The bangu is one of the drums produced in the Shang Dynasty. In the Shang Dynasty (1562~1066 BCE), more than fifty percent of the instruments at that time were percussion instruments. Today the bangu is an important part of Chinese theater, folk music, opera, and chamber ensembles. In traditional theater the drummer acts as conductor and plays both bangu and ban.
The bangu is a small drum with a single head that measures about 10 inches (25 cm) in diameter. The frame is made of thick wedges of hard wood about 3 inches (7.5cm) thick, and glued together forming a circle with a metal band holding the frame together. The membrane head is typically made of pig skin or cow-hide and struck with two bamboo sticks. The actual striking area is a small convex central circular opening (about 5 or 6 cm in diameter), which is called the Guxin (drum heart). The size of this opening can be created larger or smaller depending upon the sounds required. The instrument is placed horizontally on cords which secure the drum loosely to a stand with three or four legs.
Bangu produces a piercing tone creating the sharp dry sound expected in the music of Chinese opera.The Guxin (drum heart) is typically smaller in the northern part of China creating a solid tone quality, while the southern ensembles use a larger striking area for a loose and soft tone.
|Since the bangu is an untuned percussion instrument, the instrument creates no discernable pitches, just a variety of sounds.|