The jaw-harp is a lamellaphone instrument, consisting of a flexible metal or bamboo tongue or reed attached to a frame. The tongue/reed is placed in the performer’s mouth and plucked with the finger to produce a note.

Each instrument produces usually produces one pitch only, with its multiples (overtones). Although the kouxian (as played in mainland China) is capable of playing five tones. This is achieved by tuning five individual jaw-harps the pentatonic scale and tying them together so they can be played as a single instrument.

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