Category Archives: Spike



Name: Masenqo.
Type: Chordophone > Spike > Lute > Monochord > Bowed.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.311
Country: Ethiopia & Eritrea.
Region: Africa.

Description: The mesenqo [also spelled mesenko, mesenqo, mesenko, mesinko or mesinqo in Amharic] or chira-wata [in Tigrinya] it is called in neighbouring Eritrea. It is the main instruments to accompany vocals, among the azmaris. Although it functions in a purely accompaniment capacity in songs, the masenqo requires considerable virtuosity.

Construction: It is a single stringed bowed monochord spike fiddle having square shaped body in which a shaft having a single friction tuning peg is inserted. Horse hair travels from tail end to the tuning peg. A loose moveable bridge is placed in between the string and body. Although the string travels through a drilled hole just beneath the top of the bridge.

Citations: Bibliography: Shelemay, Kay Kaufman, Stanley Sadie, John Tyrrell, [eds.] The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. viii [2 ed.] 2001 London: Macmillan. pp. 355–356 ; Websites: Youtube Video of Man Playing Mesenqo ;


Name: Leiqin.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Spike > Huqins > Bowed.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.7
Bayin: 絲 Silk.
Inventor: Wang Dianyu.
Country: China.
Region: Far East Asia.

Description: The Leiqin [in Chinese: 擂琴 or 擂琴 ; in Pinyin: léiqín, literal translation means “thundering instrument”] is also called leihu, which appeared during the 1920s. It was designed by a civilian artist named Wang Dianyu in imitation of another kind of musical instrument named zhuihu. He was born in a poor family in Shandong province.

History: When he was young, he went blind from smallpox. However, he showed diligence and talent in learning to perform many musical instruments including zhuihu. At the end of the 1920s, he made great changes to zhuihu. The shaft was lengthened. The length of the body was expanded, which was covered with the skin of boa. The new instrument became louder and the range was increased. In 1953, it was called “leiqin” formally.

At the end of the 1920s, he made great changes to the pre-existing zhuihu. The shaft was lengthened, and the sound box was expanded. Whose membrane was boa skin was then applied. The new instrument became louder, and the range was increased. In 1953, it was called “leiqin” formally.

Playing Techniques: The performers should sit while playing. The canister is put on the left leg, with the left hand pressing the strings and a bow in the right hand plucking. In most cases, the performer uses his or her index finger and the third finger to press the strings. The Leiqin has a wide range, a high volume and a soft tone.

It can perform solo, concert and in ensemble. Additionally, it can produce sound in imitation of human voices, arias of the Chinese operas, calling of the animals and the sound effect of the orchestral and percussion instruments such as the urhien, gong, drum and so on.

Construction: The instrument is assembled of five parts. The shaft, head and tuning page are made of hardwood. The head is like a shovel. The surface of the tuning page is carved. The canister is made of copperplate. The bow is longer than that of the urhien. There are two specifications of leiqin. The longer instrument measures at 110 cm at the length of the neck from sound body to head-stock. While the the shorter sized leiqin is measured at 90 cm in length.

Usually, the instrument is tuned according to the preferences of the performers. There may be three and half octaves within the range. The range of the small leiqin is the same as the big one, which is one octave higher than the latter.

Citations: Websites: Leiqin article / wayback machine ;


Name: Pena.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Spike > Bowed.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.7
Country: Manipur, India.
Region: South Asia.

Description: The [in Meetei: ꯄꯦꯅꯥ Pena ; in Tangkhul or Naga Language ; Tingtelia] is a mono string instrument falling in the lute category, similar to some of the traditional Indian stringed musical instruments such as Ravanahatha, Ubo or the Kenda that found in various parts of the country.

Etymology: It is generally believed that the name of the instrument is a derivation of the ancient Meetei term, Pena sheijing Pena. The Nagas call the instrument, Tingtelia. It is the traditional music instrument of the Meetei community of Manipur, India. The Pena is also found in some regions in Bangladesh. It is played either solo or in group, in folk music or as the accompanying musical instrument for Lai Haraoba festivals.

Pena playing is becoming a dying art as only 145 active Pena players are reported in Manipur. The Center for Research on Traditional and Indigenous Art [Laihui], an organization headed by renowned Pena player, Khangembam Mangi Singh has mandated a vision to revive Pena music.

History: The Pena, considered to be one of the oldest Meetei musical instruments, was once believed to be a part of luxurious living and was played at the royal gatherings. However, the instrument slowly got associated with the folk culture of Manipur and Bangladesh where its presence became regular during festivals. Manipuri festival of Lai Haraoba fostered the use of the instrument considerably. Later, it also made its presence in the folk theatre.

Pena Repertoire
 Names Type
1. Yaikairol Morning
2. Lai-eekouba Festivals
3. Khunung-Eesei Folk
4. Luhongba Marriage
5. Wari -Liba Narrating Story
6. PuYa Paba PuYa

Construction: The instrument consist of two parts, the main body, penamasa or dhorr which is similar to that of a violin and the bow, pena cheijing or chorr, which is more resembling an archery bow than a violin bow. The main body is made out of a length of bamboo ranging from 25.4 cm or 10 inches to 27.94 cm or 11 inches long and 2.54 cm or 1 inch to 3.175 cm or 1.25 inches girth.

The girth is affixed to a coconut shell that is cut in half. Through two holes bore through the shell. Two additional holes are also drilled on the coconut shell for acoustic purposes. One of which is covered by dried animal skin such as iguana skin and the other, left open.

The tension of the string is controlled by a bamboo peg, called kaan and is fitted inside a hole drilled on the bamboo rod. A scroll, mogra, is also tied to the instrument tail. The bow is wooden and bears a curved flourish at one end which is made of metal. In some parts, the bow also features tiny metal bells. The string is traditionally made of horse hair but, sometimes, metal strings and strings made out of wood fibre are also used.

Citations: Bibliography: Websites: [Youtube] Pena Demonstration – Pena being revived in Manipur, India ;


Name: Chiwang.
Type: Chordophones > Spike > Lutes.
Hornbostel Sachs No#: 321.313.7
Country: Bhutan.
Region: South Asia.

Description: The chiwang [in Dzongkha : སྤྱི་དབང་; Wylie: spyi-dbang]. It is a type of spike-fiddle played in Bhutan. The chiwang, the lingm [flute] and the dramyen [lute] comprise the basic instrumental inventory for traditional Bhutanese folk music.

Although the chiwang is considered typically Bhutanese, it is a variety of the piwang a Tibetan two-stringed fiddle. It is heavily associated with boedra, one of two dominant genres of Bhutanese folk music, in which it symbolizes a horse.

Citations: Bibliography: Kinga, Sonam 2003. “The Attributes and Values of Folk and Popular Songs” [PDF]. Journal of Bhutan Studies. 3 [1]: 132–170. Retrieved 2011-10-30. Dorji, C. T 1994. History of Bhutan Based on Buddhism – Sangay Xam; Prominent Publishers. p. 15. ISBN 81-86239-01-4. Retrieved 2011-10-30. Clements, William M. 2006 ; The Greenwood Encyclopedia of World Folklore and Folklife: Southeast Asia and India, Central and East Asia, Middle East. 2. Greenwood Press. pp. 106–110. ISBN 0-313-32849-8. Retrieved 2011-10-16 ;


Name: Ravanahatha.
Type: Chordophone > Lute > Spike > Bowed.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.7
Tuning: Often in C [Sa].
Country: Asia.
Region: South Asia.

Description: A ravanahatha [in Hindi: रावणहाथा raavanahaatha] whose variant names include: ravanhatta, rawanhattha, ravanastron, ravana hasta veena. It is a bowed instrument of ancient origins. It is played in Rajasthan India and Sri Lanka. In Indian and Sri Lankan tradition, the ravanahatha is believed to have originated among the Tamil and Hela people of Lanka during the time of the legendary king Ravana, after whom the instrument is supposedly named.

According to legend, Ravana used the ravanahatha in his devotions to the Hindu God Shiva. In the Hindu Ramayana epic, after the war between Rama and Ravana, Hanuman returned to North India with a ravanahatha. The ravanahatha is particularly popular among street musicians in Rajasthan, North India.

Construction: The Ravanahatha is a bowed lute having a small sized body who has a shaft is inserted. The Ravanahatha has 10 indavidual sympathetic strings in addition to the two playing strings. In Sri Lanka Ravanhatta’s are constructed with only three playing strings although much in the same approach as its Rajasthani counterpart. 

Citations: Bibliography: Choudhary S. Dhar 2010. The Origin and Evolution of Violin as a Musical Instrument and Its Contribution to the Progressive Flow of Indian Classical Music: In search of the historical roots of violin – Ramakrisna Vedanta Math – ISBN 9380568061 ; Balachandran, PK 7 February 2011 – A musical instrument played by Ravana Himself! ; New Indian Express. Retrieved 1 May 2013 ;  The Sunday Times, Sri Lanka, 8 March 2015 ; Dinesh records highest sale for an instrumental. Retrieved 16 July 2015 ; 


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

Description: Three-string bowed lute of Madhya Pradesh, India.

Construction: The kingri is also said to have a resonator box made from unglazed pottery. 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: Bana.
Type: Chordophones > Spike > Lute.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.313.7
Country: Madhya Pradesh, India.
Region: South Asia.

Description: A three string spike lute of Madhya Pradesh [Mandla District] in India. In the central Mandla province, the bana is played by the Pardhan to accompany their repertoire of religious ballads. The Pardhan are the genealogist bards of the Gond, who were once sovereigns of the powerful kingdom of Gondwana.

Construction: It is about 70 cm in length, it is made of a prism shaped sound box of mango wood, covered with. Membrane from a calfs stomach. The strings are made of horse hair. The neck inserted into the body is made from bamboo. The strings are stretched from the bottom of the shaft holding the instrument together, to the tuning pegs at the top. A bridge supports the strings from underneath the strings.

Citations: Bibliography: S. Hivle and V. Elwin; Songs of the Forest: The folk poetry of the Gonds London, 1935 ; S. Hivale – The Pardhans of the Upper Narbada Valley London, 1946 ; C. Von Fürer-Haimendorf: The Bards of the Raj Gonds, Eastern Anthropologist, iv 1950-51, Pp. 172, Genevieve Dournon ; Stanley Sadie – New Grove Dictionary of Music, Banam p. 119 ;


Name: Dihu.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Spike > Huqins > Bowed.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.7
Bayin: 絲 Silk.
Country: China.
Region: Far East Asia.

Description: The [in Chinese 低胡, in pinyin: dīhú] is a large bowed string instrument from China. It has a large sound box covered on one end with snakeskin. Like most other members of the huqin family of instruments, it has two strings and is held vertically. The instrument’s name derives from “dī,” meaning “low” and “hú” short for huqin.

History: The dihu family was developed for orchestral use in the 1930s as lower sounding bass members of the erhu family. The erhu being the “soprano” member and the zhonghu being the alto member to increase the pitch range of the instruments used in a Chinese orchestra an to allow music with harmony to be played.

However, by the late 20th century it had largely fallen into disuse. A part of the reason being that it is unwieldy to play. As the bow passes between the instrument’s two strings means that playing pizzicato is difficult. In Chinese orchestras the larger gehu and diyingehu or cello or double bass are favoured due in part to the accessibility of strings when the instruments are played.

The xiaodihu [小低胡] also called dahu or cizhonghu. It is pitched one octave below the erhu tuned D / A with its lowest D one whole step above the viola’s lowest C. It is the tenor member of the erhu family; the erhu being the soprano member and the zhonghu being the alto member.

The zhongdihu [中低胡] pitched one octave below the zhonghu, tuned G / D, as the middle strings of the cello. It is the bass member of the erhu family.

The dadihu [大低胡] pitched one octave below the xiaodihu and two octaves below the erhu; tuned D / A, with its lowest D one whole step above the cello’s lowest C. It is the contrabass member of the erhu family.

Dihu Tunings
Name Tuning
Xiaodihu [小低胡] D / A
Zhongdihu [中低胡] G / D
Dadihu [大低胡] D / A

Citations: Bibliography: Tsui Yingfai, 16 September 1998 “The Modern Chinese Folk Orchestra: A Brief History”. In Tsao Penyeh [ed.]. Tradition and Change in the Performance of Chinese Music, Part 2. Routledge. pp. 22–24. ISBN 978-9057550416 Websites:


Name: Banhu.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Spike > Huqins > Bowed.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.7
Bayin: 絲 Silk.
Country: China.
Region: Far East Asia.

Description: The banhu [in Chinese: 板胡, pinyin: bǎnhú] is a Chinese traditional bowed string instrument in the huqin family of instruments. It is used primarily in northern China. Ban means a piece of wood and hu is short for huqin.

The banhu is sometimes also called “banghu” because it is often used in bangzi opera of northern China, such as Qinqiang from Shaanxi province. Like its more familiar erhu counterpart the banhu also only has two strings. It is held vertically upright and the bow passes in between the two strings. The yehu, another type of Chinese fiddle with a coconut body and wooden face, is used primarily in southern China.

Construction: The banhu differs in construction from the erhu in that its soundbox is generally made from a coconut shell rather than wood, and instead of a snakeskin that is commonly used to cover the faces of huqin instruments, the banhu uses a thin wooden board.



Name: Bambir.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Viols > Bowed.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.313.7
Tuning: C G D A
Country: Armenia.
Region: Caucasus.

Description: The bambir [in Armenian: Բամբիռ bambir] is a cello that was invented in the early 1950s and named after the ancient Armenian instrument.

Construction: Similar in appearance to a Western cello to which this design is based off. The instrument is slightly smaller in size. The body is allowed out from a single piece of wood. The sound holes of the bambir are 7 cm in length and 2.5 cm in width. Has several added sound hole about 5 mm in diameter.

A thin animal membrane is stretched underneath the belly gives the bambir its distinctive timbre and a clean tone. The tone is closest to a muted cello although related in sound to the Persian Kamenche. The length o the body is 45 cm and the with varies from 29 cm at the base, 13 cm in the middle and 24 cm at the top.

Citations: Bibliography: Stanley Sadie – New Grove Dictionary of Music, Robert At’Ayan Balum, Page, 118 ;