Category Archives: Chordophones



Name: Suka.
Type: Chordophones > Lyres > Viols.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.7
Country: Poland.
Region: Eastern Europe.

Description: The suka or ‘Suka Kocudzka’ is bowed musical instrument that is in a shape of the violin. However like the Bulgarian gadulka it is played by resting the instrument vertically, while sitting on the knee. This was thought to be the “missing link” between the upside-down or “knee chordophone” instruments, and the modern violin. It died out, and was known only from drawings of a single specimen displayed at an exhibition in 1888.

Playing Techniques: The strings were stopped at the side with the fingernails; similar to the Gadulka.

Construction: Similar in appearance to the violin the suka is a bit more narrower in profile. A flat bridge and nut keep the strings taught for playing while the instrument is tuned. Seven tuning pegs are inserted at the top [peg box] of the instrument.

Citations: Bibliography: Websites: Polish Folk Instruments [Suka Page] ; Instrumenty z duszą”, odc. 11 – Suka biłgorajska / suka of Biłgoraj – Youtube [Video] ;


Name: Gue.
Type: Chordophones > Lyres > Bowl.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.22.71
Country: Shetland Islands.
Region: Scotland > Western Europe.

Description: The gue is an extinct type of two-stringed bowed lyre or zither from the Shetland Isles. The instrument was described in 1809 by Arthur Edmondston in view of the Ancient and Present State of the Shetland Islands: “Before violins were introduced, the musicians performed on an instrument called a gue. Which appears to have had some similarity to the violin, but had only two strings of horse hair.

The first person to recreate the Shetland gue for modern musicians was instrument maker and musician Corwen Broch of Ancient Music, who began making them in 2007. What he freely admits is a tentative reconstruction made initially for the purposes of experimental music archaeology was based largely on Scandinavian bowed lyre design and the surviving written descriptions as discussed in the works of Otto Andersson.

In 2009 Corwen was commissioned to make a reconstruction for the Shetland Museum. In 2012 luthier Michael J. King asked to use Corwen’s design in a CD Rom of instrument plans. So far all subsequent interpretations of the instrument by other makers draw heavily on Corwen Broch’s initial design.

Citations: Bibliography: Andersson, Otto May, 1959; The Shetland Gue, the Welsh Crwth, and the Northern Bowed Harp The Galpin Society Journal, Vol. 12, pp. 102-102 Peter Cooke. The fiddle tradition of the Shetland Isles. CUP Archive, 1986 ISBN 0-521-26855-9, ISBN 978-0-521-26855-4. Pg 4. Peter Cooke. The fiddle tradition of the Shetland Isles. CUP Archive, 1986 ISBN 0-521-26855-9, ISBN 978-0-521-26855-4. Pg 5. Kate & Corwen – Ancient Music Instruments ;


Name: Zlobcoki.
Type: Chordophones > Lyres > Viols.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.7
Tuning: G / D / A / E
Country: Carpathian area [Podhale], Poland.
Region: Eastern Europe.

Description: The złóbcoki is a bowed fiddle smaller than the violin although played in the same manner. It is a musical instrument that has its origins in Podhale, Poland. The instrument existed till the end of the 19th century. The name Złóbcoki refers to the gouging of the instrument from one block of wood, others derive it from the cradle , or cradle.

Construction: The złóbcoki have a convex, oblong and narrow resonant body with a carved neck both the neck and body are carved from the same block. Differing from the violin in the highlander style from the Carpathian Mountains. They did not have a button holding the strings and lacking separate walls. At first the złóbcoki three strings, later a fourth one was added.

Citations: Bibliography: Websites: Polish Folk Instruments / Youtube Video [Złóbcoki Demonstration] ;


Name: Kikir.
Type: Chordophones > Spike > Fiddle.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.313.7
Country: Madyar Pradesh, India.
Region: South Asia.

Description: Three-string fiddle of Madhya Pradesh, India.

Construction: The kingri is also said to have a resonator box made from unglazed pottery [New Grove]. The kingri has a skin on a small unglazed clay body; It is pronounced as Kingli without abbreviation.

Citation: Bibliography: Stanley Sadie – New Grove Dictionary of Music Volume 2, Book G-O ;


Name: Sarinda.
Type: Chordophones > Lyres > Double > Chested.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.71
Specimen: One in collection.
Country: Many, India, Pakistan & Iran.
Region: South Asia.

Description: The sarinda in the following languages [Qeychek, sarang, sarinda; in Urdu sorud سوراخ, soruz سورج]. It is a double-chested is a bowed chordophone that is found through out India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran.

It is related in shape to the Nepalese sarinda. The name Qeycheck as applied to this instrument is used in Iran. In North Eastern India [Assam] the name bannam or sareja are used for an identically shaped musical instruments. In Baluchistan and neighbouring Sindh. The name sorundo  [سورانڈو as written in Urdu] is used. In Afghanistan this instrument is primarily played by the Pashtun and Balochi peoples. In Western Rajasthan the sarinda is only played by the Surnaiya Langas. It is played in accompaniment to aerophones mainly flutes or reed instruments [pungi].

Construction: It is made of sheesham wood [Dalbergia sissoo] and has eight strings. Parchment is stretched across the sound whole at the front of the instrument. Eight individual strings pass over the bridge.

Citations: Bibliography: Stanley Sadie – New Grove Dictionary Of Music, Page 297, 298; W. Ousley: Anecdotes of Indian Music, repr. in S.M. Tagore: Hindu Music from Various Authors (Calcutta, 1875, 2/1882/R1965: C. R. Day; The Music and Musical Instruments of Southern India and the Deccan [Dheli, 1891/R11977]; C. Sash; Die Musikinstrument Indiens and Indonesians [Berlin & Leipzig Germany, 1914, 2/1923]; K. S Kothari; Indian Folk Musical Instruments [New Dheli, 1968] – John Baily, Alastair Dick ;


Name: Maguhu.
Type: Chordophones > Spike > Fiddles > Huqins.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.313.7
Bayin: 絲 Silk.
Tuning: D / A.
Country: Guangxi Province, China.
Region: Far East Asia.

Description: The maguhu [in Chinese: Traditional 馬骨胡; simplified: 马骨胡; pinyin: mǎgǔhú] is a Chinese bowed string instrument in the huqin family of musical instruments. It is used in the ensemble that accompanies guiju [桂剧; Guangxi opera] and is also used in the bayin [八音] ensemble of the Zhuang people along with the tuhu, huluhu, sanxian, drums, cymbals and other instruments.

Etymology: The instrument’s name is derived from the Chinese words mǎ gǔ, meaning “horse bone,” and hú is short for huqin.The maguhu is used primarily by the Zhuang and Buyei peoples of the southern Chinese province of Guangxi.

Construction: The maguhu is classified as a huqin as it meets the basic criteria. Having a neck of 46 cm to 60 cm in length vertically inserted into the soundbox. The maguhu has two strings tuned to the interval of a fourth D and A. The sound box is made from the femur bone of a horse or alternatively a cow or mule. The front end of the sound box is covered with a membrane of snake, shark or frog skin. The end of the neck is carved in the shape of a horse’s head.

Citations: Websites: Chinese Language article from ;


Name: Zhonghu.
Type: Chordophones > Spike > Fiddle > Huqins.
Tuning: A / E or G / D.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.7
Bayin: 絲 Silk.
Country: China.
Region: Far East Asia.

Description: The zhonghu [in Chinese: 中胡, pinyin: zhōnghú] is a low-pitched Chinese bowed string instrument. Together with the erhu and gaohu, it is a member of the huqin family. It was developed in the 1940s as the alto member of the huqin family; similar in range to the European viola.

This was to increase the pitch range of the instruments used in a Chinese orchestra. The zhonghu is analogous with the erhu, but is slightly larger and lower pitched. Its body is covered on the playing end with snakeskin.

Tuning: The instrument has two strings, which are generally tuned to the interval of a fifth, to A and E or to G and D [this latter tuning equivalent to the violin’s lowest two strings].

Citations: Bibliography: Tsui Yingfang [archived from 14 May 2014]. The Concise Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, Volume 2. Routledge. p. 1119. ISBN 9781136095948 ;


Name: Haegeum.
Type: Chordophones > Spike > Fiddles.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.313.7
Country: Korea.
Region: Far East Asia.

Description: The haegeum [in Hangul: 해금 haegeum] It is also popularly known as kkangkkang-i [in Hangul: 깡깡이], kkaengkkaeng-i [in Hangul: 깽깽이], or aeng-geum [in Hangul: 앵금]. As such it is a traditional bowed vertically held stringed instrument played in Korea. The haegeum is one of the most widely played instruments in Korean music. It is used n court music as well as madagnori [commoner’s or ordinary people’s music].

History: Little recorded information exists about the exact era when the haegeum was introduced into Korea. According to several sources; references to the haegeum can be found in the hanlimbyeolgok [the unrhymed verse and songs of the royal scholars] made in the Goryeo dynasty, so it can be inferred that the haegeum has been played at least since then.

The sohaegeum [소해금] is a modernized fiddle with four strings, used only in North Korea and in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture in China.

Construction: The haegeum is made using eight sonorous materials within the Chinese classification system of music. The materials included are metal, stone, silk, bamboo, gourd, clay, hide, and wood, and so it is called paleum [eight sounds]. The haegeum is about 70 cm in length from body to tuning pegs. Each of the two pegs are 2.5 cm diameter 11 cm in length. The sound box or body has has a surface of paulownia [Paulownia tomentosa] wood at the front. The sound box is open at the rear. The pegs have spools which access string is wound.

Citations: Bibliography: Song Hyon ed. Akhak Kwebōm [Guide To The Study Of Music] Seoul, 1943 / R1975, 7-8am9a ; Chang Sa-Hun; Han’guk akki taegwan [Korean Musical Instruments] Seoul, 1969, p 611 ; Stanley Sadie ~ New Grove Dictionary of Music Book G to O Page 116 ; Websites: Doosan Encyclopedia / Haegeum [article] Translated from Korean in Google Translate ;

Tro U

Name: Tro U.
Type: Chordophones > Spike > Fiddles > Bowed.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.313.7
Country: Cambodia.
Region: South East Asia.

Description: The tro u [in Khmer: ទ្រអ៊ូ; also spelled tro ou] is a traditional instrument from Cambodia. It is similar to the Thai saw u and the Chinese yehu. Although the latter instrument has a wooden rather than animal skin face

Construction: It is a low-pitched, two-stringed vertical fiddle with a coconut shell body that has one end covered with animal skin. Its two strings are made of silk, gut, nylon, or metal, running over a bridge made of bamboo, wood, bone, ivory, or seashell.

Citations: Bibliography: Khean, Yun; Dorivan, Keo; Lina, Y; Lenna, Mao. Traditional Musical Instruments of Cambodia [PDF Download]. Kingdom of Cambodia: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. p. 59 ; Websites:


Name: Rubab.
Type: Chordophones > Lute.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.6
Tuning: C# / F# / B
Country: Many.
Region: Central Asia & South Asia.

Description: The Rubab, robab or rabab [Urdu: رباب‎, Hindi: रुबाब, Azerbaijani: Rübab, Turkish: Rübab, Persian: رُباب‎ rubāb, Tajik and Uzbek рубоб] is a double chested short-necked lute originating from central Afghanistan. Notably in India, the sarode is directly influenced from the basic design of the rubab although lacking frets.

Etymology: The etymology of the name rubab comes from the Rbab [in Arabic: رباب] is an Arabic word according to the Arabic diacritics, vowels between the consonants apart from the alif [aleph] are not written but articulates. Harakat or movement = inflection of vowels with Fatḥah similar to Acute accent Rabab [in Arabic: رَباب‎, with Kasrah Rebab [in Arabic: رِباب‎] and with Ḍammah Rubab or Robab [in Arabic: رُباب‎ . Henry George Farmer [1931: 104] distinguished the difference between the spellings of the name rabab and rubab. The first being a generic term for a variety of bowed lutes, while the latter covers a variety of plucked lutes.

History: The rubab is considered one of the two national instruments of Afghanistan the second instrument being the zerbaghali [goblet drum]. This instrument was disseminated during 18th Century; throughout the area that makes up the sub-continent namely India, Pakistan, Kashmir & Rajasthan. Although evidence of short necked lutes having barbed or double chested bodies was depicted since two millennia ago.

Construction: The rubab a plucked lute having a short neck and deep wedge shaped body this part is called the bowl or shell [in Persian: اسه] it is usually hand carved from mulberry wood [Morus L.] from the same piece of wood. An animal membrane usually goat, camel, etc. is stretched over the body completing the resonator. The bridge is usually made of bone having a set of very thin diameter holes to allow for the sympathetic strings to travel from the tail through the bridge. Three frets are tied onto the neck giving a chromatic scale.

This provides assistance in keeping the bridge upright. The playing strings also travel in parallel among the the sympathetic strings from tail to the friction tuning pegs located at the head stock. The head stock is carved from the same piece of wood as the body or badaneh [in Persian: بدنه]. Traditionally strings made from goat intestines were used although nylon is in common use. The tuning pegs or goshi [in Persian: گوشی‌‎] are carved separately during the manufacturing process of the rubab near the end of the assembly. They are affixed before the instrument is strung.

The components of the rubab are listed by their Persian names as follows.

Rubab Components
Romanized in Persian Description
1. Kasa اسه Bowl
2. Badaneh بدنه Body
3. Sina   Surface
4. Safeh سیده Side
5. Desteh دسته Neck
6. Parda Frets
7. Tar تار Strings
8. Shah Tar شاه تار Drone String
9. Bam بم Bass
9. Gushak گوشک Tuning Peg
10. Targir  String Holder
11.  Sar-e rubab  Peg Box
12. Post پست Membrane
13. Kharak Bridge
14. Mezrab مضراب‎ Plectrum
16. Sim-e barchak سیم ا برخاک Shortest String

Citations: Bibliography: Alastair Dick, Stanley Sadie – New Grove Dictionary of Music Vol. 3 Book P to Z Page 182 ; Abu’l Fazl: A’ in-i-akhbari [c1590] trans. H. Blochmann in The Imperial Musicians – Calcutta, 1873 2 /1927 ; Henry George Farmer [1931: 104] ; Allyn, Miner – Sitar and Sarod in the 18th and 19th Centuries 2004 Motilal Banarsidass Publications. p. 61. ISBN 9788120814936 ; Websites: Online Rubab ;