Sounds of the Silk Road on red wavy banner

Rhythmic drumbeats. The airy notes of a flute. A sharp clash of cymbals!

black and white photo of musician playing silk road stringed instrument with camels in the background

Travelers exchanged many goods across Asia, from shimmering silks  to exotic spices. They also shared their music, art, and religions.

These are some of the sounds that a traveler may have heard along the ancient Silk Road .

Musicians played all along the Silk Road—from desert inns to grand palaces. Music was a way for people from different cultures to share ideas and tell stories. 

Over time, musical styles and instruments blended and spread across Asia.

Button that says PLAY MUSIC
button that says MAKE YOUR OWN MUSIC


These traditional instruments are similar to ones played in the ancient city of Xi'an. Xi'an was China's capital and one of the world's largest cities during the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-906). Musicians from all along the Silk Road gathered there. Over time, the music of Xi'an blended the rhythms and melodies from east and west.

Image Credits:

Photos: © American Museum of Natural History