Type: Chordophones > Lutes.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.6
Bayin: 絲 Silk.
Region: Far East Asia.
Description: The yueqin or yue qin [in Chinese: 月琴, in pinyin yuèqín] formerly romanized as yüeh-ch‘in gekkin [げっきん or in kanji 月琴] laqin or la-ch‘in. The name derives from the characters [月 yue] meaning moon and [琴 qin] stringed instruments. It is a stringed instrument traditional to the Han Chinese. It is an important instrument in the Beijing opera orchestra, often taking the role of main melodic instrument in lieu of the bowed string section.
It is perhaps best known for its role in Beijing Opera music, but it is also an auxiliary instrument in several regional instrumental and opera ensembles both in northern and southern China. Prior to 1926, the yueqin was a prominent instrument in Cantonese instrumental ensembles. But it has since fallen out of its prominent position. It does not seem to be an instrument of choice in the conservatory and concert hall-based modern Chinese music movement.
The yueqin is historically relate to several Han Chinese lutes. The yueqin is historically related to several Han Chinese lutes, especially the qin qin, shuangqing and ruan. The qin qin has a long fretted neck, often only two or three strings, pitched about one octave lower than the yueqin and a scalloped or ‘plum blossom’ shaped resonating chamber about 90 cm in total length.
Construction: The yueqin is a composite lute that is made by joining together a flat circular resonator, a neck of a short length and a pegbox. Usually the yueqin has four strings whose courses are doubled. It is tuned if in fifths. Analogous to related instruments such as the qin qin. Both instruments share the feature of raised frets.
The circular hoop of wood that constitutes the sidewall of the resonator is slightly less than two inches deep and its soundboard and back are two thinly-shaven, glued-on wooden boards. Near the bottom of the soundboard there is a firmly attached string fastener that doubles as a bridge. The fretted fingerboard is only four inches or 10 cm in length and terminates with a wood nut.
The pegbox is carved from the same piece of wood as the neck. It has two large friction pegs penetrating it from each side. The pegbox is capped with a simple ornamental piece of wood. Nine frets are glued onto the fingerboard and the six frets on the soundboard. One end of each of the instrument’s four nylon [traditionally silk] strings is looped around a tuning peg, the other end is secured to the wooden bridge/string fastener on the soundboard.
Citations: Bibliography: Huang, Jinpei 2002 “Ensemble: Guangdong Yinyue.” In The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music v. 7. East Asia. ed. Robert C. Provine, Yosihiko Tokumaru, and J. Lawrence Witzleben. New York: Routledge, pp. 217-221 Liang, Mingyue 1985. Music of the Billion: An Introduction to Chinese Musical Culture. New York: Heinrichshofen ; Thrasher, Alan R. 2000 Chinese Musical Instruments. Oxford: Oxford University Press ; 1984. “Yueqin [yueh-ch’in].” NGDMI v.3: 887 ; Websites: Yueqin / Grinnell College Of Musical Instrument Collection ; Grove Music Online / Yueqin Article by Alan R. Thrasher ;