Bo Lang Gu
If you’ve been to the NYS Chinese Lantern Festival, you know that traditional Chinese music is an integral part of your experience. Twice a night, you can take in beautiful performances on classic instruments like the pi pa . In addition to these mini-concerts, music fills the Fairgrounds while you walk along the lanterns. This background orchestral sound aids in transporting you and enriching your cultural experience.
An instrument you’ve heard at the Lantern Festival but weren’t aware of was the Bo Lang Gu.
Bo Lang Gu (Chinese: 拨浪鼓; pinyin: bō làng gǔ) is often referred to as a “rattle drum” in English. The instrument has existed in China since the Warring States period (Chinese: 战国; pinyin: Zhàn Guó). When it was invented it was used as a percussion instrument to harmonize with other instruments in musical pieces. Back in Zhan Guo times, it was called Tao (Chinese: 鼗; pinyin: táo).
Tao, or Bo Lang Gu, usually consists of one double-headed drum, a rod located at the bottom of the drum, and two pellets which are individually connected to the side of drum by a short cord. When you hold the rod and start twisting it back and forth, the pellets will strike the drum in a rhythmic fashion. Musicians found the sound made by Bo Lang Gu solemn and ceremonial when harmonizing with other ancient instruments. As a result, Bo Lang Gu was frequently seen among banquets and religious celebrations. However, street vendors in Song Dynasty did not think of art or music when they got their hands on Bo Lang Gu. They decided that it was the best tool to signal people to come out of their houses and spend money, and it was proven to be quite effective. This new tradition became so prevalent that very few people today know that Bo Lang Gu was an instrument before it was associated with candy, needles, and thread.
At our 2017 Chinese Culture Camp, our ethnic music/dance teacher will travel from Taiwan to Syracuse to bring this ancient musical instrument back to life. Please join us this July and make some joyful noise by using this epic instrument from ancient China!
If you’re ready to go to camp, click here to enroll today!