Type: Lute > Chordophone.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.6
Pa Yin: Silk 絲
Regions: Far East Asia.
Dimensions: Scale length in cm.
Acquisition Source: Randy Raine-Reusch @ asza.com.
Description: The liuqin [in Chinese: 柳琴, p liǔqín] is a four-stringed Chinese lute, having a pear shaped body. Through out history, the liuqin had gone by various names, firstly the liuyeqin [柳葉琴], meaning willow-leaf-shaped instrument. This was the original term for the liuqin, which is visibly an abbreviation of the term liuyeqin. The other reference to the liuqin is the tu pipa [土琵琶], literally meaning unrefined pipa, because of the aforementioned diminutive size and resemblance of the liuqin to the pipa.
Origins: The liuqin evolved over time since its debut in Dynastic China and Qing Dynasty China. The two-stringed liuqin remained in use for much of dynastic China from the Qing Dynasty until the late 20th century. This version had two strings, and was only used for accompaniment purposes in traditional operas, as mentioned before. The earliest precursor of the modern four-stringed version of the instrument appeared and experienced popularity during the Qing Dynasty.
With the modernization of traditional Chinese music in the 1970s, the four-stringed liuqin was developed as an improvement to its musical range, and the body of the instrument was enlarged to allow the player to handle the instrument with greater ease.