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The Rich Sounds of the Lisu Ethnicity: the Qibeng

Last Updated on 2023/11/24

Understanding the Cultural Essence of the Lisu’s Qibeng.

The “Qibeng” (起奔) is an ancient plucked string instrument popular among the Lisu people, an ethnic minority in China. It stands as one of the most representative musical instruments of the Lisu culture and is an integral part of their daily entertainment and cultural practices.

Tuning and Musical Range

The Qibeng is notable for its versatility in tuning, featuring six different established tuning methods. This variety allows for the performance of over 30 distinct melodies, each with its own unique content and thematic expression.

Playing Technique and Harmony

When played, the Qibeng can accommodate two or three voice parts simultaneously. This multi-voiced approach allows one part to carry the melody while the others provide harmonic accompaniment. This interplay results in a vivid, smooth, and nuanced expression of the instrument’s main themes. The Qibeng’s sound is characterized by its clarity, brightness, and pleasing tonal quality, making it highly expressive and suitable for both solo performances and vocal accompaniment.

Cultural Significance

The Qibeng plays a crucial role in the preservation and transmission of traditional Lisu songs, dances, and music. Each piece performed on this instrument is associated with specific themes and narratives, reflecting various aspects of Lisu life and culture. Consequently, the tuning of the strings often changes to align with the thematic content of each piece.


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