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Origin[]

It is one of the oldest Chinese instruments, with images depicting its kind dating back to 1100 BC, and there are actual instruments from the Han era that have been preserved today. Traditionally, the sheng has been used as an accompaniment instrument for solo suona or dizi performances. It is one of the main instruments in kunqu and some other forms of Chinese opera. Traditional small ensembles also make use of the sheng, such as the wind and percussion ensembles in northern China. In the modern large Chinese orchestra, it is used for both melody and accompaniment The sheng has been used in the works of a few non-Chinese composers, including Lou Harrison, Tim Risher, Daníel Bjarnason, Brad Catler, and Christopher Adler. Some believe that Johann Wilde and Pere Amiot traveled to China and brought the first shengs to Europe in 1740 and 1777 respectively, although there is evidence that free reed musical instruments similar to shengs were known in Europe a century earlier.

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