Tag Archives: Bowed



Name: Gehu.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Spike > Huqins > Bowed.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.7
Bayin: 絲 Silk.
Tuning: C G D A
Inventor: Yang Yusen 杨 雨 森 [1926 – d. 1980].
Country: China.
Region: Far East Asia.

Description: The gehu [in Chinese; 革胡 in pinyin: géhú] is a Chinese instrument developed in the 20th century by the Chinese musician Yang Yusen [杨 雨 森, b. 1926 d. 1980]. It is a hybrid of the Chinese Huqin family and cello. The four string of the gehu are tuned the same as the cello C / G / D / A. Unlike most of the bowed instruments in the huqin family. Bridge does not come into contact with the snakeskin which faces the other side.

A contrabass version of the gehu also exists; it functions as a double bass. Known as the diyingehu, digehu or beigehu [倍 革 胡]. By the late 20th century the gehu had become a rare instrument, even within China.

There is a tendency for the snakeskin to lose its tightness increases with humidity. Today, it is used mostly in Hong Kong and Taiwan, although even there, the cello is beginning to become a popular replacement for it.

Citations: Bibliography: Websites: Wayback Machine / Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra ;


Name: Ukelin.
Type: Chordophones > Zithers > Box > Fretless.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 314.122.6
Patent No#: 1,579,780 Paul F. Richter, 1924
Country: United States.
Region: North America.

Description: The ukelin is a bowed zither with multiple number of strings made popular in the 1920s. It is meant to be a hybrid of the violin and ukulele.

History: The history of the ukelin is hard to trace, since there were several instruments resembling the ukelin that were produced in the 1920s. Paul F. Richter filed the first known ukelin patent in December 1924, it was granted in April 1926. The Phonoharp Company, which merged with Oscar Schmidt, Inc.

Due to the issue of overlapping patents the it is unclear as to the confirmation of the inventor. The patent that was filed by John Large, was not granted until after Richter’s patent had already been given. Another similar instrument had a patent filed by Walter Schmidt in 1925. Because of these patents filed one after the other it is unclear who really invented the first ukelin.

Citations: Websites: Google Patents “Stringed Musical Instruments, US 15797800 A” ; The Ukelin and Related Instruments ; Smithsonian Encyclopedia / Ukelin ; Ukulin / Hoboken Historical Museum – Online Collections Database ;

Karadeniz Kemençesi

Name: Karadeniz Kemençesi.
Type: Chordophones > Lyres > Lyra > Bowed.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.321.71
Luthier: Bagdat Saz-Evi, Izmir Turkey.
Country: Turkey & Georgia, Armenia.
Region: Asia, Caucasus.

Description: The Kemençe of the Black Sea [Turkish: Karadeniz kemençesi, Greek Pontic kemenche] or Pontiaki lyra [Ποντιακή λύρα], Laz Çilili [ჭილილი] or Armenian Qamani [Քամանի] is a bottle-shaped bowed lute found in the Black Sea region of Turkey [Pontus] and neighbouring adjacent countries of Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as in Greece. It is also known as the “kementche of Laz”. The name kemençe comes from Iranian Music Instrument Kamenche. It is similar in appearance to the “Kit Violin” or “Pocket Violin”.

Playing Techniques: The strings are depressed onto the neck of the instrument by the player’s finger tips in the way violin strings are pressed, such as the large Cappadocian kemane. It is played in the downright position, either by resting it on the knee when sitting, or held in front of the player when standing. It is always played “braccio”, that is, with the tuning head uppermost.

The musicians usually play two or all three strings at the same time, utilizing the open strings as a drone. Sometimes they play the melody on two strings, giving a harmony in parallel fourths. They tend to play with many trills and embellishments and with unusual harmonies.

Construction: The kemenche bow is called the yay [in Turkish: Yay] and the doksar [in Greek: δοξάρι: doksar] the Greek term for bow. The kemençe is similar to a kit violin, as it allows for the violinist to dance while playing.

Citations: Bibliography: Websites: Islam Ansiklopedisi [Islam Encyclopedia – in Turkish] ; 


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: Haegeum.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Spike > Fiddles > Bowed.
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]. The haegeum is a traditional bowed and vertically held stringed instrument that is played in Korea. The haegeum is one of the most widely played instruments in Korean music. It is used in 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. Although the haegeum is documented in several sources including the Akhak Gwebeom. It was also documented in hanlimbyeolgok [the unrhymed verse and songs of the royal scholars] also published during 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 constructed from using eight sonorous materials within the Chinese classification system of music. The materials included are metal, stone, silk, bamboo, gourd, clay, hide, and wood. The overall length of the haegeum from body, neck to head stock measures in length to about 70 cm. Each of the two pegs are 2.5 cm in diameter and 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.

The wood used in the construction of the haegeum quince tree, mulberry tree, large sized bamboo or xylosma tree, mulberry tree, large sized bamboo or shiny xylosma. The middle plate called ‘bokpan’ consists of eucommia bark or paulownia tree. The neck [called ‘ipjuk’] is made of dark coloured bamboo [烏斑竹] with many joints, and it is attached on a sound box with a cast iron stick inserted through it. The surrounding part of holes for ‘jua [two small sticks to tune strings]’ is covered with silver or a pisolite [an alloy or a zinc].

The surrounding region in where the holes for the tuning pegs is called the “jua” is covered with silver or a pisolite [alloy].  The jung-hyeon [inside string] is a thicker diameter than the yoo-hyeon [outside string]. With a thin leather or a string [called ‘chaeseung’], from about 2 cm below ‘jua’, the two strings ‘yoo-hyeon’.

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 ; Haegeum in print [.pdf] translated from the original text, sampled is a page on the haegeum described in the Akhak Gwebeom ;


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

Description: A three string spike fiddle 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: Joze.
Type: Chordophones > Spike > Fiddle > Bowed.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.7
Country: Iraq.
Region: Middle East.

Description: A four stringed spike fiddle of Iraq. Formally the joze [in Arabic: ] known as the kamana al-bghdadiyya. The joze is used to accompany urban Arabic classical music. It is the lead instrument of the chalghi Baghdadi ensemble, following the santur [hammered dulcimer], daff and dumbek. Recently the joze is played solo and more rarely in newly created ensembles, the technique of this instrument is formerly orally taught.

Joze Tunings
G / D / G / C
C / G / D / A

Construction: It is between the length of 60 cm to 75 cm. Having a small resonator made from a hollowed-out-coconut [a similar manner of assembly to the Egyptian rebebe]. The over all size and shape of this instrument depends on the size of the coconut. The skin of a membrane from a lamb-skin is used to cover the sound whole completing the resonator for the instrument. The diameter of the membrane is approximately 5 cm to 7 cm.

The opposite opening sound hole located at the back of the coconut is 10 cm to 13 cm in diameter. A bridge is inserted underneath the four strings. The strings travel from the bottom of the instrument where a spike is located to where the nut and tuning pegs are located. Four tuning pegs are installed into the head stock of the instrument. A capo Tasso made of thread is used to raise the tuning to suite the singers voice.

Citations: Bibliography: S. Qassim Hassan: Les Instrument de musique en Irak et leur rôle dans la société traditionnelle, Paris 1980 ; Scherazade Qassim Hassan, Stanley Sadie New Grove Dictionary Of Music, Book A to F, pages 333-334 ;  Websites:


Name: Ravanahatha.
Type: Chordophone > Lute > Spike > Fiddle > 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.


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 ;