The Best Chinese Instrumental Music Songs

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


If you are a fan of Chinese instrumental music, you definitely need to check out this list of the best Chinese instrumental music songs. From traditional to contemporary, these songs are sure to please any music lover.

Chinese Instrumental Music


The erhu (pronounced “air–hoo”), also called nanhu, is a two-stringed Chinese musical instrument, used as a solo instrument as well as in various small ensembles and orchestras. It has a history of over 4000 years and is believed to be the oldest Chinese stringed instrument. The name “erhu” literally means “two-stringed instrument”, although some versions have three or more strings.

The sound of the erhu is very unique and recognizable, able to convey a wide range of emotions. It is sometimes compared to the sound of a human voice, and is sometimes said to be the “Chinese violin”.

There are many different types of erhu, each with its own distinct sound. The most common type is the “jiaoke” erhu, which has a bright, clear tone. Other types include the “pingdiao” erhu, which has a softer sound, and the “yaoqin” erhu, which has a more mellow sound.

The erhu is usually played with a bow made of horsehair. The player holds the bow in their right hand and manipulates the strings with their left hand. The bow is friction fitted onto the string so that it can slide freely without slipping off.

Erhu music can be divided into two main categories: solo pieces and instrumental pieces. Solo pieces are typically shorter and focused on technical virtuosity, while instrumental pieces are longer and often incorporate traditional Chinese melodies or rhythms.

Some well-known solo pieces include “The Wildcat Cries”, “Butterfly Lovers”, and “Yellow River Melody”. Well-known instrumental pieces include “Dance of the Yao People”, “Moon Reflected in Erquan Spring”, and “The Nanjing Drummers”.


The guzheng, also known as the Chinese zither, is a traditional Chinese musical instrument with a more than 2,500-year history. It has 16-25 strings and is plucked with the right hand while the left hand alters the pitch. The guzheng originated in the Warring States period (475-221 BC) and reached its height of popularity during the Tang Dynasty (618-907). It is still widely popular in China today and has been played by some of the mostfamous musicians in Chinese history, including Ling Lun, Guan Yinping, Yue Fei, and Kong Xiufeng.


The Pipa is a four-stringed Chinese musical instrument, sometimes referred to as the “Chinese lute”. The instrument has a pear-shaped wooden body with a varying number of frets ranging from 12 to 26. The Pipa is plucked with the right hand and fingered with the left hand.

The Pipa first appeared in China during the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC) and later became popular during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD). It then spread to Korea, Japan, Vietnam and other parts of Asia. Today, the Pipa is still one of the most popular instruments in China and is also played by musicians all over the world.

Best Chinese Instrumental Music Songs

“Butterfly Lovers”

“Butterfly Lovers” is a Chinese folk story that has been passed down for over two thousand years. The story is about the love between a man and a woman who are forced to marry other people. Though their love is forbidden, they find a way to be together in the end. The story has been made into many movies and TV shows, as well as an opera.

The music of “Butterfly Lovers” is just as beautiful as the story. The song is often played on the erhu, a traditional Chinese instrument. The erhu is a two-stringed instrument that is played with a bow. It has a very mellow sound, which makes it perfect for this kind of music.

If you’re looking for some beautiful Chinese instrumental music, then “Butterfly Lovers” is a great choice.

“Jasmine Flower”

Jasmine Flower is a traditional Chinese folk song. It is one of the most popular and well-known Chinese songs in the world. The song is believed to date back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907). It was first introduced to the West in the 18th century by a French Jesuit missionary, who heard it in Beijing. Jasmine Flower has been performed by many famous Chinese musicians over the years, including Lang Lang, Yo-Yo Ma, and Wu Man.

“Spring in the Qin Garden”

The song “Spring in the Qin Garden” is a well-known Chinese instrumental music song. It is often used in television shows and movies set in ancient China, as it evokes the feeling of that time period. The song is named after the Qin Garden, which is a famous garden in Xi’an, China.

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