, through which aperture the air rushes without giving any sound, but when the hole is stopped by pressing a finger upon it, the air having no other outlet, is forced up the pipe, and striking the metallic tongue, gives out an agreeable reed sound. A curved mouth-piece through which the performer is to blow, is introduced at the centre of the gourd. The cheng contains all the elements of the reed organ, and it would be a simple matter to produce harmonies with it, and yet with this instrument in the world for four thousand years, it remained for moderns (comparatively speaking,) to discover the art of combining different sounds; but the invention of so well-conceived a reed instrument in such remote ages, certainly entitles the ancient Chinese to the utmost respect of their unconscious imitators, the Europeans.
There exist in China, some instruments which are not classed with either of the above eight kinds of tone. These we have thought best to group under the head of " miscellaneous," though they are quite as important as any of the preced­ing, except perhaps, the king, cheng, and kin. The Chinese have long possessed a peculiar variety of fiddle, which at first appearance much resem­bles a mallet with cords stretched from the

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III