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Music
Xun

The xun () is a Chinese ocarina made of clay or ceramic. It is one of the oldest Chinese instruments.No one is entirely sure how old the xun is, but an instrument was discovered in east China's Zhejiang province which has been dated to around 7,000 years ago. The earliest Xun was made of stones and bone, and seems to have been used by hunters to trap animals by imitating their voices. But the early instruments wouldn't have been used to play music as we know it on, as the oldest known instrument has only one finger hole.

The xun developed at a slow pace, and by the Shang Dynasty about 3,000 years ago, there were instruments with five finger holes, which greatly enhanced its expressive capacity. The Xun was an important instrument in ancient court music. As early as the Warring States period around 2,700 years ago, the xun was already being widely used in court music, especially during various sacrifice activities. But because of its limited range and its quiet volume, the xun was more often used for domestic court music.

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The xun has a blowing hole on top and generally eight smaller finger holes (three each for the index, middle, and ring fingers of each hand, and one for each thumb). It comes in various sizes, from the large "goose-egg shaped" instrument to the small "peach-shaped" ones, and the pear-shaped xun is now the most common instrument. In ancient court music, the xun is further divided into two kinds according to their size: the bigger one is called Ya-xun, which has a lower tone and was used in Confucian music ritual, and the smaller one is called Song-xun, which has a higher tone.
 

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As the Xun has a special haunting tone, it is good at creating an hollow and melancholy atmosphere, and these special characteristics make its music sacred, elegant, yet mysterious and a little sad, which were greatly favored by the ancient literati.

The Korean equivalent is the hun. In Japan, the same type of instrument is called tsuchibue "Japanese clay flute".

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