Type: Idiophones > Lamellaphones > Frames > Jaw-Harps.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 121.222
Specimen: 1 in collection.
Region: Yunnan Province, China > Far East Asia.
Acquisition Source: Randy Raine-Reusch, asza.com [Kouxian article].
Description: Kouxian [in Chinese: 口弦; pinyin: kǒuxián; literally: “mouth string”] is a general Chinese term for any variety of jaw harp. The jaw harp is a plucked idiophone in which the lamella is mounted in a small frame, and the player’s open mouth serves as a resonance chamber.
Throughout China, it is particularly popular among the non-Han ethnic groups of Southwest China, such the Yunnan, Guangxi, and Guizhou. The varieties of Chinese have numerous vernacular names for the instrument; one such name is hoho.
Construction: They may be made from bamboo or a metal alloy, such as brass. Modern kouxian with three or more idiophones might be tuned to the first few tones of the minor pentatonic scale.
Chinese jaw harps may comprise multiple idiophones that are tied together at one end and spread in a fan formation. This allows for ease o play, when the musician is playing this instrument.