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|Developed||502—557 (Liang Dynasty)|
|banghyang, hōkyō (kanji: 方響).|
The fangxiang (also fang xiang, fang hsiang; 方响 or 方響 in Chinese, pinyin: fāngxiǎng; also known in the West as the Chinese chang) is an organized-suspended (bianxuan) Chinese metallophone that has been used for over 1,000 years. Fangxiang is the only instrument type that is found in the Stone category of the eight sounds. It was first used in the Liang Dynasty (502—557 CE), and then standardized in the Sui and Tang dynasties mostly for court music.
Stones in the ancient sets are (like the bells) usually of similar thickness but of graded size. It consists of 16 iron, bronze or jewel tuned rectangular slabs with 16 different pitches, laid in a frame in two rows and usually constructed in L-shape. The slabs are struck with a hammer and played melodically. Unlike the metallophone today, Chinese changed the thickness of the metal plates to get different pitches. Each of the slabs is of the same length and width but they are of graduated thickness, with the thinner slabs producing lower tones and the thicker slabs producing higher tones.
In ancient times, the fangxiang was a popular instrument in Chinese court music. It was introduced to Korea, where it is called banghyang (hangul: 방향; hanja: 方響) and is still used in the court music of Korea. A similar instrument used in Japan is called the hōkyō (kanji: 方響). The first time that fangxiang shown up in Liang Period in the Northern and Southern Period (502-557). During Sui and Tang dynasties (581-840), the instrument got developed and became popular in the court. There were many famous fangxiang performers at that time, including Xianqi Ma and Bing Wu. Also at that time, there were many poets making ancient Chinese poems to accompany with the fangxiang performance.
In the 1980s, the fangxiang was expanded to include 51 soundboards. The soundboards were arranged based on twelve-tone equal temperament and double scale arrangement. On the top lane, it is the C# scale, and on the bottom lane it is the C major scale ranging from f to C4. The shelf used for holding those soundboards can rise up and fall down for the convenience of performing. The new design of the fangxiang sounds clear and melodious, and it is really good for accompaniments in the Chinese traditional orchestra music. For example, in the music "The Great Wall Cappricio", it is used to sound like a bell.
The fangxiang was used by the American composer Lou Harrison in his Music for Violin with Various Instruments: European, Asian and African (1967, revised 1969). Harrison had taken research trips to Japan and South Korea (1961) and Taiwan (1962).