Ching (instrument)

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Ching (musical instrument).jpg
A pair of ching
Percussion instrument
Other namesChheng, Chhing
Hornbostel–Sachs classification 111.142 (idiophone)

Ching (also spelled Chheng, Khmer : ឈិង or Chhing, Thai : ฉิ่ง) are finger cymbals played in Cambodian and Thai theater and dance ensembles. [1]


Construction and use

Joined by a cord that runs through the center, ching are bowl-shaped, about 5 centimeters in diameter, and made of bronze alloy—iron, copper, and gold. They are struck together in a cyclical pattern to keep time and regulate the melody, and they function as the "timekeeper" of the ensemble. [2] The rhythm typically consists of alternating the accented closed stroke with an unaccented open "ching" stroke. The name "ching" is probably onomatopoeic for this open sound. [2]

Musical context

The Cambodian ensemble—which has traditionally accompanied court dance, masked plays, and shadow plays and ceremonies—is composed of vocalists and instruments: gong chimes, reed instruments, metallophones, xylophones, drums, and ching. A Thai ensemble consists of stringed fiddles, flutes, zither, xylophones, gong circles, drums, and ching. Melody in both Thai and Khmer musics is regulated by cyclic patterns realized on the drums and ching. [3]

Historical significance

Ching used by a dancer in Thailand. Wat Thai Village DC 2013 (9340262911).jpg
Ching used by a dancer in Thailand.

Evidence of the ching has been found in Angkor, the great temple-city of Khmer civilization, where classical art flourished between the ninth to the fifth centuries. Scenes carved in the walls of the temple depict celestial dancers with their musical instruments, including small cymbals (ching). [2]

See also

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  1. Sam, Sam-Ang (1994). Ebihara, Carol A.; Lodgerwood, Judy (eds.). "Cambodian Music and Dance in North America". Cambodian Culture Since 1974: Homeland and Exile. Cornell University Press. 41 (1): 177–180. JSTOR   852596.
  2. 1 2 3 Sam, Sam-Ang. Miller, Terry E.; Williams, Sean (eds.). "The Khmer People of Cambodia". The Garland Handbook of Southeast Asian Music. Retrieved 14 September 2013.[ permanent dead link ]
  3. Tran, Quang Hai. "Pin Peat". Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Retrieved 14 September 2013.[ permanent dead link ]