Tag Archives: Chordophones



Name: Hummel.
Type: Chordophones > Zither > Box > Fretted.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 314.122.4
Country: Sweden.
Region: Scandinavia & Northern Europe.

Description: The hummel [or humle] is a plucked, fretted, zither; whose name is an onomatopoeic probably derived from the [Dutch “hommelen” to ‘hum’ or ‘buzz’]. It is used in the low countries adjacent parts of Germany and also in Scandinavia. This instrument has its origins in the Scheitholt and the French Epinet De Vosges whose examples from the 17th century greatly resemble.

Playing Techniques: The fretted strings are stopped ad all strings sounded by the same method. Using a small pencil-stub sized stick to produce the notes when plucking the strings. Sometimes the Hummel was played with a bow in Friesland and the Low Country region of Holland and Germany.

Construction: Over time, the shape and design of the hummel has evolved from trapeziform, rectangular and in the shape of a fiddle, viol or a half bottle. The fretting of the hummel is diatonic and also bares up to 12 extra bourdons arranged in double or triple courses and attached to metal wrist pins. The design is identical to the French, Epinet Des Vosges, Scheitholt and Hungarian citera.

Citations: Bibliography: K. Douwe: ondersoek Grondig van tonen der musijk, Franezer, 1699 / R 1971 ; S. Walin: Die Schwedische Hummel  / in English: The Swedish Hummel [Stockholm, 1953] ; F. J. de Han: Folk Instruments of Belgum, Part One, GSJm xxv 1972, 112 ;


Name: Suka.
Type: Chordophones > Lyres > Viols.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.7
Country: Poland.
Region: Eastern Europe.

Description: The suka or ‘Suka Kocudzka’ is bowed musical instrument that is in a shape of the violin. However like the Bulgarian gadulka it is played by resting the instrument vertically, while sitting on the knee. This was thought to be the “missing link” between the upside-down or “knee chordophone” instruments, and the modern violin. It died out, and was known only from drawings of a single specimen displayed at an exhibition in 1888.

Playing Techniques: The strings were stopped at the side with the fingernails; similar to the Gadulka.

Construction: Similar in appearance to the violin the suka is a bit more narrower in profile. A flat bridge and nut keep the strings taught for playing while the instrument is tuned. Seven tuning pegs are inserted at the top [peg box] of the instrument.

Citations: Bibliography: Websites: Polish Folk Instruments [Suka Page] ; Instrumenty z duszą”, odc. 11 – Suka biłgorajska / suka of Biłgoraj – Youtube [Video] ;


Name: Gue.
Type: Chordophones > Lyres > Bowl.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.22.71
Country: Shetland Islands.
Region: Scotland > Western Europe.

Description: The gue is an extinct type of two-stringed bowed lyre or zither from the Shetland Isles. The instrument was described in 1809 by Arthur Edmondston in view of the Ancient and Present State of the Shetland Islands: “Before violins were introduced, the musicians performed on an instrument called a gue. Which appears to have had some similarity to the violin, but had only two strings of horse hair.

The first person to recreate the Shetland gue for modern musicians was instrument maker and musician Corwen Broch of Ancient Music, who began making them in 2007. What he freely admits is a tentative reconstruction made initially for the purposes of experimental music archaeology was based largely on Scandinavian bowed lyre design and the surviving written descriptions as discussed in the works of Otto Andersson.

In 2009 Corwen was commissioned to make a reconstruction for the Shetland Museum. In 2012 luthier Michael J. King asked to use Corwen’s design in a CD Rom of instrument plans. So far all subsequent interpretations of the instrument by other makers draw heavily on Corwen Broch’s initial design.

Citations: Bibliography: Andersson, Otto May, 1959; The Shetland Gue, the Welsh Crwth, and the Northern Bowed Harp The Galpin Society Journal, Vol. 12, pp. 102-102 Peter Cooke. The fiddle tradition of the Shetland Isles. CUP Archive, 1986 ISBN 0-521-26855-9, ISBN 978-0-521-26855-4. Pg 4. Peter Cooke. The fiddle tradition of the Shetland Isles. CUP Archive, 1986 ISBN 0-521-26855-9, ISBN 978-0-521-26855-4. Pg 5. Kate & Corwen – Ancient Music Instruments ;


Name: Zlobcoki.
Type: Chordophones > Lyres > Viols.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.7
Tuning: G / D / A / E
Country: Carpathian area [Podhale], Poland.
Region: Eastern Europe.

Description: The złóbcoki is a bowed fiddle smaller than the violin although played in the same manner. It is a musical instrument that has its origins in Podhale, Poland. The instrument existed till the end of the 19th century. The name Złóbcoki refers to the gouging of the instrument from one block of wood, others derive it from the cradle , or cradle.

Construction: The złóbcoki have a convex, oblong and narrow resonant body with a carved neck both the neck and body are carved from the same block. Differing from the violin in the highlander style from the Carpathian Mountains. They did not have a button holding the strings and lacking separate walls. At first the złóbcoki three strings, later a fourth one was added.

Citations: Bibliography: Websites: Polish Folk Instruments / Youtube Video [Złóbcoki Demonstration] ;


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 [New Grove]. 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: Sarinda.
Type: Chordophones > Lyres > Double > Chested.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.71
Specimen: One in collection.
Country: Many, India, Pakistan & Iran.
Region: South Asia.

Description: The sarinda in the following languages [Qeychek, sarang, sarinda; in Urdu sorud سوراخ, soruz سورج]. It is a double-chested is a bowed chordophone that is found through out India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran.

It is related in shape to the Nepalese sarinda. The name Qeycheck as applied to this instrument is used in Iran. In North Eastern India [Assam] the name bannam or sareja are used for an identically shaped musical instruments. In Baluchistan and neighbouring Sindh. The name sorundo  [سورانڈو as written in Urdu] is used. In Afghanistan this instrument is primarily played by the Pashtun and Balochi peoples. In Western Rajasthan the sarinda is only played by the Surnaiya Langas. It is played in accompaniment to aerophones mainly flutes or reed instruments [pungi].

Construction: It is made of sheesham wood [Dalbergia sissoo] and has eight strings. Parchment is stretched across the sound whole at the front of the instrument. Eight individual strings pass over the bridge.

Citations: Bibliography: Stanley Sadie – New Grove Dictionary Of Music, Page 297, 298; W. Ousley: Anecdotes of Indian Music, repr. in S.M. Tagore: Hindu Music from Various Authors (Calcutta, 1875, 2/1882/R1965: C. R. Day; The Music and Musical Instruments of Southern India and the Deccan [Dheli, 1891/R11977]; C. Sash; Die Musikinstrument Indiens and Indonesians [Berlin & Leipzig Germany, 1914, 2/1923]; K. S Kothari; Indian Folk Musical Instruments [New Dheli, 1968] – John Baily, Alastair Dick ;


Name: Maguhu.
Type: Chordophones > Spike > Fiddles > Huqins.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.313.7
Bayin: 絲 Silk.
Tuning: D / A.
Country: Guangxi Province, China.
Region: Far East Asia.

Description: The maguhu [in Chinese: Traditional 馬骨胡; simplified: 马骨胡; pinyin: mǎgǔhú] is a Chinese bowed string instrument in the huqin family of musical instruments. It is used in the ensemble that accompanies guiju [桂剧; Guangxi opera] and is also used in the bayin [八音] ensemble of the Zhuang people along with the tuhu, huluhu, sanxian, drums, cymbals and other instruments.

Etymology: The instrument’s name is derived from the Chinese words mǎ gǔ, meaning “horse bone,” and hú is short for huqin.The maguhu is used primarily by the Zhuang and Buyei peoples of the southern Chinese province of Guangxi.

Construction: The maguhu is classified as a huqin as it meets the basic criteria. Having a neck of 46 cm to 60 cm in length vertically inserted into the soundbox. The maguhu has two strings tuned to the interval of a fourth D and A. The sound box is made from the femur bone of a horse or alternatively a cow or mule. The front end of the sound box is covered with a membrane of snake, shark or frog skin. The end of the neck is carved in the shape of a horse’s head.

Citations: Websites: Chinese Language article from e56.com.cn ;


Name: Zhonghu.
Type: Chordophones > Spike > Fiddle > Huqins.
Tuning: A / E or G / D.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.7
Bayin: 絲 Silk.
Country: China.
Region: Far East Asia.

Description: The zhonghu [in Chinese: 中胡, pinyin: zhōnghú] is a low-pitched Chinese bowed string instrument. Together with the erhu and gaohu, it is a member of the huqin family. It was developed in the 1940s as the alto member of the huqin family; similar in range to the European viola.

This was to increase the pitch range of the instruments used in a Chinese orchestra. The zhonghu is analogous with the erhu, but is slightly larger and lower pitched. Its body is covered on the playing end with snakeskin.

Tuning: The instrument has two strings, which are generally tuned to the interval of a fifth, to A and E or to G and D [this latter tuning equivalent to the violin’s lowest two strings].

Citations: Bibliography: Tsui Yingfang [archived from 14 May 2014]. The Concise Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, Volume 2. Routledge. p. 1119. ISBN 9781136095948 ;


Name: Haegeum.
Type: Chordophones > Spike > Fiddles.
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]. As such it is a traditional bowed vertically held stringed instrument played in Korea. The haegeum is one of the most widely played instruments in Korean music. It is used n 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. According to several sources; references to the haegeum can be found in the hanlimbyeolgok [the unrhymed verse and songs of the royal scholars] made in 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 is made using eight sonorous materials within the Chinese classification system of music. The materials included are metal, stone, silk, bamboo, gourd, clay, hide, and wood, and so it is called paleum [eight sounds]. The haegeum is about 70 cm in length from body to tuning pegs. Each of the two pegs are 2.5 cm diameter 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.

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 ;

Tro U

Name: Tro U.
Type: Chordophones > Spike > Fiddles > Bowed.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.313.7
Country: Cambodia.
Region: South East Asia.

Description: The tro u [in Khmer: ទ្រអ៊ូ; also spelled tro ou] is a traditional instrument from Cambodia. It is similar to the Thai saw u and the Chinese yehu. Although the latter instrument has a wooden rather than animal skin face

Construction: It is a low-pitched, two-stringed vertical fiddle with a coconut shell body that has one end covered with animal skin. Its two strings are made of silk, gut, nylon, or metal, running over a bridge made of bamboo, wood, bone, ivory, or seashell.

Citations: Bibliography: Khean, Yun; Dorivan, Keo; Lina, Y; Lenna, Mao. Traditional Musical Instruments of Cambodia [PDF Download]. Kingdom of Cambodia: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. p. 59 ; Websites: