The ancient Chinese belief that music is meant not to amuse but to purify one's thoughts finds particular expression in the cult of the qin (ch'in), a long zither possessing a repertory calling for great subtlety and refinement in performance and still popular among a small circle of scholar-musicians. A famous qin scholar once said, "Though the qin player's body be in a gallery or in a hall, his mind should dwell with the forests and streams."
Chinese music is as old as Chinese civilization. Melody and tone color are prominent expressive features of Chinese music, and great emphasis is given to the proper articulation and inflection of each musical tone.
Chinese musical instruments traditionally have been classified according to the materials used in their construction namely metal, wood, silk, bamboo, gourd, clay, skin, and stone of these, the stone and wood instruments are obsolete. The older instruments include long zithers; flutes; panpipes; the sheng, or mouth organ; and percussion instruments, such as clappers, drums, and gongs. Of later origin are various lutes and fiddles, introduced to China from Central Asia.