Although the Sheng (also Scheng) is often called a mouth organ because of its bamboo tubes it's a harmonica just like the Khen Khen .
Actually this reed instrument is the model for the harmonica! The Sheng is also the root for the development of the harmonium.
The height of the Sheng is approx. 60 centimetres. However, there are also some modified instruments in China, e.g. the
The Sheng is played like a recorder but with two hands simultaneously. Blowing and drawing in the air can produce different tones, as with any other harmonica. The sound is generated by very thin metal tongues (bronze, copper or brass alloy) at the end of the whistles. These are in the cup-like metal body, where the mouthpiece is attached. The pitch depends on the natural frequency of the metal tongues, as well as the cuts at the back of the whistles (bamboo canes).
The structure is similar to that of the Japanese Sho, which has circularly arranged whistles, too. In contrast to the Khen, whose sound is like that of ducks in December, the sound of the Sheng is much more penetrating and louder. Thus it is nothing for musicians with sensitive neighbours. In addition to that it looks like an Italian car horn!