Tag Archives: Lutes



Name: Niutuiqin.
Type: Chordophones > Spike > Fiddles > Huqins > Bowed.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.7
Country: China.
Region: Far East Asia.

Description: The niubaqin [牛腿琴] or niutuiqin [牛巴腿] is a traditional Chinese bowed string instrument. It is a two-stringed fiddle and is used by the Yi and Dong people of Guizhou. Its current physical appearance is not all that dissimilar to the European rebec. They are not related to one another. It is held as if it were cradled in the left arm for support and bowed with the right hand.

The niutuiqin named for its slender shape resembling a cow’s thigh. The proverb is called “Guiji”. also known as “Niuba Leg”, which is mainly used for sang folk songs and accompaniment. Popular in Guizhou Province, Southeast Guizhou Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture. Among the Yi people the niutuiqin plays an important role. The Dai song and the narrative song are inseparable from the ox leg. The niutuiqin is a musical instrument specially used by unmarried young people for courtship.

When young men and women first love, the young man will climb the wooden staircase in the middle of the night, climb to the attic. Courtship melodies performed on this instrument and it is also performed during weddings. The ensemble of the ox leg and the pipa can convey a warm and festive atmosphere.

Construction: The niutuiqin is traditionally carved from the leg of an ox, the body is made of a single piece of wood. A peg box, two tuning pegs stretched out on either side. They are inserted into the peg box. The back of the niutuiqin carved from the end of the half of the log. It is dug out of the long scoop-shaped abdominal cavity, and the thin plate is formed on the surface to form a resonance box. The total length is usually between 50 cm and 85 cm.

The preferred wood is Chinese fir with texture and straight knots. It is also made of paulownia, pine, eucalyptus and poplar. The preferred wood is Chinese fir with texture and straight knots. It is also made of paulownia, pine, eucalyptus and poplar. In addition, there is a small version of the niutuiqin the body is only 18 cm ~ 20 cm in length, popular in the Leli area of ​​Qijiang County, Guizhou Province.

The head is in the shape of a square column and the flat top is not decorated; each side of the string groove is provided with a hardwood peg or the right side. The front of the neck is flat and round. The body, neck and head box are then connected. 2/3rds below the panel is provided with a bamboo or wooden bridge-shaped bridge and the lower end is provided. Strings are traditionally from gut.

Citations: Bibliography: Websites: qinyixue.com / Niutuiqin [Translated; by Google translate];

Jing Erhu

Name: Jing Erhu.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Spike > Fiddles > Huqins.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.7
Country: China.
Region: Far East Asia.

Description: The Jing Erhu [in Chinese: 京二胡; in pinyin: jīng’èrhú] is a Chinese two-stringed bowed musical instrument in the huqin family of instruments. Similar to the erhu. It is so named because it is used in jing xi or Beijing opera. It is lower in pitch than the jinghu, which is the leading melodic instrument in the Beijing opera orchestra, and is considered a supporting instrument to the jinghu.

The jing erhu has a wooden body and neck. It is played vertically, with the body resting on the player’s left thigh and the horsehair of the bow passing between the two strings. It previously used silk strings, but since the 1960s has more commonly used steel strings.

The jing erhu was popularized in the 1920s by Wang Shaoqing [王少卿], a musician in the troupe of Mei Lanfang.

Citations: Bibliography: Websites:


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: 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 ; 


Name: Bouzouki.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes.
Hornbostel Sachs No#: 321.312.6
Country: Greece.
Region: South Europe & Mediterranean.
Specimen: 1 in collection.
Luthier: Manolis Paraskeyas.
Acquisition Source: Paul Kikuris, Bouzouki.org

Description: Bouzouki [in Greek: μπουζούκι pronounced in IPA: buˈzuci] plural bouzoukia in Greek; μπουζούκια]. Originally introduced into Greece during the 1900’s, by Greek Immigrants from Asia Minor. Outside of Rebetika, the bouzouki enjoys popularity in Irish music since the 1960s Irish folk revival.

Tunings: The bouzouki is played with a plectrum, it has a clean, sharp metallic tone. There are two types of bouzouki; the trikordia being a 3 course 6 stringed lute that is tuned not unlike a saz D / A / D or D / G / D or tetrakordia; being an 4 course 8 stringed instrument. The trikordia is the original form of bouzouki. The tuning most commonly used as a standard is a reentrant C / F / A / D tuning that is measured a whole tone below D / G / B / E the four bottom strings of a guitar.

Bouzouki Tunings
Name Type Tunings
Trikordia 3 course / 6 string D A D
Trikordia 3 course / 6 string D G D
Trikordia 3 course / 6 string D A E
Tetrakordia 4 course / 8 string C G A D
Tetrakordia 4 course / 8 string A D A D
Tetrakordia 4 course / 8 string G D G D

Citations: Bibliography: Songs Of The Greek Underworld by Elias Petrapoulas, The Rebetika Tradition. Translated from Greek by Ed Emery ISBN 0 86356 368 6 Saqi Books, 26 Westbourne Grove London W2 5RH ;


Name: Bulgari.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.6
Country: Crete, Greece.
Region: South Europe.

Description: The bulgari or [in Greek: μπουλγαρ] is a string instrument that originates from Turkey, especially from Anatolia among the Oghuz Turks living in the Taurus Mountains, similar to the bağlama and the çağür. The Bulgari belongs to the family of tambûr [long necked lutes] an instrument class that started in early Mesopotamia, which started to spread in the Ottoman Empire approximately around 14th-century.

The French musicologist William André Villoteau mentioned in his journal an instrument with two strings existing in Cairo called the tanbour boulghari or bulgarie. The bulgari proceeded to implant itself into Greek culture through Crete when refugees came from Anatolia in 1920, although a type of bulgari seems to have existed in the 19th-century among Christian and Muslim populations.

Citations: Bibliography: Laurence Picken, Folk musical instruments of Turkey, Oxford University Press, 1975, p. 276-278 Observation reported by Turkish professor Ali Raza Yalgin, in his work from 1940 ; WEBMAN.gr. “Stefanakis Antonis – Zaros, Crete”. www.stefanakis-antonis.gr. Mid-East Saz Owners Manual Villoteau, William 1807 ; Recherches sur l’analogie de la musique avec les arts qui ont pour objet l’imitation du langage – Librairie Imperial ; Facaros, Dana 2003 Crete. New Holland Publishers. p. 61 ;


Name: Oudola.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.6
Country: Greece.
Region: Mediterranean & Asia Minor.

Description: The Oudola is a stringed musical instrument. It is said to have been custom-built for Agapios Tomboulis, according to his own specifications. He combined the words oud and mandola, and named it oudola.



Name: Ahenk.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.6
Inventor: Süleyman Suat Sezgin, 1929.
Country: Turkey.
Region: Middle East.

Description: The ahenk is a fretless stringed instrument from Turkey, invented by Süleyman Suat Sezgin in 1929. It was designed to be played like the oud. The instrument is similar to a banjo; like the banjo it uses has a reflector bowl as a resonator. Unlike the Cumbus, another Turkish “banjo” invented in the early 20th century, the instrument has nearly disappeared. There is a renewed interest in the instrument, which is being built in Istanbul and in Eskişehir [where it was invented].

Construction: The body of the ahenk is constructed by way of staves similar to an oud although more round in shape. The front resembles a banjo, with a bridge between the strings and animal skin membrane. The neck is longer than an oud in length, similar to that of the much later invented cumbus. The strings are arranged in the same manner as the oud, although this instrument and an identical oudola strung using modern machine gear, guitar tuners.



Name: Lavta.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.6
Country: Greece, Turkey.
Region: South Europe, Asia Minor & Mediterranean.

Description: The lavta is a plucked string instrument from Istanbul Turkey. Known as a lavta [լավտա] in Armenian, also occasionally called Πολιτικό Λαούτο [politiko lauto] or [Lute from Constantinople] in Greek. The lavta was popular in the early 20th century; particularly among the Greek and Armenian communities of Istanbul, but also the Turkish community.

It was one of the many instruments played by noted Turk Tanburi Cemil Bey. It was gradually replaced by the oud and survived until this day. From the 1980s onward there has been a revival of interest in this instrument. The lavta is now available again in both Turkey and in Greece.

Lavta Tuning
Name Tuning
Bolahenk C G D A
  G D A E

Construction: The lavta is in the same family as the laouto and oud. It is constructed from a ribbed body much the same way as a laouto, bouzouki or saz. Utilizing the carvel bending technique to form the ribs that make up the body. The instrument has six doubled strings and a 7th single string arranged in the order of four doubled strings [a pair of two strings] and one single string.

Occasionally musicians may change the strings from nylon to metal to achieve different tonal characteristics of the same musical instrument when played. The frets are tied and are arranged to the quarter-tones present in the maqam system.

Citations: Bibliography: Websites:


Name: Oud.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.6
Country: Many.
Regions: Many, Middle East & North Africa.

Description: The oud [in Arabic: عود‎ in Syriac: ʿūd in IPA: ʕuːd] as a wide spread lute bares numerous alternate names often many of the names are regional. The names include include [in Arabic: عود‎ ʿūd or ʿoud or plural: أعواد aʿwād]; in Armenian: ուդ or ud ; in Greek:  oúti ; in Hebrew: [עוּד‎ ud] ; in Persian: بربط‎ barbat. Although the barbat is a different lute instrument. In Turkish the oud is called ud or ut ; in Azeri [ ud]: and in Somali: cuud or kaban.

The scholars Iraqi [Robson, 1938] and the second Iranian [Mas’udi, 1874]. They posited a view; that the ud was invented by Lamak [sixth grandson of Adam], a direct descendant of Cain; on the death of Lamak’s son, he hung his remains in a tree, and the desiccated skeleton suggested the form of the ud. The myth attributes the invention of the mi’zaf [lyre] to Lamak’s daughter.” Stanley Sadie: The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments, vol. 3, p. 688.

History: Written documentation of the oud was given by the 11th-century musician, singer and author Al-Hasan Ibn al-Haytham [c. 965 – c. 1040] in his compendium on music Ḥāwī al-Funūn wa Salwat al-Maḥzūn. The first known complete description of the ‛ūd and its construction is found in the [in Arabic: رسالة في لوين ونا النغم epistle Risāla fī-l-Luḥūn wa-n-Nagham] by 9th-century Philosopher Yaʻqūb ibn Isḥāq al-Kindī.

Stretching from North Africa, Sudan, Horn of Africa, Zanzibar a lead melodic instrument in the genre of Tarab, the Middle East including Yemen and as far as Southeast Asia [notably Malaysia and Indonesia]. This instrument has been played for thousands of years. It is the direct ancestor of the European lute. The oldest surviving oud is thought to be in Brussels, at the Museum of Musical Instruments.

In Pre-Islamic Arabia and Mesopotamia, the oud had only three strings, with a small body and a long neck without any tuning pegs. But during the Islamic era the musical box was enlarged, a fourth string was added, and the base for the tuning pegs [Bunjuk] or pegbox was added.

In the first centuries of [pre-Islamic] Arabian civilization, the oud had four courses; one string per course — double-strings came later] tuned in successive fourths. Curt Sachs said they were called from lowest to highest pitch bamm, maṭlaṭ, maṭnā and zīr.

As early as the ninth century a fifth string ḥād [“sharp”] was sometimes added “to make the range of two octaves complete”. It was highest in pitch, placed lowest in its positioning in relation to other strings.

Modern tuning preserves the ancient succession of fourths, adjacent pitches, the lowest or highest courses may be tuned differently following regional or personal preferences. Sachs gives one tuning for this arrangement of five pairs of strings G / D / E / A / D.

Historical sources indicate that Ziryab [789–857] added a fifth string to his oud. He was well-known for founding a school of music in Andalusia, one of the places where the oud or lute entered Europe. Another mention of the fifth string was made by Al-Hasan Ibn al-Haytham in Ḥāwī al-Funūn wa Salwat al-Maḥzūn.

Oud Tunings
Names Tunings
Kurt Sachs [documented by] G D E A D
Syria / Arabic C F A D G C
Syria / Arabic  D G A D G C
Standard C E A D G C 
Oud with 12 strings  F A D G C F
Egyptian F A D G C
Egyptian G A D G C
Egyptian E A D G C
Iraqi / Bashir  C D G CF F
Iraqi / Bashir F C D G C F
Turkish  E A B E A D
Turkish C# F# B E A D 
Turkish D A B E A D
Turkish D G B E A D

Citations: Bibliography: Sachs, Curt 1940, The History of Musical Instruments – New York: W. W. Norton & Company. p. 254 ; Stanley Sadie: The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments, vol. 3, p. 688. Websites: Online Encyclopedia of Tunings ; Oudcafe.com / Stringing and tuning ;