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Guan

The guan (
pinyin: guan; literally "pipe" or "tube") is a Chinese double reed wind instrument. Unlike instruments in the shawm family such as the Western oboe or Chinese suona, the guan has a cylindrical bore, giving it a clarinet-like tone. It was an important leading melodic instrument in the court and ritual music of ancient China and is still popular in wind band music of northern China, as well as in some other Chinese regions.

In ancient times the instrument was called bili (traditional; simplified), and this term is still used as a synonym for the guan in northern China. In northern China, the guan is commonly known as guanzi, and is made of hardwood. In Cantonese music, the guan is known as houguan (literally "throat guan") and is made of bamboo. The houguan is made in three sizes.

The guan is quite difficult to play, largely due to the difficulty of controlling the embouchure; a Chinese saying states that "the sheng (mouth organ) takes 100 days to learn, but the guan takes 1,000 days to learn."

The guan is related to the Korean piri and Japanese hichiriki, both of which derive from the Chinese instrument.

In the 20th century, a larger, modernized version of the guan featuring metal keys was developed in China; it is used primarily in large orchestras of traditional instruments.